The John Report: AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 Review

aew njpw forbidden door 2023 review

It’s AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door with Bryan Danielson facing Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega against Will Ospreay and several other big matches as well.

This is the second AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door pay-per-view event and it’s also the first AEW PPV taking place outside of the United States because they are in Toronto. They are going with Bryan Danielson facing Kazuchika Okada in the main event while MJF defends the AEW World Title against Hiroshi Tanahashi in the opening match. Check out my archive of AEW PPV reviews here.

A slight change to the card took place a few hours before it when Tony Khan announced that Adam Cole was sick. That meant that Cole’s match with Tom Lawlor wasn’t happening. That would have been an easy win for Cole. In its place, Lawlor beat Serpentico in the dark match that took place before the pre-show started.

There were Zero Hour pre-show matches. I didn’t watch the pre-show because AEW PPVs are usually around four hours and it’s a lot of writing, so I’ll just save my energy for the main show. Here are the results of the pre-show matches.

* Mogul Embassy (Swerve Strickland, Toa Liona, Brian Cage & Bishop Kaun) (with Prince Nana) defeated Chaos (Rocky Romero, Chuck Taylor, Trent Beretta & El Desperado

* Athena defeated Billie Starkz in the quarterfinals of the Women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament

* El Phantasmo defeated Stu Grayson

* Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi, Bushi & Hiromu Takahashi) defeated United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher & TJP)

Let’s get to the main show.

AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door
Sunday, June 25, 2023
From the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario

It was right to the action at Forbidden Door. They do not have show opening video packages. The commentary team was Excalibur, Kevin Kelly and Taz.

Hiroshi Tanahashi made his entrance first. Next up was “The Devil” AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman, who was booed as usual. MJF had a robe that said “New Japan is an indie” on it. Nice. They had two ring announcers with Justin Roberts in English and the NJPW announcer as well. This crowd is strongly behind Tanahashi of course.

AEW World Championship: Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

After Tanahashi hit MJF with a shoulder tackle, MJF walked away as if he was going to leave. The referee did a very slow count that allowed MJF to get back in before the ten count. There were “coward” chants towards Max. MJF slowed things down with a waist lock on the mat. When Tanahashi got up, MJF hit a knee to the ribs. MJF did an abdominal stretch while grabbing the ropes leading to a routine with the referee finding out about it, so MJF had to let go. The referee kicked MJF’s arm instead of DQing him and Tanahashi hit a hiptoss. Tanahashi hit a running forearm. Tanahashi hit a senton splash off the turnbuckle for a two count. When Tanahashi went up, MJF stopped him with a punch. Tanahashi knocked MJF down leading to a cross body block. MJF tried to break free, he went up top and Tanahashi slammed MJF off the top as if he was Ric Flair. Tanahashi tried going up top again, but MJF hit the top rope to trip up Tana. MJF hit a superplex for two. MJF tried a move by the ropes, Tanahashi got out of it and then MJF hit a shoulderbreaker on the top of his left knee and MJF was screaming in pain selling the knee injury. MJF got a two count.

MJF shoved Tanahashi in the face repeatedly, so Tanahashi fired back up and MJF poked him in the eye. Tanahashi did a dragon screw leg whip on the left knee leading to Tanahashi applying a Texas Cloverleaf submission, but MJF got to the bottom rope after about 20 seconds. Tanahashi hit a neckbreaker followed by a Slingblade. Tanahashi went up top and jumped off with High Fly Flow (his version of a Frog Splash), but MJF got his knees up to block that, which led to MJF selling the knee injury. MJF grabbed the AEW World Title, went into the ring with it, the referee Bryce Remsburg took the title away and Tanahashi got a rollup for two because the referee was getting rid of the title. As Tanahashi argued with the referee, MJF shoved Tanahashi into referee Remsburg and MJF punched Tanahashi with the Dynamite Diamond Ring. MJF put the ring back in his trunks leading to the pinfall win at 15:30.

Winner by pinfall: Maxwell Jacob Friedman

Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good opener with MJF getting the cheap win as usual. I liked how MJF sold the left knee injury to look vulnerable during the match and he kept selling it well throughout out the match. While I think Tanahashi is one of the best Japanese wrestlers ever, he’s also 46 years old, which means he’s definitely slowing down in terms of his work in the ring. MJF winning was never in doubt.

Post match, MJF did a good job of selling the left knee injury as he left with the AEW World Title.

