TJRWrestling AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 Preview

aew njpw forbidden door 2023 preview tjrwrestling

It’s AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door with Kenny Omega-Will Ospreay in a title match, Bryan Danielson-Kazuchika Okada in a dream match, several title matches and more.

John: The thing about this show is that the match quality will be very strong. For the hardcore wrestling fans that are obsessed with great matches and rating things, it’s going to deliver a lot of what they like over the course of four hours. With that said, I think AEW could have made a better effort of trying to tell stories for some of these matches. They had a full month since the Double or Nothing pay-per-view. Instead of randomly saying Wrestler A faces Wrestler B, why not at least try to tell a story in some cases? I get that some of the NJPW guys may have been unavailable, but a little effort would have been nice. For example, if you know Wrestler A was going to be against Wrestler B on this show then build it four weeks ago, not just one week before.

I am looking forward to Bryan-Okada and Omega-Ospreay a lot. I know the Toronto crowd will be very loud too. I had a ticket, but I had to sell it because of a family death recently and a memorial service that’s taking place on Sunday. I didn’t want to bail on my family to go to Forbidden Door, which is over two hours away from me. My friends will have fun, I’m sure.

Please note that we wrote this before Collision and are posting this before Collision, so if something happened on Collision we aren’t going to reference it.

Joining me for the preview are TJRWrestling writers Joel McIntyre, Matthew Fowler, Alex Podgorski and Marc Madison.

Alex: I’m very excited for this show. I’ll be attending live and I can’t wait to see some of my favorite wrestlers competing in person. I’m also going to bring a pair of earplugs in case the screaming gets too loud. After all, this is Toronto we’re talking about and we’re being treated to a “dream match” show by two companies that, in many fans’ eyes, can do no wrong.

Do I think this’ll be a perfect show? Not in the slightest. Even with the short amount of build time both companies could’ve done a tiny bit more to give people other than hardcore fans reasons to see this show. That said, I’m expecting a lot of craziness and top-tier matches, especially from the last three encounters.

Marc: On Sunday, June 25th, AEW and NJPW present Forbidden Door. This time it will emanate from Toronto, Ontario, Canada’s Scotiabank Arena. It is the first time an AEW PPV will take place outside of the United States, so they’ve decided not to come alone. With the talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling joining All Elite Wrestling, the night hopes to be a grand time. A few TJR staff will be attending the event, and we hope to enjoy the night, even if it means connecting for a few minutes to say hello. Will the event live up to last year’s promise and expectations? Let’s check out our previews and see.

PRE-SHOW Women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament Quarterfinals: Athena vs. Billie Starkz

Joel: This one seems pretty obvious.

Winner: Athena, duh

Alex: I’m a bit behind on the particulars of AEW’s women’s division so I’m doing a coin toss prediction here. Starkz is only 18 years old and Athena has been wrestling since Starks was 3. This should be an easy win for the veteran in about eight minutes tops.

Winner: Athena

Marc: Recent high school graduate Starkz is quickly becoming a fan favorite, and while jokes are likely made of her needing to be over before her curfew, the truth is the match could be fun if given time. But what will likely happen is the current ROH. Women’s Champion advances in a place where there appeared to be the last time controversy surrounded her, in particular her match against Jody Threat.

Winner: Athena

John: I feel bad for the AEW women’s division barely being represented on this show. I don’t know why they are keeping Taya Valkyrie off the show when she’s Canadian and might get a reaction from the crowd. Athena is really good, but not booked well and I don’t know much about Starkz.

Winner: Athena

Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor

Joel: I don’t know where the hell Tom Lawlor came from or why he has an issue with Adam Cole. I’ve genuinely enjoyed Cole’s run so far since his return. He’s really settled into his role as one of the top babyfaces in the company. I think the match will be good, regardless of story. I just can’t see Cole losing here.

Winner: Adam Cole

Matthew: This is the first of way to many matches on this card with no story, just putting two wrestlers from each company against each other to try to create a “dream match”. This one is the easiest on the show to predict, as there is no way Cole loses here before going on to face MJF for the title.

Winner: Adam Cole

Alex: This is exactly what it looks like: a quick and easy win for Cole to give him momentum ahead of his rumored world title program with MJF. I expect a short video package to promote Lawlor and explain what he’s all about, but I don’t expect this match to go more than ten minutes. It’ll be a decent opener but nothing out of the ordinary.

