Three new championships join AEW’s collection in 2022, following a massive influx of talent in 2021. With the TBS, All-Atlantic, and World Trios titles now in the mix, there has been more depth in every primary division, and the competition for title prestige has gotten stiffer. So, as the year draws to a close, we rank every AEW championship from least to most compelling in 2022.
(7) All-Atlantic Championship
The title born from an AEWxNJPW four-way was shot out of a cannon. From being one of the titles held by AEW’s first dual champion Pac, to having regular defenses on Dark, to being Orange Cassidy’s first taste of gold in AEW; the All-Atlantic Champion was a surprising breath of fresh air in an oversaturated singles title scene.
However, despite its freshness, as well as reviving the Pac v Cassidy rivalry of 2020, it has never sustained momentum. Its next PPV defense with a returning Kip Sabian, who had been out of action for 18 months, happened on the Zero Hour. Many of Cassidy’s defenses were a result of him inserting himself into other stories. And though that’s his prerogative, the young All-Atlantic Championship rarely being the central story has communicated that it isn’t meant for big time.
(6) TBS Championship
The TBS Championship has definitely helped make a star out of rookie Jade Cargill. Combined with her undefeated streak, Cargill established herself as a top attraction in a young women’s division by being synonymous with the TBS title. But she has been lacking in big time matches, one of which we were robbed of when Kris Statlander suffered an injury before All Out (get well soon!). But even with that considered, the TBS title has neither peaked nor dipped in momentum since… I can’t even remember.
(5) TNT Championship
The TNT Championship was a ride in 2022. First of all, Cody Rhodes lost the title in a standout ladder match, and had the most impassioned promo preceding it, then he left. Which, at the time I was stunned was a thing that happened, but now I’m stunned all that happened this year.
Then Sammy Guevara. That classic ladder match seemed primed to launch Guevara to the next level. I’m not even sure where it went wrong, but people cheering Dan Lambert over him really dragged him permanently. Scorpio Sky’s reign still intersected too much with Guevara’s. And before we knew it, it was Wardlow’s time, with top defenses against Orange Cassidy and Brian Cage, before falling to Samoa Joe.
The title had its highs, but there was so much more limbo, ranging from random tag appearances on PPV; to WarJoe, which ran too short for anything to happen and too long with nothing happening. And worse, a rivalry that resulted in what amounted to a we-promise-this-rivalry-is-over-over stipulation in the finale match.
(4) Women’s World Championship
The best proof of a successful young title is how well the division adapts with certain champions on top. I’ve written before about what a treasure Toni Storm has been for the women’s division. She is a regular unifying factor in many solid TV tag matches, as well as intense in World title matches vs Thunder Rosa, Hikaru Shida, and more. She really made this title feel bigger, defending regularly and against a bigger cast of challengers than previous champions.
Including, best of all, the woman she would eventually lose to, Jamie Hayter. Hayter’s road to championship glory is paved with beautiful brainbusters and backbreakers that went under the radar, until — I would argue — Toni Storm arrived. And now, two champions in a row, the division has improved leaps and bounds on TV, with the focus heavily on in-ring developments.
On top of all this, Britt Baker and Thunder Rosa’s Steel Cage MOTY in March is not something to be slept on. But despite all these, with how the division was positioned for the better part of the year, it realistically cannot crack the top 2 on its own merits.
(3) World Trios Championship
The World Trios Championship has The Elite as its inaugural champions. The tournament leading up to its inception was also the event that Kenny Omega returned for after recovering from accumulated injuries. These two reasons alone have made this new title feel like a big deal.
But what really pushes it to top 3 territory despite its infancy is the constant threat its initial champions have been. Death Triangle were featured regularly on TV, having stellar defenses against the likes of Best Friends, and Top Flight and AR Fox. Apart from trios action, its members would also have multiple singles title matches, including Pac who became AEW’s first dual champion with the All-Atlantic and Trios belts.
And of course, the Best of 7 series between Death Triangle and The Elite may be one singular feud carrying this title. But if that’s what making use of lost time got us, it’s barely a critique. The World Trios title was hampered by backstage hoopla, giving us a disjointed reign so early on, but it’s not like it’s the belts’ fault.
(2) World Tag Team Championship
I guess it’s a testament to this title that FTR, despite holding three world tag belts, feel incomplete without this one.
The Acclaimed, Keith Lee, and Swerve Strickland are the four men who put this title at the top. Their clash at All Out is a definite tag team Match of the Year. And really, the biggest thing the World Tag Team titles did was to elevate The Acclaimed from the quirky entrance rap guys to the top merch-selling main event. It is career turning-point stories like these that make the tag titles feel like a top belt people have to invest in.
Still, a lot of the World Tag title scene in 2022 was making the champions seem like third wheels. Whether it was Jurassic Express facing teams embroiled in disputes, or FTR constantly being touted the best tag team on the planet, without any response from the AEW champions. The World Tag Team Championship represented consistency and investment more than most singles belts, and only edges out the Trios title because the latter is so new.
(1) World Championship
Which brings us to #1.
It’s hard to really beat this, isn’t it? Talk about consistency and investment, let’s take a look at the timeline this title had:
- We had Adam Page as the first champion of the TBS Dynamite era, fending off Bryan Danielson in a classic. Then, there was Page and CM Punk in May, which was ‘historic’ to put it neutrally.
- Punk broke his foot 3 days after winning the title. This gave us Jon Moxley’s first World title reign with full-capacity crowds. We also got Moxley v Hiroshi Tanahashi after waiting 2 years.
- Then something happened after All Out which made Tony Khan vacate the title the very next Dynamite. It wasn’t addressed on TV.
- The Tournament of Champions was scheduled to determine a new champion, which Moxley won. This gave us Moxley v Page on Dynamite just for fun (get well soon, Hangman), and Moxley v MJF at Full Gear.
- And now MJF holds the gold, after being AEW’s biggest all-around attraction for years.
Everything just feels earned with the AEW World title. No random three-ways, no third-wheeling of the champion, etc. Sometimes to a fault, yes — I would absolutely love to see more titles in the biggest spotlight. I still to this day have trouble believing Young Bucks (c) v FTR didn’t main event All Out 2022 (BECAUSE WHEN ELSE IS IT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN).
But we can’t say the World Championship scene is ever unattended to, or unfit for explosive openers or main events. And for all these reasons, the AEW World title is still the clear #1 title in 2022.