Every time they show the announcers and Excalibur is shilling things while wearing a mask, it looks so silly. I know he was a wrestler that wore a mask, but he stopped wrestling so just take the mask off and try to look more professional. Anyway, they aired a video showing AEW contests on Draftkings, which is a top AEW sponsor.

CM Punk was booed heavily for his entrance. Punk was wearing a CMFTR shirt. Punk touched the Owen Hart Cup trophy that he’s probably going to win.

Owen Hart Cup Tournament Quarterfinals: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima

The fans were really aggressive with their booing towards Punk. Kojima worked over Punk with punches along with a running shoulder tackle. Kojima is a 31-year veteran as pointed out by Taz. Punk knocked Kojima out of the ring and Punk delivered some chops. Kojima came back with chops including a hard chop that sent Punk over a barricade. When Punk was on the apron, Kojima tripped him up. Back in the ring, Punk hit a jumping side kick. Punk did a Hulk Hogan style leg drop. Punk worked over Kojima with repeatedly left arm clotheslines in the corner followed by a belly-to-back suplex. Punk did a Mongolian chop because Tenzan did that move and he was Kojima’s partner, so Kelly mentioned that. Thanks Kevin. Punk missed a corner splash, so Kojima delivered machine gun chops to the chest multiple times. Kojima hit a corner splash. Kojima jumped off the top with an elbow drop that looked painful because it hit Punk low in the stomach or maybe a bit lower in the “yambag” region according to Taz. Kojima hit a DDT. Punk countered a Kojima move and sent him into the turnbuckle. Punk delivered a running knee followed by a clothesline. Punk climbed to the top rope, looked at the crowd, the fans were booing Punk heavily and Punk eventually jumped off with an elbow drop for two. That was a very safe elbow compared to what Kojima did. Punk applied the Anaconda Vice submission, but Kojima fought out of it with punches.

Punk teased the GTS, but the Kojima hit his own series of Mongolian chops followed by a Koji Cutter. Kojima went for the lariat, but Punk avoided it and hit a neckbreaker for two. There were some chants for Punk, but then there were loud boos drowning those chants. Punk went for the GTS, Kojima caught the leg and punched Punk. Kojima hit a brainbuster for two. Punk delivered a roundhouse kick followed by a Go To Sleep (GTS) knee to the head for the pinfall win at 13:40. It was a poor GTS in terms of how it looked.

Winner by pinfall: CM Punk

Analysis: ***1/4 I think it ended up as a pretty good match. I liked the fire by Kojima throughout the match. He did a lot of his classic moves and the fans were familiar with it. CM Punk getting booed throughout the match was the most interesting part about it. When some fans tried to cheer Punk, the boos drowned them out. That was one of the weaker GTS moves I’ve seen Punk do. It just didn’t look that good. If you thought Kojima had any shot to win this match then you are bad at predicting wrestling matches. There’s no other way for me to say it.

After the match, Punk picked up Kojima and showed him respect.

A commercial aired for the AEW All Out pay-per-view on Sunday, September 3rd. That is one week after the All In show in England on August 27th.

International Championship: Orange Cassidy vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia

There are no countouts and no disqualifications in a four-way match.

Orange did his comedy kicks to start the match. Sabre trapped Orange in a submission move, but Garcia got into the ring to exchange strikes with Sabre. Shibata delivered strikes with Garcia and a couple of hard slaps to Garcia, who did some bad dancing moves. All four guys were in the ring leading to running kick spots and then they all bumped to the mat at the same time. That looked ridiculous, but it led to cheers. They did a comedy spot with Sabre and Shibata slapping eachother while Orange and Garcia were on their backs. They did about eight suplexes in a row with all four guys doing turns doing it. Orange hit Stundog Millionaire and a DDT on Garcia for a two count. Sabre and Orange got knocked off the apron. Garcia hit Shibata with the ROH Pure Title that Shibata holds and that got a two count. Shibata no sold a bunch of strikes leading to Shibata striking Garcia repeatedly. Shibata hit a running dropkick against the turnbuckle. Orange and Shibata sat in the ring to exchange some chops, which looks stupid, but the fans chanted “this is awesome” for it. Orange hit an Orange Punch and Shibata came back with a running forearm. Orange hit Beach Break on Shibata for two. Lots of moves were attempted with nothing working for anybody until Sabre hit a forearm on Garcia. Sabre countered Orange doing a move leading to a submission pulling back on the arm. Shibata kicked Sabre in the left arm to break the hold. Shibata kicked Garcia off the apron. Sabre got a bridging pin for two. Garcia broke up a Sabre pin attempt. Garcia hit a backslide for two. Garcia hit a piledriver on Sabre. Shibata with a PK kick on Garcia and then Orange hooked the arms of Garcia to pin him. It went about 11:15.

