Special Event: AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door (2023)
June 25, 2023 2:53 PM - Subscribe

IT IS HAPPENING AGAIN. Almost exactly one year following the first opening of the Forbidden Door, the top stars of All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling (which has some overlap anyway) once again clash, including a few dream matches where both companies have titles on the line.

The full card announced for tonight:


Women's Owen Hart Cup Tournament first round match: Athena vs. Billie Starkz
Billie may be an 18-year-old prodigy who's about to become a huge star, and may have already been surreptitiously signed to AEW a few months ago, but there's not much chance of her going over current Ring Of Honor Women's Champion Athena... on the other hand, it is a pre-show, and she already is Billie 4 Belts, so who knows?
Trios Tag Match: United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, and TJP) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Bushi, and Hiromu Takahashi)
Having LIJ represent at Forbidden Door is a big deal, wonder if they'll interact with any LFI (La Facción Ingobernable) members tonight? Andrade has no match on tonight, does he?
Stu Grayson vs. El Phantasmo
If you've been missing Ring Of Honor episodes, Stu is on a slow heel turn away from his Dark Order friends, having taken up with The Righteous (the bargain bin Wyatt Family) these past few weeks.
Trios Tag Match: Mogul Embassy (Swerve Strickland, Toa Liona, and Bishop Kaun) (with Prince Nana) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Trent Beretta) and El Desperado
Mogul and Swerve have been on an upward trajectory for a few weeks now, barring a miracle this is likely to continue

AEW World Championship: MJF (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
MJF insisted on going first tonight, which neatly conveys his disrespect for "The Ace" and gives him an opening to interfere in later matches. Could he actually lose tonight? It depends if Tony Khan is still a big enough mark that he'll want Tanahashi's name in the history of the AEW title, possibly as some sort of power-sharing arrangement with NJPW?
Trios Tag match: Le Suzuki Gods (Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Minoru Suzuki) vs. Sting, Darby Allin, and Tetsuya Naito
Fun fact: Jericho, Guevara and Suzuki are the only team returning unchanged since last year's Forbidden Door, although much water has passed between Sammy and Chris. Tonight may be the night he splits entirely from J.A.S., while Sting and Suzuki get in a "chop the old man to death" contest
IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Sanada (c) vs. "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry (with Hook(?))
If Sammy turns face, Jungle Boy must turn heel. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
Ten-man tag team match: Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta, and Claudio Castagnoli), with Konosuke Takeshita, and Shota Umino vs. The Elite ("Hangman" Adam Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson), Eddie Kingston, and Tomohiro Ishii
Eddie has been prepared to shed Claudio's blood since they appeared on the same roster. Poor, poor Yuta is almost certainly going to take this pin after being thoroughly beaten. Has the potential for the most insane spots of the night.
Men's Owen Hart Cup Tournament first round match: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima
We're just never getting Punk vs. Kenta, and we have to accept that while Punk advances to face (probably) Samoa Joe next week.
AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia -- Fatal Four-Way Match
Has the potential to be the oddest styles clash of the night, with ZSJ and Garcia being mat monkeys, Shibata a brawler, and Cassidy being his weird slippery underdog self. He'll almost certainly retain, unless Garcia takes it from him to further his split with the J.A.S.?
AEW Women's World Championship: Toni Storm (c) vs. Willow Nightingale
I feel like Toni may lose here, simply because the title isn't doing anything to elevate her anymore, nor she for it. She's over, the Outcasts are over as heels, but unless the next step in the story is the Outcasts breaking up over title jealousy, I don't see any point in not moving the title to Willow. I also predict that before the year is up Willow loses the NJPW title she currently holds to someone who, y'know, is actually contracted to NJPW. Some backstage agreements between the two companies might facilitate this, with perhaps other talent getting dual bookings as well.
Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
This is it. This is what Danielson left WWE for. He's wanted this for about a decade, and thank God it came before his body got too broken to do it. I want him to win, pin Okada, fly to Japan, get received like the hero he is and have as many 5-star classics as he wants. Nothing but good things for one of the greatest living pro-wrestlers.
IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay
This one is harder to predict. Certainly stateside AEW hasn't made a huge deal of Kenny being the IWGP champ (in fact, I forgot he was until the build for this show began). Is his loss the price of Willow keeping her title? More importantly, if he retains, does this mean Ospreay sticks around stateside longer? Because if so I've got a few more dream matches to book, and isn't that what Forbidden Door is all about?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta (10 comments total)
UPDATE: I know it had been announced that Adam Cole would wrestle "Filthy" Tom Lawlor as well, but I'm sorry to say that's cancelled.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 3:47 PM on June 25, 2023

