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LECLAIR’S AEW/NJPW FORBIDDEN DOOR 2022 REPORT
JUNE 26, 2022
CHICAGO, IL AT UNITED CENTER
AIRED LIVE ON B/R LIVE (U.S.), NJPW WORLD (Japan), FITE.TV (Int.)
Forbidden Door Announcers: Excalibur & Tax & Kevin Kelly
-“It’s Sunday, you know what that means!” Excalibur exclaimed over a cold open. Pyro shot from the entrance stage and the announcers welcomed the crowd to the United Center in Chicago. Excalibur threw to an ad from betting sponsor, Draft Kings.
-Chris Jericho, flanked by Sammy Guevara and Tay Conti, entered for the opening match. Justin Roberts noted that the winner will have the advantage in the upcoming Blood and Guts match. The camera panned to various fans singing along to “Judas.” Jericho gave Conti a kiss on the hand as the crowd finished their serenade. Minoru Suzuki entered next. Kevin Kelly recommended no one make eye contact with him.
Shota Umino entered. The announcers talked over a clip of Chris Jericho putting Umino in the Walls of Jericho years ago at Wrestle Kingdom. Wheeler Yuta and Eddie Kingston entered. Kingston had to be held back from Jericho.
(1) CHRIS JERICHO & SAMMY GUEVARA & MINORU SUZUKI (w/ Tay Conti) vs. SHOTA UMINO & WHEELER YUTA & EDDIE KINGSTON – Trios match
Wheeler Yuta began the match with Sammy Guevara. Chris Jericho tagged himself in before Guevara could get going. Jericho slapped Yuta in the face. Wheeler Yuta shrugged it off and hit Jericho with some quick right hands. Yuta transitioned into a German Suplex. He held his grip and hit five more. Jericho blocked the seventh with an elbow to the head. Wheeler took him down and went for the Crossface. Minoru Suzuki and Sammy Guevara entered to break the hold quickly. The babyfaces entered too. A six man brawl ensued around ringside.
Suzuki no-sold forearms from Umino on the outside. Jericho brought Yuta back into the ring and tagged in Sammy Guevara. Guevara taunted Eddie Kingston as he returned to the apron. Kingston launched himself into the ring, necessitating a break up from referee Aubrey Edwards. With order restored, Guevara hit a springboard back elbow on Yuta. Wheeler recovered and tagged in Shota Umino. Umino dropped Guevara with a quick dropkick, then jawed at Suzuki on the apron.
Guevara tagged in Jericho. He chopped Umino hard, then laughed. Umino shook it off and elbowed Jericho into the corner. Umino tagged in Eddie Kingston, leading to a big pop from the Chicago crowd. Kingston begged Jericho to come at him. Jericho tagged Suzuki instead. Minoru stepped to Kingston in the center of the ring and poked his chest. He and Kingston traded open-handed chops. Kingston chopped Suzuki all the way to the corner. He hit a dozen more in rapid succession. Suzuki stepped out, unaffected. He dropped Eddie with a massive chop. Suzuki pulled Kingston up by the nose, then tagged in Jericho. Jericho climbed on Eddie’s shoulder blade in the corner, throwing an arm up to taunt the crowd.
Kingston recovered and began chopping Jericho rapidly. Guevara stepped onto the middle rope to intervene, but Eddie chopped him to the floor. Suzuki grabbed Kingston’s arm and applied an arm bar over the rope. Jericho took Kingston down and elbowed at his rib cage as the match hit 8:00. He dragged Eddie to the corner and tagged in Suzuki. Minoru gave Shota Umino a big boot off the apron, then chopped Yuta to the floor. He covered Kingston for a two count. Eddie hit a couple of chops, but Suzuki shrugged them off and grabbed a stretch. Wheeler Yuta entered, but Guevara trapped him in a Crossface. Jericho applied an abdominal stretch on Umino. Kingston eventually fell into the ropes to break the (legal) hold.
Sammy Guevara tagged in. Kingston took him down and tagged in Umino. Shota hit Sammy with a tossing body slam and leaping elbow. Suzuki entered, but ate a dropkick and elbow. Umino hit Guevara with a bridging Fisherman’s Suplex for a two count. Umino dove onto Jericho on the outside. Guevara leapt to the top rope and hit a Shooting Star Press onto Umino on the outside. Wheeler Yuta hit a tucking roll over the top rope onto Guevara. Eddie Kingston dove through the middle rope with an elbow on Sammy. Suzuki looked poised to dive as well, but Yuta cut him off.