Winner by pinfall: Orange Cassidy

Analysis: ***1/2 A fast-paced match full of action. Sabre was the most impressive wrestler in the match while Shibata is great. It was hard to take Garcia seriously with his stupid dancing and he just didn’t have enough moments where it looked like he had a shot to win. There was one spot in the match where Garcia used a title as a weapon, but then nobody else used a weapon during the match. If a heel in the match uses a weapon once and it doesn’t work, he should try other weapons. Instead, they acted like you couldn’t use weapons. I’m not surprised that Orange got the win.

That was Orange Cassidy’s 25th successful International Title defense. It is a good thing to be Tony Khan’s favorite wrestler.

After the match, Sabre got in Orange’s face to make it clear that he wanted to face Orange in a singles match. Shibata got into the ring as well and those three guys all had a staredown. Sabre left. Orange and Shibata shook hands.

A video aired about SANADA defending the IWGP World Heavyweight Title against “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry.

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

The fans chanted for “red shoes” the referee, so he acknowledged them. Sanada hit a shoulder tackle, but then jack applied a Snare Trap submission leading to Sanada getting to the ropes. Sanada connected with a dropkick. Jack managed to knock Sanada out of the ring with a dropkick followed by a suicide dive on the floor. Sanada trapped Jack in move where his hands were trapped between the legs and Sanada hit a dropkick. Don’t show that move to people that think wrestling is fake. Just saying. Sanada hit a boot to the face, but Jack barely sold it and hit a dropkick. Jack hit a running clothesline followed by a Tiger Driver for two. Sanada hit a neckbreaker off the ropes. They exchanged chops to the chest along with forearms. Jack got a backslide pin for two. Sanada blocked a move, but then Jack applied the submission move Skull End that Sanada uses and Sanada got his foot on the bottom rope. Sanada came back with a Death Valley Driver for a two count. Sanada went for a moonsault off the top, Jack moved out of the way and Jack hit a poison rana. Sanada went for Skull End, but Jack countered it into a pin attempt. Sanada hit a poison rana of his own followed by a Shining Wizard knee for two. Sanada hit a backbreaker followed by a moonsault off the top for the pinfall win at 10:40.

Winner by pinfall: SANADA

Analysis: *** Good action for the most part with a flat finish. When Sanada hit the moonsault and won with it, I almost thought it was an accident with Jack forgetting to kick out. Nope. That was the finish. It just didn’t feel like a big match even though it’s for the IWGP World Title.

Post match, Sanada celebrated with his title while Jack Perry was helped up to his feet by Hook.

They showed Jack and Hook on the ramp. Jack decked Hook with a clothesline. Taz, who is Hook’s dad, shouted “Holy Shit” when Jack hit Hook with the clothesline. The fans were booing Jack. Taz said he was trying to act professionally.

Analysis: That heel turn was rumored for a few weeks at least, so there it is after Jack lost a big match. I don’t know if Jack will thrive as a heel, but I like him as a performer, so I wish him good luck.

Tony Schiavone replaced Taz on commentary. They now have three traditional play-by-play announcers and no analysts. I know Tony is not a play-by-play guy in AEW, but he was for a lot of his career. In AEW, Tony basically just thinks every babyface is great, every heel is mean and he’s a cheerleader on commentary.

The entrances took place for the five-on-five tag team match. That took a few minutes. The fans sang along with the “Carry On Wayward Son” song for The Elite guys. The Blackpool Combat Club entered from the back part of the arena.

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

Umino and Page battled eachother with Page getting a trip leading to some hard kicks. Ishii tagged leading to a double team shoulder tackle. Takeshita and Ishii exchanged forearms (I think every match on this show has this spot). They did double shoulder tackle spots about four times and then each guy got a knock down. Takeshita and Ishii did a collision spot leading to a bump, so the fans could cheer. Nick hit a hurricanrana on Takeshita and the Bucks cleaned house with dropkicks. Moxley faced off with his buddy Kingston, which led to the crowd standing for it. Moxley and Kingston exchanged chops, then Yuta went into the ring and was chopped, so then all the partners got into the ring to brawl. The Bucks each hit dives off the top onto guys on the floor. Page hit a moonsault off the top onto two guys on the floor. Claudio illegally went into the ring with an uppercut on Moxley, so then Claudio tagged himself in. Claudio with more uppercuts. Kingston hit two chops, but then Claudio hit a clothesline. Yuta put Kingston on the apron and Claudio hit a boot while Moxley chose not to hit Eddie there. Ishii went into the ring illegally and then Takeshita hit Ishii with a forearm to the head. Umino tagged in with a neckbreaker on Kingston. Eddie tried to break free to tag out, but Moxley tagged in and stopped Kingston from making a tag. Mox and Kingston exchanged chops along with a double clothesline.