Winner: Adam Cole

Marc: The match was announced on Rampage against ‘Filthy’ Tom Lawlor. To see Royce Issacs and Tom Lawlor attack Cole was met with a flat reaction by the Chicago crowd’ as they didn’t have enough to get behind what had happened. A win for Cole certainly helps elevate him and increases the tension between these two ‘partners.’

Winner: Adam Cole

John: Adam Cole needs a win, so they announced this match during the poorly watched Rampage show. We know Lawlor is there to do the job. I guess it could be okay, but there’s not much interest from me. Cole should win decisively in ten minutes or less.

Winner: Adam Cole

AEW Women’s Championship: Toni Storm (c) vs. Willow Nightingale

Joel: This whole “Outcasts vs Originals” feud is a prime example of a problem AEW has where they continue feuds months after they should’ve ended with no real payoff. Think Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho, Swerve and Keith Lee, etc. I think the match will be great. Willow is a natural babyface that people love. Toni is good as a heel. I’m sure there will be interference but I think Toni takes it.

Winner: Toni Storm

Matthew: With no women from Stardom and Mercedes Mone injured, this is the best option for a women’s match on the show. Nightingale and Storm will likely have a good match, but it feels like filler and just put on the show so they can say they had a women’s match. I expect Storm to retain here, in a quick match.

Winner: Toni Storm

Alex: One of the saddest things about both AEW and NJPW is how many titles both companies have. AEW has eight and NJW has thirteen, which makes it hard for anyone to really care or follow all these goings on. In this case, Storm is defending the AEW Women’s title against Nightingale, who is the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion (which is something akin to NJPW’s version of the NXT Women’s title). Nightingale’s is a brand new title and NJPW doesn’t like booking champions to lose non-title singles matches. With this, I predict one of two things. Either, a) this match goes to a draw after ten or 15 minutes, or b) the rest of the Outcasts interfere to cause a DQ. Neither is an ideal situation, but that’s what these women are stuck working with. If I had to pick one of those outcomes, given what I’ve predicted for later on, I’m going with the second option.

Winner and STILL AEW Women’s champion due to shenanigans/interference/DQ: Toni Storm

Marc: One of the more disappointing things about the event is as much as we’d hope for there to be a crossover in talent between NJPW and AEW, it would have been great if we could have seen the same thing with the women. Mercedes Monè’s injury likely contributed to why she wasn’t involved in this event. But beyond that, why couldn’t we see the like of talent from Stardom appear on the card? No disrespect is intended toward Willow, as her stock and her fan appeal make her a favorite. But we are witness to a contractually obligated AEW talent against another contractually obligated AEW talent. Could this have been a Mercedes match had she not been injured, as it involves the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion? Regardless, we see Storm retaining, but having Thunder Rosa appear will undoubtedly add something to the bout.

Winner: AND STILL AEW Women’s Champion, Toni Storm

John: I am sure there are people thinking this could have been Mercedes Mone’s AEW debut since she was going to win the NJPW Strong Women’s Title until she hurt her ankle and they called an audible to put the title on Willow. This is a match that they could have built up fairly well over the last month, yet it feels so randomly thrown onto the card as the lone women’s match on the main card. Saraya has been off TV for a few weeks for some sort of personal matter. I think she’ll make her return to television here and help her buddy Storm pick up the win. This company loves the “numbers game” booking a lot, so Storm having Ruby Soho & Saraya at ringside will be too much for Willow to handle.

Winner: Toni Storm

Men’s Owen Hart Tournament Quarterfinals: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima

Joel: An excuse to get CM Punk on the card since the match with KENTA fell through. I’m not too familiar with Kojima, but I know he’s good, so the match will probably deliver. I’d bet my house that CM Punk wins the match.

Winner: CM Punk

Matthew: Another match with no storyline whatsoever, with hardcore fans possibly excited for it. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is saying who is this guy facing Punk in his first singles match back? I’m sure this will be a good match, and obviously Punk is not losing his first singles match back.

Winner: CM Punk

Alex: I get the feeling that this match was put together specifically for people like me, that is, people that actually know who Kojima is and why NJPW promotes him as a legend. The thing is, though, Kojima peaked a LONG time ago. His best matches were against Toshiaki Kawada and Genichiro Tenryu in All Japan between 2002 and 2005. He has spent almost a full decade as a ‘New Japan Dad’, a lower-card guy riding on the coattails of his earlier career accomplishments. CM Punk will have no trouble at all here, especially since Kojima simply doesn’t hit with even 10% of the force he used to hit with. Call this a dream match all you want; this is a placeholder and we all know it.

