Editor's note: the following originally appeared in this week's Figure Four Weekly.
It’s well documented that 2017 has been a crazy year in pro wrestling. The list of stories from this year is a mile long, but there may be none sweeter than that which concluded this past weekend when Joe Doering won the Triple Crown Championship in All Japan.
Doering is one of the most unique wrestlers in the world; a total throwback. He is like 1984 Stan Hansen dropped into 2017, but he doesn’t feel like a ripoff of the legendary Texan. Doering is his own man, and has his own great relationship with the Japanese crowd. He’s wild and they love him. His matches are tremendous and look completely different to any other matches out there. For all those reasons, it’s really cool that he’s become champion. But none of them are the reason why this is arguably the best story of the year.
In March of 2016, Doering was pulled from the upcoming Champion Carnival. He had a brain tumor.
It was not known whether the Canadian would ever wrestle again. He underwent brain surgery and all the chemotherapy needed, and he defeated the illness. Joe Doering said "F*ck Cancer" and that’s exactly what he meant! He now sells an incredible T-shirt with that slogan and a picture of him essentially giving a lariat to cancer.
He was back in the ring at the beginning of 2017 and looked like he didn’t miss a beat. Considering he had been out of action with an injury for a long period before the diagnosis, this was extra impressive. To be honest, he looked better than he ever had before.
The crowds have been behind him all year. His entrance where they chant "Joe!" to the beat of his awesome music never fails to create excitement. His matches against Shuji Ishikawa and Daisuke Sekimoto (among others) were absolutely fantastic, and his turn on stablemate Suwama during the summer made him seem even more wild and unpredictable.
On Saturday in Yokohama, it was Doering against Suwama one-on-one for the Triple Crown. His opponent was just coming off winning the title himself two weeks earlier in quite possibly the best match of his career against Kento Miyahara, but you can bet Suwama was only too happy to be the man to drop the historic championship to one of his closest friends.
While the match has not yet aired, from the photos and live reports, it appears to have been a great scene. Doering’s triumph was not just a victory for him, but it was a victory for the belief that professional wrestling can still be a magical sport where great stories are always possible. "Joe! Joe! Joe!"