Ishii tagged in against Umino with a shoulder tackle. Yuta into the ring illegally, Ishii took care of him and Claudio in illegally with an uppercut. Ishii hit a brainbuster on Claudio. Takeshita with a Helluva Kick, then a rolling elbow and Umino/Takeshita hit a double team sitout slam. Takeshita was in the ring illegally for a minute there. Moxley into the ring illegally, so Ishii suplexed him and Ishii hit a back suplex on Umino. Page tagged in against Takeshita with a boot to the face and when Takeshita tried a springboard attack, Takeshita hit a forearm to the face. Page hit a fallaway slam on Takeshita across the ring. Page was cleaning house with strikes for all of the heels and Page hit a running SSP off the apron onto Umino on the floor. Hangman hit a sloppy clothesline off the top on Takeshita for two. Page and The Bucks all hit kicks on Takeshita at the same time. The Bucks did a bunch of tag team moves and then Takeshita avoided a BTE Trigger knee attack. Takeshita hit a double German Suplex on both Bucks. The Bucks hit double superkicks on everybody on the other team, but then Kingston moved Moxley in the way so the Bucks kicked Eddie. Takeshita hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Takeshita likes doing Sami Zayn moves. Yuta tagged in against Matt while Takeshita slammed Matt, hit a suplex and Yuta hit a German Suplex for two. The BCC team came back with four guys in the ring meaning Three of them were illegal. Claudio did a Swing and Yuta hit a dropkick for two as other faces broke it up. Nick did a springboard attack pulling Yuta by the hair to prevent a double team move. Ishii hit a superplex off the middle rope on Yuta. Eddie into the ring illegally for some double team offense with Ishii on Yuta. After Yuta hit a slam on two for Ishii, the other guys in the match all ran into the ring to do big moves followed by guys going out of the ring right after. Yuta hit a release German Suplex on Page after Hangman went for the Buckshot Lariat. Ishii hit a running clothesline on Yuta along with a sheer drop brainbuster for the pinfall win at 21:25.

Winners by pinfall: The Elite (“Hangman” Adam Page, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson), Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii

Analysis: **** I thought it was a great match as usual when the BCC guys are in a tag team match with The Elite. I certainly didn’t think Ishii would get the pinfall, but Yuta getting beat is something that was certainly a possibility going into it. They did a nice job of telling the story that Kingston didn’t want to fight Moxley and that led to some fun moments with the crowd getting really hot for it. The usual fault in a match like that is that there’s way too much illegal action with guys randomly going into the ring, but at this point when you watch AEW you get used to it. I just think the matches can be better if you actually try to tell a story. Anyway, I think Takeshita stood out for most of the match and I thought he would win the match, but at least he looked impressive for most of it.

After the match, they tried to put over the story that Kingston was conflicted about the match due to being against his buddy Moxley.

There was a video about the Toni Storm-Willow Nightingale match even though there’s no real storyline going into it.

AEW Women’s Championship: Toni Storm (w/Saraya & Ruby Soho) vs. Willow Nightingale

This was just for Storm’s title while Willow is the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion.

Willow was in control early with a running dropkick that knocked Storm out of the ring. Willow confronted Ruby and Soho on the floor and Willow beat them up easily with a double noggin knocker. Storm capitalized with a running hip attack to knock Willow off the apron. Storm was in control with a weak chinlock leading to Willow powering out of it with a Samoan Drop style move. Willow with a kick. Storm to the apron and she did a neckbreaker against the ropes. Willow hit a Death Valley Driver on the apron for two. Willow hit a Death Valley Driver in the ring for a two count. Ruby and Saraya threw a can of spray paint into the ring, the referee saw it and ejected Ruby/Saraya from ringside. Willow hit a clothesline. Willow missed a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle, so Storm hit a DDT and a hip attack. Storm hit another DDT for a two count. Storm was bleeding from the nose. Willow came back with an Indian Death Lock submission on the legs of Storm. To get out of it, Storm bit Willow’s knee. Storm charged, but Willow hit a Pounce to knock Storm out of the ring. Willow worked over Storm with lariats against the turnbuckle. Storm pulled the referee in front of her to avoid a splash. Storm did an eye gouge and the Storm Zero for the pinfall win at 10:29.