Winner: CM Punk

Marc: Funny enough story, I worked in an Italian bakery for nearly twenty years in the Greater Toronto Area. What does that have anything to do with this match? Well, when one guy is known for going off at a press conference while chowing down on Muffins and the other guy is known for his love of break, it’s a surprise no one thought to have a bakery sponsor the match. We could even have flour on a pole or two! Fine, the suggestion is outrageous, but sadly, this isn’t the KENTA/Punk match we should have had. Again, no disrespect to Kojima, but this match is a stepping stone to giving Punk a win and having him advance in this tournament.

Winner: CM Punk

John: The match that should be on this show is CM Punk against KENTA, but KENTA likely doesn’t want to do the job to Punk. It’s another match with no story other than it being part of the Owen Hart Tournament that Punk will probably win. I guess Kojima was Punk’s request because we know the AEW boss will do whatever he can to make Punk happy and not throw a temper tantrum. Yes, I like Punk. I just think he needs to be more mature about some things in his life. Easy win for Punk, of course.

Winner: CM Punk

Le Suzuki Gods – Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki vs. Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito

(It was announced on AEW Collision on Saturday night that Tetsuya Naito will team with Sting & Darby Allin. Our previews for the match were written before the announcement.)

Joel: Sting’s team ain’t losing. Suzuki’s sole purpose in America is to lose matches so I don’t see that changing here. The match should be decent.

Winners: Darby/Sting/TBA

Matthew: Chris Jericho and Sting facing each other for the first time is a big deal, and had the potential to be a money-drawing match. Instead, however, Tony Khan has decided to have them face off here in a meaningless six-man tag. Now once the two do finally have a match, it will mean less as they have already wrestled. Sting doesn’t lose in AEW, and that isn’t changing here.

Winner: Sting, Darby Allin and TBA

Alex: This match is on the opposite end of the spectrum compared to almost everything else on the card: literally anyone can be brought in as Sting & Allin’s mystery partner. Whoever that person is will play a part in how this match goes down. There’s little story here so I’m basing my prediction on which of these six men is most likely to be the fall guy. Allin and Guevara are (alleged) pillars and are still getting pushed so they’re out. Jericho rarely takes falls, so when he does they’re supposed to mean something. Sting is undefeated and AEW is saving his loss for something huge. That leaves Suzuki and the mystery man, and I doubt Suzuki flew all the way to Canada just to end his night staring up at a ceiling. As such, I think the mystery man will end up losing for his team. It doesn’t matter if it’s a legend or some rising star or someone returning from injury; whoever teams with Sting and Allin will get a quick surprise pop and then will end up either eating an elbow from Jericho or piledriven by Suzuki.

Winners: Le Suzuki Gods – Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki

Marc: After this past week’s edition of Dynamite, we once again had a confrontation between Sting and Chris Jericho. Everyone appears to be simply a figure in the background while Jericho and Sting exchange barbs. At the same time, the inclusion of Suzuki is an odd one; his inclusion because of its Forbidden Door makes sense. Of course, the biggest question going into this match is who the partner of Sting will be, and Allin happens to be. Some will suggest it’s Goldberg, as he’s a free agent, and his inclusion would make a big splash. But when the statement was made about who it is that Jericho has made an enemy out of, one man comes to mind in particular because it involved NJPW talent. My pick was Tetsuya Naito, who lost and won the IWGP Intercontinental title. His addition is a pleasant surprise and could open the door to a future LIJ and LFI down the road.

Winners: Sting, Darby Allin, and TBA

John: This is all about the Sting-Jericho interactions since they have never been in a featured match like this together. I’m sure Jericho will do his best to sell for The Stinger, who is really showing his age in matches of late. It’s tough being a pro wrestler in his 60s no matter how legendary you are. At least we know guys like Sammy and Darby will do some crazy shit to keep it interesting while Suzuki loves to hit people hard. Sting is 15-0 in his AEW career, so his team should get the win here.