Yuta managed to return to his corner and reach Umino for a tag. Wheeler rolled Guevara up for two. Eddie Kingston tagged himself in. Guevara hit Yuta with a standing Spanish Fly. Kingston entered and hit Guevara with a Driver. All six men entered the fray. Guevara gave Umino a top rope cutter. Wheeler Yuta dove onto Guevara with a big splash. Kevin Kelly reset the scene – confirming Guevara and Kingston were the legal men. Eddie tagged in Umino. Guevara hit him with a rising knee around 14:45. Sammy tagged in Jericho. He went for the Walls of Jericho, but Umino turned him off. Jericho hit the Codebreaker and covered for a near fall.
Jericho headed to the top rope. Umino rose to meet him. Shota got underneath Jericho and hit an Avalanche Powerslam. He hooked the leg, but both Suzuki and Guevara broke up the cover. Eddie Kingston pulled Suzuki to the outside. Wheeler got into an argument with Tay Conti. Guevara attacked Yuta from behind, then hit him with the G.T.H. In the ring, Umino scored a near fall on Jericho after a failed Lionsault. Guevara caught Umino in the back with Jericho’s back, out of sight of the official. Jericho went for the Judas Effect, but Umino blocked it and hit a Tornado DDT and Brainbuster for a believable near fall.
On the outside, Suzuki continued to work over Kingston’s arm and hand. Umino applied the Walls of Jericho to Jericho. Guevara kicked Umino in the head, but Shota wouldn’t let go. Suzuki entered and gave Umino a headbutt to break Jericho free. Kingston entered and ate a Piledriver from Suzuki. Suzuki and Guevara stomped away at Umino. Shota recovered, punching them both away. He spun around and ate a Judas Effect from Jericho for a three count.
WINNERS: Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki in 18:59
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good opener with a hot crowd. They were most into Suzuki and Eddie Kingston, and their chop-fest turned out to be the highlight of what was a really good match. It made a lot of sense for the heels to go over here to obtain the advantage for Blood and Guts, and having Jericho beat Shota Umino seemed like the best option. Both Yuta and Kingston were largely protected, while Jericho’s dominance of the younger Umino continued. For his part, though. Shota got some great offense in and looked good even in defeat. Though the pairings felt a little random, this was a lot of fun and should set the table for the rest of the night.)
-Excalibur tossed to a quick video package for the winner-take-all tag title match. Roppongi Vice entered first, followed by Jeff Cobb and Great O’Khan. FTR followed to a massive reaction from the crowd.
(2) ROPPONGI VICE (Trent Beretta & Rocky Romero) vs. JEFF COBB & GREAT O’KHAN (c) vs. FTR (c, Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) – Winner-Take-All for the IWGP & ROH World Tag Team Championships
Trent Beretta opened the match with Dax Harwood. They traded quick take-downs and holds before coming face to face in the center of the ring. Before long, Jeff Cobb tagged himself in off the back of Beretta. Kelly explained the uniqueness of a three-way tag match. Dax Harwood worked Cobb into the corner, but Cobb fought free and hit the ropes. Rocky Romero tagged himself in. Romero and Harwood traded chops. Dax dropped to the mat in pain, his arm going limp. He tagged in Cash Wheeler. Wheeler checked on Harwood, who quickly called for the doctor. Harwood was led to the back, leaving Wheeler alone barely 4:00 in.
Great O’Khan tagged in and began beating down Cash Wheeler. The announcers talked up the major disadvantage for FTR, saying it’s essentially a handicap match where they were already at a disadvantage. O’Khan smashed Wheeler’s head into the turnbuckle and then sat on it. Wheeler was bleeding from the mouth. O’Khan tagged in Jeff Cobb. Cobb continued the assault on Wheeler. He hit a spinning back drop, then crushed Wheeler in the corner. O’Khan tagged in and gave Cash a body slam. Wheeler grabbed O’Khan’s braid and whipped him to the mat, buying time. Realizing he was without his partner, Wheeler tagged in Trent Beretta.
Beretta hip-checked O’Khan in the corner, then gave him a tornado DDT. Jeff Cobb entered. Beretta tried to give him a tornado DDT as well, but Cobb caught him and dead-lifted him into a slam. The two teams spilled to the outside, trading punches and chops. Romero gave Cobb a flying knee from the apron. Beretta tossed O’Khan back inside. He draped him over the top rope, then Romero came in with a big dropkick. Beretta covered for a near fall. Cash Wheeler returned to the apron.
O’Khan backdropped Beretta. Wheeler reached in and tagged Beretta. He took O’Khan down, but Cobb quickly thwarted the comeback. Cobb and O’Khan dumped Romero and Beretta from the apron, then went to work on Wheeler. Kevin Kelly speculated that Dax Harwood may have a dislocated shoulder. Suddenly, Harwood emerged from the back, heavily taped at the arm. The crowd popped big. Wheeler dove to the corner and tagged in the injured Harwood. Dax took it to both O’Khan and Cobb. The announcers noted that it’s not Harwood’s dominant arm that’s injured.