Winner by pinfall: Toni Storm

Analysis: *** The match was solid with Storm doing two moves to win following the eye gouge. Willow was on offense for most of the match and nearly won, but the crafty heel Storm found a way to get it done. Another champion retains, which is what most of us expected.

They showed Skye Blue watching the match with a disappointed look on her face. Britt Baker also was shown watching and looking upset by it.

The Kenny Omega-Will Ospreay match was up next, so there was a video package about it.

Will Ospreay made his entrance first with Don Callis joining him along with “military-grade security” escorting Ospreay toward the ring. Kenny Omega was up next as the IWGP US Champion with the fans giving him a huge ovation since Omega is a Canadian performing in front of a vocal Canadian crowd. Certain wrestling observers are giddy about this match. I think it will be pretty fun too.

IWGP US Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (w/Don Callis)

They started with some basic holds like chinlocks and armbars. The fans were chanting for both guys along with a “Callis sucks” chant. Omega got some offense going with elbows. Ospreay came back with some chops. They each blocked moves, then Omega went for a Snapdragon Suplex and Ospreay did a backflip onto his feet. When Ospreay went for a kick, Omega avoided it and the fans cheered. Omega hit a hurricanrana followed by a rolling senton and moonsault off the turnbuckle for two. Omega ran the ropes going for a move on Ospreay on the floor, but Callis tried to trip Omega. The referee saw it, so Callis was sent to the back. Ospreay capitalized with a cross body block on the floor. Ospreay sent Omega into the steel steps and into the ring post. Back in the ring, Ospreay hit a spinning backbreaker. Ospreay applied an abdominal stretch as the fans chanted for both guys. Omega broke free with a dropkick to the knee and a leg drop to the back of the head followed by the running dunk for two. Omega with a chops, Ospreay jumped off the chest and hit an enziguri kick. Ospreay suplexed Omega onto the top rope, then Omega had to hold himself by grabbing the bottom rope and Ospreay hit a Shooting Star Press off the top to the back! That was so great. Ospreay hit an Oscutter on the apron. Ospreay’s back took the whole bump, but I guess the move hurts due to the neck snapping as well. They left the ring with the referee leaving the floor with him. Ospreay slammed Omega’s head into the hood of the commentary table three times. They were hard slams into the table. Opsreay walked away and the camera was on him to allow Omega to blade himself. Omega was bleeding from the forehead as Ospreay slammed Omega through the hood of the table. After two minutes on the floor, the referee Paul Turner started counting. At least the announcers tried to explain it saying it was the referee’s discretion in NJPW rules.

Ospreay worked over Omega with forearms while Kelly talked about how Omega bloodied Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom so now Ospreay bloodied Omega. Ospreay licked some of Omega’s blood that was on Ospreay’s arm. The fans chanted “you sick f**k” and Will said: “I am.” That was pretty gross. Omega tried to fight back with punches, but Ospreay delivered a hard forearm to the head. Ospreay hit a V-Trigger knee (Omega’s move) to the head as Omega sold it like he was hurting on the apron. Ospreay grabbed a Canadian flag from a fan. Ospreay rubbed the flag across his groin and put the flag in his nose after. When Omega got back up, Omega delivered a clothesline. If you did that to a flag in another country, you would get arrested, but in Canada we know it’s just a show. Omega used the flag to toss Ospreay across the ring two times. Omega choked Ospreay with the flag by the ropes as well. Omega gave the flag to some young fans at ringside. Omega hit a v-Trigger knee on Ospreay by the barricade. Omega slammed Ospreay’s head onto the top of the steel steps. Omega walked away, so Ospreay did his blade job and Ospreay was a bloody mess. Ospreay was a lot bloodier than Omega was. They stood on the steel steps with Omega delivering a DDT onto the steps. That sounded loud.