Winners: Sting, Darby Allin, and TBA

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Joel: Did we need a 4 Way? No. We could’ve just had Cassidy and ZSJ but whatever. Daniel Garcia is one of the biggest dropped balls in AEW history. A year ago, dude was getting monster reactions because they wanted him to turn on Jericho so bad. Instead, they just had him go back with Jericho and he’s done nothing since. Now, they’re redoing the story with Sammy instead of Daniel and it’s getting way less of a positive reaction. It’s a shame because Garcia is legit one of the best wrestlers in the company. The match will be great but as usual, you gotta look past the story.

Winner: Orange Cassidy

Matthew: Oh look another match with no storyline, that is thrown together to get guys from both companies on the show. Orange Cassidy is Tony Khan’s favorite wrestler, so I expect him to win here so he can continue to carry around his meaningless title.

Winner: Orange Cassidy

Alex: I don’t like Orange Cassidy and I don’t think I ever will so my judgment is a bit clouded here. I want to see him lose, especially since he doesn’t bring anything new to the table. He does the same gimmick match all the time and he just screams “inside joke” whenever he’s seen. He has also been champion for so long that I think now would be a good time for a new champion to be crowned. With two AEW guys and two NJPW guys in this match, there’s potential for mayhem and excitement. Garcia and OC can bring the high-flying lunacy, Shibata can bring the brutality, and ZSJ can bring the technical wizardry that this match needs. In terms of winner, I think ZSJ is a better fit as champion. He is actually an “international” wrestler and he can bring that title to New Japan to keep that audience aware of this growing cross-promotional relationship. OC doesn’t need the title since he gets plenty of strong booking as it is. Shibata is older, worn-down and not really in a position to be making regular title defenses. As for Garcia, he needs a stronger push and this title just doesn’t seem like it’ll work to his benefit. Therefore, ZSJ is the only rational choice left, though this prediction is more wishful thinking than anything else.

Winner and NEW AEW International Champion: Zack Sabre, Jr.

Marc: While it’s likely the most fun match on the card, to include all four of them feels wasted. This could have easily been a Cassidy and Zack Sabre Jr match. Or better yet, a gauntlet match where a competitor would enter the ring when the previous one was eliminated. Last year, ZSJ faced Claudio Castagnoli when it could have been Bryan Danielson. This year ZSJ is likely to lose again. Cassidy is over and continues to generate a reaction from fans. So we’ve seen Cassidy face Garcia and Shibata in one-on-one action. Shibata against Castagnoli would have been a solid battle, in comparison. There are too many elements added to this match where the concern that the match becomes overproduced when having a threat face Cassidy one-on-one could be as enticing.

Winner: AND STILL AEW International Champion, Orange Cassidy

John: These guys were in a tag team match on Dynamite and now they are in a 4-way match together because every AEW PPV needs a 4-way somewhere, I guess. I think there will be a lot of chaos and fast-paced action. I’m going with Orange getting the win in a match that gets about 12-15 minutes. It doesn’t need to go that long with so many other big matches on the show. If Orange doesn’t win then it might be Garcia because I doubt one of the NJPW regulars will get the title.

Winner: Orange Cassidy

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: SANADA (c) vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry

Joel: The biggest “WTF?” match on the card. I don’t think anybody was fantasy booking SANADA matches for this show. He’s a forgettable Champion. They should’ve kept the title on Okada to add some stakes to his match with Bryan. Jungle Boy accepting the challenge was weird. Why not Ricky Starks? Or Jay White? Or literally anybody else? I think Jack Perry is turning heel soon so there’s that, I guess.

Winner: SANADA

Matthew: So Jungle Boy loses an AEW World title match last month, and immediately gets another world title match? This match is just to make New Japan happy by allowing there champ to beat an AEW guy. Jungle Boy will be looking at the lights again for this match as well, with Sanada winning in a decisive fashion.

Winner: SANADA

Alex: NJPW wrestlers take their craft VERY seriously so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that SANADA is disappointed to say the least that, out of everyone on the AEW roster (which, need I remind you, is comprised of over 130 signed male wrestlers alone), he’s defending against Jungle Boy. There’s just no way that Jungle Boy’s winning here; SANADA will mop the floor with him and have an easy night. Then again, maybe that’s why this match happened; SANADA and the other NJPW guys work so damn hard and wrestle so intensely that a softer, lighter match once in a while will help him recharge his batteries.