The United Empire / LIJ trios match was particularly good on the pre-show, with a lot of team efforts culminating in Shingo keeping TJP in his arms long enough for Hiromu to become Jeff Cobb's piggyback and drag him away from making a save.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:00 PM on June 25, 2023

Punk coming out to mostly boos, but that's OK because he 100% knows how to work with that: wrestle in a way that earns that heat. Mimicking Kojima, busting out a leg drop, stealing the Mongolian chop, even mockingly calling out Stan Hansen with "Lariato!" And yet there's still a part of the crowd chanting for him. Plus AEW returns to Chicago for late August/early September for All Out... so there's about two months to wring out every last bit of face out of him.

(By the way, someone sent me this essay on Punk and the recent business around his return, and it manages to put everything into terms that don't necessarily change my opinion of anyone but paint a picture that makes more sense.)
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 5:52 PM on June 25, 2023

The four-way was indeed the Battle of the Bendy Boys. Cassidy has been defending the International Title with an amazing workrate since winning in October, and the story of his (kayfabe) deteriorating arm condition led to ZSJ targeting it repeatedly. Interesting that the finish is a very WWE-style affair, throwing out the person who did most of the work to steal the pin. But it looks like it will lead to a title-vs-title match with Shibata... can you imagine Orange Cassidy as Pure Champion?

As far as Jungle Boy goes, Danhausen says it best.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:36 PM on June 25, 2023

The multi-man spots in the BCC/Elite match were good, but I wasn't prepared for the melodrama spors. Of course, Kingston and Moxley would be weirdly possessive and jealous of each other's violence. Of course there would be a spot where Eddie reflexively comes to the support of the only person in the ring he actually likes, no matter which side he's on. Despite it being a great fun match, this really just keeps all the plates spinning by letting the outsider Ishii pin Yuta.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:15 PM on June 25, 2023

Omega and Ospreay honored the IWGP Title by having a very Japanese match. Calling back to their last match by bloodying Will’s face, kicking out of normally protected moves, having a 45 minute war? Dave Meltzer’s likely to run out of stars to give.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:14 PM on June 25, 2023


posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:26 PM on June 25, 2023

Cagematch tells me that Okada hasn't been made to tap out since... 2014. Did Danielson just invent a new submission hold to do it?

Great show in all, and I'm certainly already penciling in Omega/Ospreay III to headline All In in two months from now in London, so that Will can be the hometown hero this time (if he can stay uninjured).
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 9:03 PM on June 25, 2023

Bought the PPV on Bleacher Report Sunday, noticed there were a LOT of what I thought were substitutions on the card but I was enjoying myself until everyone marked out for Claudio's debut.

Reader, I had accidentally been watching last year's Forbidden Door.

Anyway, that meant that I split Forbidden Door 2023 over two nights and I had a great time of it. "I am a fan," I said, "service me in the manner in which fans are serviced."

"Ok," replied AEW, "here's all the fan service you can stand and then a little more besides."

A lot of fun moments but Kenny kicking out of the OWA on one got me out of my seat.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:12 PM on June 26, 2023 [3 favorites]

Post-script: I found out that Punk shouting out "Lariat!" and "Kojima!" during his match has nothing to do with Stan Hansen, it's a call back to a decades-ago prank he discussed in an interview that Botchamania presented with annotations.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:12 PM on July 5, 2023

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