Back in the ring, Omega went for an armbar on the left arm, but Ospreay tried to fight out of it and Ospreay hit a Powerbomb to counter the hold. They took turns hitting German Suplex on eachother. Ospreay hit a headbutt, but Omega hit a running knee. Omega charged and Ospreay hit a Spanish Fly slam for two. Great nearfall there. Ospreay applied a Sharpshooter submission with the fans booing it because they don’t like seeing Ospreay doing Bret Hart’s move. It wasn’t a great Sharpshooter, but Omega sold it well and powered out of it. Ospreay applied a Crossface submission move, which also drew boos. Some fans chanted “you sick f**k” at Ospreay because it was Chris Benoit’s move. After about a minute, Omega got to the ropes to break three. The ring was full of blood. Ospreay with kicks to the head, then chops to the chest and Omega tried strikes, but they weren’t that effective. Ospreay delivered two kicks to the head. Ospreay went for a springboard attack, but Omega hit a knee lift to knock Ospreay down. Omega made the comeback with two Snapdragon Suplexes. Omega hit a knee to the back, then a poison rana and a spike piledriver for two. Omega with a neckbreaker onto the knee. Ospreay was against the turnbuckle, so Omega hit a running double knee attack. They battled by the turnbuckle, Ospreay caught Omega and Ospreay delivered a superkick leading to Omega going to the floor. Ospreay hit a Sky Twister Press onto Omega on the floor for two. Amazing move. Back in the ring, Ospreay hit jumping forearm to the back. Ospreay went for a strike, Omega avoided it and Omega hit a knee. Ospreay countered Omega leading to a Liger Bomb for Ospreay for two. Ospreay jumped off the top with an Oscutter for a two count. Ospreay tried a move, but Omega had Ospreay on his back and Omega dropped to the match for a crunch move. Don Callis showed up at ringside again, the fans chanted “piece of shit” and Tony said that was his favorite chant of the night.

Omega delivered a knee to the face a few times in a row. Callis went on the apron to hold Ospreay by the apron and Omega stil hit the V-Trigger knee on Ospreay. The referee prevented Callis from holding onto Ospreay, so then Callis handed Ospreay with a screwdriver to the head. The referee didn’t see. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade elbow and Stormbreaker for one…two…and no because Kenny got his foot on the bottom rope! That was an awesome nearfall. Ospreay with a knee to the face. Ospreay hit the One Winged Angel (Omega’s move) for just a one count because Omega kicked out! The fans came alive. They got into a slap/strike fest with Omega hitting a knee, but Ospreay hit a hook kick. Omega with a brainbuster. Omega hit a bridging German Suplex for two. Omega hit a V-Trigger knee. Ospreay hit a ripcord elbow and a Tiger Driver 91 dropping Omega on his head/neck for a two count. That looked like a painful bump. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade elbow to the head. Ospreay hit a Stormbreaker for the pinfall win at 39:47.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW IWGP US Champion: Will Ospreay

Analysis: ***** Wow. What an incredible performance from both men. It’s a five star match to me. That’s as high as my scale goes and if others want to go higher they can do it, but I’ll stick with just five. It really was an outstanding match that is going to be a contender in any Match of the Year discussion at the end of the year. Ospreay and Omega have incredible chemistry together. There were so many great nearfalls and moments where the crowd got back into it supporting Omega. Ospreay did cheat with a screwdriver, but Omega kicked out of that, so you can’t say that Ospreay won just because of the cheap screwdriver attack. I thought when Omega kicked out at one that he was going to make the comeback to win, but that didn’t happen. I think the blood from both guys really added a lot to the match just to put over the physicality of the match as well. Ospreay using the flag to really heel it up was smart even though some fans might be legitimately offended by it because it’s not smart to do that to a flag. Omega and Ospreay clearly have amazing chemistry together. I want to see it again and again, but it’s important to not rush it and to build it up the right way in the future. I absolutely loved this match. It’s probably my favorite AEW match to date.

Will Ospreay celebrated with the IWGP US Title. Omega won it from Ospreay in January, so now Omega got the title back.

There was another Draftkings promotional ad.

Two matches left with the six-man tag up next. Minoru Suzuki was up first followed by Chris Jericho getting the huge crowd reaction as the fans sang “Judas” for their fellow Canadian. Sammy Guevara was with Jericho too. Sting and Darby Allin were up next with the fans cheering for the Stinger loudly. I saw Sting wrestle in that same building for WCW in 1999, just saying. Tetsuya Naito was last for the babyface team and the fans liked seeing him a lot.