This shouldn’t go more than ten minutes given the massive gulf between the champion and the challenger, but I think it will because of the forced “longer = more competitive” booking trope that’s overdone in today’s wrestling. It would make complete sense for SANADA to destroy and humiliate Jungle Boy to give him something to overcome and work towards, but I don’t think they will go in that direction. So instead, expect 15-20 minutes of competitive wrestling that will have the much stronger champion sell too much for a guy that, in all honesty, shouldn’t’ve ever been in the world title conversation in the first place.

Winner and STILL IWGP World Heavyweight Champion: SANADA

Marc: We won’t lie; this is easily the oddest booked world title match on the card on paper. If you don’t believe me, ask Sanada. This past week, Sanada either threw shade unintentionally at Jungle Boy Jack Perry or pointed out how Jungle Boy’s inclusion doesn’t give the title any credence to having Perry compete for the IWGP World title. Despite Tony Khan sharing his confidence in having Jungle Boy compete for this title since he competed for the AEW World title, this likely would fall into something other than how the event was meant to create dream matches. Also, credit to Reddit user Urass007 who shared that Jungle Boy’s booking aligns with the talents SANADA has tended to face during his recent title reign. But Sanada, the opportunity to even entertain fans in North America is a win for those of us in attendance, no matter who he is facing.

Winner: AND STILL IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, SANADA

John: If I was NJPW I’d be upset with AEW for promoting their IWGP World Heavyweight Champion so poorly going into Forbidden Door. It’s an open challenge with Jack Perry accepting it and getting a title shot even though he lost a World Title match one month ago. I think stylistically they should do pretty well in terms of match quality because SANADA has improved a lot in the last few years and Jack is really talented. However, the question is why not put a little more effort into this title match? It would help.

Winner: SANADA

Blackpool Combat Club – Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino vs. The Elite – “Hangman” Adam Page, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii

Joel: Much like Suzuki, Ishii’s sole purpose in AEW is to lose matches. Eddie Kingston hasn’t won a big match, ever. He spent all last year losing big matches to the Jericho Appreciation Society. With those two on the aside of the Elite and it being Takeshita’s first PPV match as a heel, it doesn’t look good. Blackpool Combat Club wins. This is actually the only match with a real story besides Omega/Ospreay. Still, it’s bordering into the “Feud that goes on too long” territory. Get to Blood and Guts and end this.

Winner: Blackpool Combat Club

Matthew: While pretty much every other match on this card has little to no story, this one has one that has been going on way to long. The Blackpool Combat Club and Elite’s feud has grown very stale, and adding a couple random Japanese wrestlers to the feud isn’t going to help it. I’ll go with the Blackpool Combat Club winning here, but it really means nothing either way.

Winners: Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino

Alex: This match will be twenty minutes or so of unbridled chaos between two teams that know each other very well. It’ll follow the same formula as Anarchy in the Arena that it’ll be full of action that’ll range from hard to follow to nonstop sequencing one after another. Some people really enjoy that sort of stuff so I’m sure I’ll be hearing tons of “OOOHHHS” from the people around me as this match goes on.

We can also expect a few specific things here as well: Moxley having a staredown with Hangman, Kingston and Castagnoli going at it with rabid intensity, Ishii coming in like a wrecking ball, and of course, lots of blood from everyone’s favorite Abdullah cosplayer. The story for this match has been a bit hard to follow and get into, so for now I’m going with a coin toss prediction since the story will continue regardless of outcome.

Winners: Blackpool Combat Club – Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino

Marc: On the surface, the idea of a BCC and Elite battle is undoubtedly something that AEW fans all favor having. The problem here is everyone involved isn’t Blackpool Combat Club or members of the Elite. While Konosuke Takeshita, Shota Umino, Eddie Kingston, and Tomohiro Ishii are all nice inclusions in the event, it’s hard to be emotionally invested if all involved don’t necessarily have issues with those in the match. If the likes of Kota Ibushi were involved for the Elite, then it may work. And unless fans were aware of Shota Umino and Jon Moxley’s relationship in NJPW, then they may otherwise not make the connection of his inclusion in this match. Until we can get the likes of Danielson, Omega, and Kota Ibushi, this five-on-five will be hard to get behind.

Winners: Blackpool Combat Club, Shota Umino, and Konosuke Takeshita

John: I feel like I’ve seen the BCC vs. The Elite in tag team variations at least five times in the last two months. I know it hasn’t been that many, but it’s been a lot. Now we get to see it with some different people on the teams. It should be a wild match where they completely ignore tag team rules and just do a bunch of running into the ring to try to pull off some cool moves. Out of the ten guys in the match, I think Konosuke Takeshita needs the win the most in terms of storylines. I just think putting him over makes a lot of sense, so I’ll pick his team.

Winners: Blackpool Combat Club – Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino

AEW World Championship: Maxwell Jacob Friedman (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Joel: Another “WTF?” match but I guess it makes sense. MJF doesn’t want to wrestle but he has to. MJF is very underrated in the ring so the match will deliver. I just need them to kick his Title run into high gear after this match. His feud with the Pillars did more harm than good to his reign.

Winner: Maxwell Jacob Friedman

Matthew: This is the second year in a row that Tanahashi gets an AEW title shot, for the simple reason that he was the only wrestler from NJPW with name value left to face MJF. Tanahashi is at the point in his career where he puts younger guys over, and that is exactly what will happen here. MJF will cheat to win here, after a good match.

Winner: MJF

Alex: You’re unlikely to find a bigger Tanahashi fan on this site than me but even I think that this is a waste of time. The whole story here is that MJF is doing this match reluctantly and doesn’t see Tanahashi or NJPW as threats. There has been no change in character for Tanahashi in response, either; he hasn’t shown additional aggression or vowed to hurt MJF for insulting the company that Tanahashi carried on his back for over a decade. So what we’re left with is a pure “dream match” of sorts that could’ve had more heat and story behind it to make it into something more exciting. Don’t get me wrong; Tanahashi is an excellent wrestler and I truly believe that MJF can live up to Tanahashi in the ring. But as John said a few times already, the best matches are those that can go either way and this isn’t one of them. MJF will retain here and then will move on to someone closer to home. I just hope we get more of what MJF did at Revolution so that he shows why he deserves to be the world champion.

Winner and STILL AEW World Champion: MJF

Marc: Much like the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, the match booking has all the makings of being precisely what helps, MJF. A world title defense, on a pay per view and against a legendary performer known the world over. Tanahashi is the one guy that could lose this match and still walks away as the winner. The challenge here is having it be a competitive match and still having MJF walk away looking good in the process. We could anticipate the involvement of Adam Cole either directly or indirectly but not to be a deciding factor in the match. Fans have seen MJF trying and avoid having this match by being dismissive of Tanahashi. That will likely be his undoing. Will we see the ace of NJPW in all his glory? We will, but it may still not be enough to end MJF’s title reign.

Winner: AND STILL AEW World Champion, Maxwell Jacob Friedman

John: There’s a big age difference here since Tanahashi is about 20 years older than MJF. The good thing about that is that working with veterans like Tanahashi will make MJF better and I think MJF is pretty damn great right now already. MJF has held the title for over seven months at this point and I really doubt that he would lose it to a guy that’s not even a regular in AEW, even if it is a legend like Tanahashi. They should have a good match, but I don’t know if it’s going to be a classic or anything like that.

Winner: Maxwell Jacob Friedman

IWGP US Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay

Joel: My second favorite match of the night. This match has a built in story that they didn’t really need to add to. I think this was always the end game. When Omega defeated Ospreay for the United States Title at Wrestle Kingdom, I think the goal was always for him to drop it back at Forbidden Door. Again, Dave will give it 5 Stars before they even get to the building. It’ll be great. Ospreay should win this match though. Omega isn’t making frequent visits to Japan right now so it makes sense to drop it back.

Winner: Will Ospreay

Matthew: This is the other match that I am excited to see on this show, as these two guys have amazing chemistry together. These two’s last match was a classic, with this one likely being no different. With Omega winning their last encounter, I expect Ospreay to even up the series here, after another incredible match.

Winner and New IWGP US Champion: Will Ospreay

Alex: While I’m not like some match reviewers and I break the scale for certain wrestlers, even I think that this’ll be an insane match. Both AEW and NJPW recognize that there’s money in these two feuding, which is why I don’t think we’ll have a clear winner here. Instead, these guys will copy Omega’s formula with Okada from 2017-18: in Ospreay’s case, he lost the first match, he will draw here, they’ll have another match soon afterward that he’ll win, and then there will be a fourth and final confrontation sometime in the future. There’s no need for the wins to be traded now, and since this match is built on the diehards that just want to see epic matches, this series can be stretched out without it making it feel like it has overstayed its welcome.