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

Sammy was impressive as he did a backflip avoiding a charging Naito and Sammy hit a dropkick. Naito sent Sammy out of the ring. Naito took control with an armdrag and dropkick. When Allin tagged in, Suzuki tagged in for the heel team. Allin and Suzuki exchanged strikes with Suzuki decking Allin with a forearm. Allin with a chop, Suzuki delivered a slap and when Allin tried a leaping attack, Suzuki grabbed a sleeper leading to Allin countering into a pin for two. Sting tagged in so Jericho demanded a tag. Jericho exchanged words with Sting, who was wrestling in long sleeve shirt. Suzuki jumped in with a double axhandle on Sting, but Sting fought back to clear the ring with Jericho. Sting and Jericho got into it with Jericho missing a corner splash. Sting applied the Scorpion Death Lock, so Sammy jumped off the top with a Cutter. That didn’t look pretty, but it was sold like it was effective. Jericho and Sammy did a double shoulder tackle. The heel team posed together in the ring leading to cheers. Sammy was punching Sting, but Sting countered with a move sending Sammy into the turnbuckle. Allin tagged in with a corner splash and a Code Red for two. Allin up top, Jericho got Allin’s attention and Sammy hit a Spanish Fly off the top for two. Sammy and Allin did a collision spot by hitting their heads together. The match broke down from there with all six guys getting involved. Allin hit a dive onto Suzuki on the floor. When Allin tried a dive on Jericho, Chris hit him with a Judas Effect elbow. Jericho sent Sting into the barricade. Sting set up a table by the apron. Sammy went diving through the table while Sting avoided it. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho on Naito, but Sting stopped that and Sting went for his submission. Suzuki went after Sting and Jericho hit a Codebreaker on Naito for two. Suzuki hit a running knee on Naito followed by a knee to the jaw. Sting went into the ring illegally and Sting hit a lariat as Naito rolled through and sat on top of Suzuki for the pinfall win at 15:11.

Winners by pinfall: Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito

Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match with a flat finish. The fans were into some parts of it, but then there were times where they barely reacted, including during the finish. I respect Sting a lot, but he looks exhausted out there and looks like he’s in pain too. It is the year where Sting should retire. I’m surprised Allin didn’t do more because he should have been a bigger part of the match to make it more exciting. The table spot with Sammy and Sting looked really bad. As I said, Sting needs to retire very soon. He has nothing left to prove.

Post match, Jericho hit Naito with a baseball bat to the back. Sting took the bat from Jericho and hit Sting hit Jericho with the back. Jericho left.

Analysis: They will probably do another Jericho-Sting tag team match, but I don’t think Sting wants a singles match.

There was a brief video ahead of the main event.

Bryan Danielson made his entrance first using the classic “Final Countdown” song that Bryan used earlier in his career in ROH. That was cool to hear Bryan make his entrance to that song. Kazuchika Okada got a huge pop as the babyface in the match. The fans are very familiar with him and greeted him with a superstar reaction.

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson

The fans chanted “holy shit” and then the bell rang, which led to cheers. The fans chanted “this is awesome” before any contact was made. It was a slow feeling out process early as Bryan tripped up Okada and stomped on the back of the knees. After Okada got a bit of offense, Bryan took over while they were on the floor. Bryan hit a running knee off the apron onto Okada. Bryan sent Okada into the ring post. Bryan continued on offense with a double knee attack to the arm for two. Bryan was in control with a cattle mutilation submission while hooking the arms and then Bryan went for a pin attempt, but Okada kicked out. Bryan delivered chops, Okada no-sold them and Bryan delivered a kick, so Okada fired back. Bryan hit a boot on a running Okada leading to Okada hitting a flapjack for two. Okada with running elbows leading to a big boot to the head. Okada planted Bryan with a DDT for two. Bryan went to the turnbuckle, Okada put him on the top rope and Okada hit a dropkick to knock Bryan down to the floor. Bryan whipped Okada into the barricade. Bryan was in the crowd a bit, which led to Okada hitting a running cross body block on Bryan on the floor.