As for what we’ll see in the ring…I mean, it’s Omega and Ospreay. It’ll be more unbridled high-octane lunacy. There will be stiff chops and kicks galore. Both men will fly around the ring and at each other with blind aggression. We will see counter after counter, escape after escape, big move after big move. This will live up to the lofty standard these two set back at Wrestle Kingdom 17. I don’t know if they’ll surpass that standard but they’ll definitely come close.

Match Result: DRAW due to time-limit or double count-out (Kenny Omega remains IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion)

Marc: As for the other half of the co-main event, if AEW goes over in one of them, it’s best to have NJPW go over in the other. That said, a Will Ospreay win does achieve more than having NJPW walk away the winner. It also evens the odds between the two, with Omega winning the title in Japan. To have Ospreay win it in Omega’s home country of Canada follows the narrative that they set months ago. Also, it should be noted that Ospreay’s recent comments and dislike for Canada and that we have all the makings of a story being told outside the ring along with inside the ring. To have Omega lose, likely at the hands of Don Callis, also adds to the divide between them and adds to the one-upmanship between the BCC and the Elite.

Winner: AND NEW IWGP US Champion, Will Ospreay

John: I don’t know if it will be the main event, but with Kenny Omega being a babyface and a Canadian, it makes sense to put it on last. If they go with Danielson-Okada last then that’s certainly fine with me. I’m sure they will get plenty of time and do everything they can to try to top what they did back in January at Wrestle Kingdom. Can they top it? Maybe. I think Omega is likely rested since he hasn’t wrestled in a weeks, but he does do singles matches less often these days. Ospreay is in his prime and should be phenomenal in this match.

I’m going with an Omega win, but it’s certainly possible Ospreay could pick up the victory too. They’ll get all the time they want, so it should be 20-25 minutes at least and maybe more.

Winner: Kenny Omega

Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

Joel: A Dream match. It’s the match I’m most looking forward to. Still, no story. And people tell me “We;; Bryan is tired of people saying Okada’s the best in the world”..Okay? So after this match, is he going to go from WWE to AEW and feud with the 10 other people that have been called the best in the world? I’ts just an excuse. The match will be great. Dave Meltzer will give it 5 Stars before they even lock up. It could’ve been better but I will enjoy the match.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada

Matthew: Finally, we come to one of the two matches that I am actually excited about on this show. Danielson and Okada are two of the greatest in-ring wrestlers of all time, and this is an actual “dream match”. Hopefully the reports of Danielson being banged up are not true, and he will be able to give a 100% to this match. If Danielson is healthy, this one has the potential to be a match of the year candidate. As for who wins I will go with Danielson, after a long match.

Winner: Bryan Danielson

Alex: This is the match I’m looking forward to the most. Both Bryan and Okada can make reasonable claims to being the best wrestler in the world. Both of them have extensive catalogues of amazing matches. Both deliver in the ring more often than not and rarely disappoint. But most importantly, this is match that can’t really be predicted. It could go either way and that’s one of the main reasons to tune in. More than any other on this card, this is the one that lives up to its “dream match” billing.

I have sky-high expectations here. Bryan is a smart wrestler so I expect him to go after Okada’s lariat arm right away. Bryan, like ZSJ, will take Okada to the mat and will try and tap or knock him out. Okada, meanwhile, will be put in a dangerous position since Bryan, while comfortable on the mat, can also hit explosive moves out of nowhere and hit incredibly hard. This won’t be the styles clash some people might be expecting; I expect a smooth and airtight competition here that will go well over twenty minutes. Personally, I want Bryan to win because there’s a lot more money to be made in taking advantage of this relationship. Okada winning once again would be predictable and underwhelming. Bryan winning would create a much-needed underdog situation for Okada ahead of the G1 tournament in July and it would give Bryan some forward momentum should he actually continue wrestling for New Japan like he has wanted to do for years now.

If everything goes as it should, this should be the match of the night. But given the only match still not discussed, it’ll be hard for these two to match, much less surpass, who is remaining.

Winner: Bryan Danielson

Marc: As we approach the co-main event, the finish of who goes over, it is important to note that this is a co-promoted event with NJPW and AEW. With that said, we have four matches on this card, and to this point, we have the IWGP title being retained and the AEW world title being retained. But it’s also important to note this first-ever battle also suggests that it will likely be their only match against one another, for the simple fact that it’s been reported that Danielson’s career may be entering a transition that sees him competing less and taking on more of a backstage role. There is no greater way to claim to be the best in the world than by beating the best in the Eastern world. As the American Dragon squares off against Kazuchika Okada, it benefits the BCC by having Bryan Danielson win. For the sake of him and the faction, a Danielson win makes the most sense and leaves the better impression here.

Winner: Bryan Danielson

John: This might go on last, which certainly makes sense. It’s the match I care about the most and at least they had a brief interaction to end Dynamite to try to make us care about it a bit more. Bryan has done some great promos about how people say Okada is better than him, so Bryan wants to show that he is better. The storyline logic issue is that Bryan lost the AEW World Title match to Revolution, so that means (in terms of wins/losses) that MJF is better than Bryan…in theory. Don’t get me wrong. I get why this match is happening and I am looking forward to it. I’m just saying if Okada is going to face AEW’s best then you can make a case that he should be against MJF. I realize this is more about two legends in terms of their careers, though. I know Bryan has been banged up and wrestling less of late, so that’s probably why he hasn’t been on TV picking up wins.

I think Okada will win because Bryan has no problem losing to anybody. If they had Bryan as the heel in the match then it should be by cheating, but I think when it comes to a “dream match” you should just let them do what they want for 20+ and have a clean ending. It should be awesome.

Winner: Kazuchika Okada


The Match I’m Looking Forward To The Most

Joel: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada.

Matthew: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada.

Alex: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada.

Marc: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay.

John: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada.

The Match I Care About The Least

Joel: SANADA vs. Jungle Boy Jack Perry

Matthew: Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor.

Alex: Athena vs. Billie Starkz.

Marc: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale.

John: Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor. The pre-show match too, but I wanted to pick something from the main show.

Longest Match

Joel: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

Matthew: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay.

Alex: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada (33-37 minutes, because Okada)

Marc: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

John: Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada around 30-35 minutes.

Shortest Match

Joel: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale.

Matthew: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale.

Alex: Athena vs. Billie Starks around 8 minutes.

Marc: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale.

John: Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor around 10 minutes.

Excitement Level on a Scale of 1-10 (1 being low, 10 being high)

Joel: I’m going to go 7 strictly for match quality. Look, the build to Forbidden Door last year sucked. There was zero story development for any of the matches. The build this year has been better but still not great. 3 of the 11 matches here have a legitimate story behind it. We all know that. That’s not what this show is about. It’s for the hardcores who just want to see good matches. That’s great, I guess, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. There’s two legit 5 Star matches in the making on here and several others in the 4 Star variety. Should be a good show. Hopefully the booking makes sense at least.

Matthew: 4. If you are a hardcore wrestling fan who is very familiar with Japanese wrestling, then you probably very excited for this show. Unfortunately, that amounts to Dave Meltzer and about 800,000 other people. If Tony Khan ever wants to grow his company above that, he is going to actually try to do what his competition has been excelling lately at and try to tell a compelling story.

Alex: 9.5. This’ll be a great show but a top-heavy one. Like a typical NJPW show, it’ll start off slow to save the best of the last. There should be at least one MOTYC-level match and I’m confident that the crowd will make this into something truly special. Last time I went to a PPV/PLE was NXT TakeOver: Toronto and I get the strong feeling that this’ll be just as crazy an atmosphere as that one, if not more so.

Marc: 7 – I would have liked it to be higher, but potential matches aren’t booked because too many top guys are tied up in other matches. Page, Castagnoli, and Moxley should be featured in singles matches against NJPW talent, and the Elite/BCC feud should be paused until the next edition of Dynamite.

John: It’s a 7.5 for me. I am not a huge NJPW superfan the way Alex is and I also get Matthew’s point of view too. I just can’t go lower than that score because I’m going to write about this show live and I’ll enjoy it for the four hours. Several matches on the show are going to be rated highly by me as well. While I think a lot of the matches could have had better stories with a better effort, I also get that this is more about putting on unique matches and in some cases like Bryan-Okada, a dream match. Some people might say we’re wrong to be critical about the lack of stories, but I think pro wrestling is always about building stories. In that regard, I think AEW-NJPW could have done a better job of building it.

In Closing

John: I’ll be back with a review of AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door on TJRWrestling.net on Sunday night, so check that out live or any time after it’s over. You can also tweet me @johnreport as well.

If you want to send an email, send it to me at mrjohncanton@gmail.com. Thanks for reading.