They were back in the ring with Okada applying an armbar on the right arm. Okada hit an air raid neckbreaker for two. Bryan came back with a missile dropkick off the top. They exchanged forearms, which has been done in nearly every match on this show. After Okada beat up Bryan with uppercuts, he hit his own dropkick. Bryan came back with a German Suplex. Bryan hit two running kicks in the corner, which led to Okada coming back with a dropkick. Okada wanted a Rainkmaker, Bryan got out of it and Okada hit a dropkick. Okada jumped off the top with an elbow drop, but Bryan caught the right arm and Bryan wrenched back on the right arm. Bryan went for the LeBell Lock leading to Okada getting his feet on the ropes for the break. Bryan with a running kick In the middle of the back. Bryan tried a dive, Okada caught him and Bryan came back with a dropkick on the floor. Bryan delivered the Yes Kicks on the floor and Bryan wanted a roundhouse kick, but Okada caught him and hit a piledriver on the ramp. Ouch! Back in the ring, Okada hit an elbow drop off the top. Bryan was convulsing a bit, so referee Remsburg called for Dr. Sampson to check on Bryan. Okada brought Bryan back up, but Bryan ran the ropes and hit a jumping knee. Bryan hit another jumping knee for a two count. Bryan shouted that it was “time to kick his f**king head in” so Bryan stomped on Okada. When Okada came back, he hit a Rainmaker clothesline for two as the fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Okada hit a short clothesline two more times. Bryan avoided a Rainmaker attempt and Bryan took down Okada by the right arm. Bryan applied the LeBell Lock on the right side. Bryan changed it up by pulling back on both arms. When Okada got close to the ropes, Bryan elbowed him in the head. Bryan pulled back on both arms and Okada tapped out at 27:48. The crowd didn’t expect that ending, so Excalibur said the crowd was stunned.

Winner by submission: Bryan Danielson

Analysis: ****1/4 It was an outstanding match as expected here, but the finish was definitely flat. You can say that the crowd was stunned all you want. It’s also a way to say it’s not a super hot finish. That’s really not a major complaint, though. They worked their asses off and they had a great match. No doubt about it. I don’t think I can rate it higher than what I have there, but I mean going over four stars is still very impressive. I don’t think most people thought that Bryan would make Okada tap out clean to win the match, so at least you can say it was an unpredictable ending. Bryan was a technical wrestling marvel throughout the match while Okada kept on coming with his mix of speed/power, but Okada couldn’t put him away. Bryan kept on being aggressive and found a way to win.

Bryan Danielson celebrated the win as Final Countdown continued to play. The fast talker Excalibur thanked us for watching and that was the end of the show. Danielson was smiling a lot as he celebrated the win.

NOTE: After the show, Danielson said he fractured his right forearm in the last ten minutes of the match. Sounds brutal, but he said it’s about 6-8 weeks off, so it’s not as bad as missing several months.

AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door had a runtime of 3:58:10 on pay-per-view.


Five Stars of the Show

  1. Will Ospreay
  2. Kenny Omega
  3. Bryan Danielson
  4. Kazuchika Okada
  5. The Elite (“Hangman” Adam Page, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson), Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii


Final Thoughts

It gets an 8.25 out of 10 from me.

This was a very good show carried by the in-ring action obviously because that’s all there was. No interviews with wrestlers and not many video packages in between the matches. It was all action, which is what the hardcore AEW audience wants. I’d rate the first half at about 7 out of 10 and the second half about 9.5 out of 10, so that’s how I came up with 8.25 overall. It’s not always a scientific thing like that, but in this case it was.

The Will Ospreay-Kenny Omega is definitely a match of the year contender and arguably the greatest AEW match ever. They absolutely crushed it with so many memorable moments that it’s hard to remember them all. The amount of nearfalls helped a lot because you think Kenny might win, but then Will kicks out and it keeps going. It was brilliant pro wrestling and it actually had a story, so that always helps too. That match stood out the most on the show.

I also enjoyed the Bryan Danielson-Kazuchika Okada and 10-man Tag Team Match as two more outstanding matches. The finish to the Danielson/Okada certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s not like it was a bad finish. I’m just saying it was surprising. The 10-man Tag Team Match was a lot of fun, but we also just got the BCC and The Elite in a 10-man tag last month in a better match. There were some different people in this match, so that made it feel a bit different.

Most of the rest of the card had good action. You know on a four-hour show with nine matches that everything is going to get plenty of time. I still wish they did a better job of trying to tell stories going into some of these matches. The Toronto crowd was super hot and really helped some of the matches because of the familiarity with the talent. I liked the show. I wouldn’t call it some all-time great show overall, although from a pure wrestling standpoint there was a lot to like. I think an all-time great show has to have more memorable stories/moments. I still rated it highly as you can see if you read the whole review.


My AEW PPV reviews for 2023:

Revolution (March 5) – 8.25

AEW-NJPW Forbidden Door (June 25) – 8.25

Double or Nothing (May 29) – 7.5


Thanks for reading this review. My contact info is below.


Twitter: @johnreport