Harwood opened up a series of German Suplexes on Jeff Cobb. Hi hit three before Cobb backed him into the corner. A loud “FTR” chant broke out. Harwood hoisted Cobb to the top turnbuckle. He set up for a Superplex, but wound up awkwardly waiting for Trent Beretta to join the fray. Wheeler tagged in. Harwood and Beretta hit the double Superplex. Cash hit a splash and covered Cobb for a near fall. O’Khan, gave Harwood a pump kick. Rocky Romero tagged himsef in. Wheeler set O’Khan up and Romero completed a spike Piledriver from the top. Rocky Romero dobe onto Cash Wheeler. Romero and Beretta hit double knee strikes on Cobb. Cobb shook it off and gave Beretta a massive Powerbomb.
O’Khan dropped Harwood and Wheeler. Cobb gave Beretta a standing moonsault. Cobb covered for a near fall as the match hit 14:20. Rocky Romero tagged himself in. Harwood pulled O’Khan to the outside. Romero dove onto Harwood and O’Khan. Roppongi Vice hit Cobb with Strong Zero. They covered, but Cash Wheeler broke up the pin just in time. Dax tagged himself in off of Cobb. Romero rolled him up for a two count, but it looked like three. They traded more two count roll ups. Romero caught Harwood with a dropkick. Dax shook it off. Wheeler slid in the ring. FTR hit Big Rig and covered Romero for a three count.
WINNERS: FTR to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship and win the IWGP World Tag Team Championship in 16:20
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, temporarily brought down by what appeared to be a legitimate injury to Dax Harwood. The energy of the crowd immediately came down as they watched a heavy favorite seem to be snake-bitten by what has certainly become an overwhelming issue with this card. Harwood returned about half-way through the match to a massive ovation, and a moment that I think brought the match up a notch overall. The stakes felt quite dire for FTR, and the announcers sounded legitimately concerned. The action was fast and furious, though Roppongi Vice felt a little out of place and certainly seemed like the odd-guys out. I understand having them in there to take the eventual fall, but I think this would’ve meant a lot more as a straight up tag team match between the two title holders.)
-Tony Schiavone was joined by Jay White and Juice Robinson backstage. Robinson said he’s the champion’s champion and plans to defeat the winner of Ospreay and Cassidy. Jay White said he’ll beat Cole, Okada, and Hangman Page to retain the IWGP World title. He gave Robinson a “2 Sweet.” Schiavone threw back to ringside.
-The announcers turned their focus to the four way match for the new AEW All Atlantic title. Clark Connors was introduced to minimal reaction. Pac followed. Malakai Black entered next. Excalibur mentioned that it’s Kevin Kelly’s first time experiencing Black’s entrance. Kelly said you feel goosebumps all over your body. Miro entered to a big reaction. Taz said he’s his pick. Kelly agreed.
(3) MALAKAI BLACK vs. PAC vs. MIRO vs. CLARK CONNORS – 4-Way match for the AEW All Atlantic Championship
Pac shot across the ring and attacked Malakai Black. He clotheslined him to the outside. Miro attacked Pac, allowing Black to recover and pull Pac to the outside. Clark Connors challenged Miro, but got flattened. Miro worked Connors to the corner and jabbed at his stomach. Connors gave Miro two boots the face. Miro shook it off and gave him a body slam. Miro worked Connors to the corner and stomped him. Malakai Black returned, but Miro knocked him back to the outside. Connors managed to give Miro a shoulder tackle right out of the ring. He dove onto Miro on the outside. Miro caught him and slammed him on the floor.
Miro climbed the apron and ate a boot from Malakai Black. He ran to the turnbuckle where Pac was poised and waiting. Black caught Pac with a leaping kick. Pac recovered. He went for a Sunset Bomb, but landed awkwardly. Black smoothly flipped through it and sat down. Miro returned and took Black down. Black caught Miro with a springboard moonsault. Connors tried to give Black a German Suplex, but Black blocked it and then kicked him in the face. Black put Connors in a leg hold. Miro dragged Connors out of the ring by the hair to break the hold. Miro gave Black a shoulder in the corner, then ate a boot from Pac. Pac went for a cross body, but Miro caught him for a Fallaway Slam.
Connors returned. Miro challenged him with an open chest. Connors tried, but Miro scooped him into a slam and covered for a two count. Miro gave him a short-arm clothesline, then called for the crowd to cheer. He gave him a second clothesline, this time with a wind up, followed by a gutwrench. Pac entered to attack Miro, but Black cut him off. Black and Miro briefly worked together to stomp at Pac. They grabbed opposing arms, then began to argue. Miro shoved Black. Malakai gave him a punch. Miro dropped Black with a shoulder. Pac launched himself at Miro, but took a Samoan Drop. Miro covered for a two count at the 7:45 mark.
Miro stomped the mat, calling for Pac to stand. He charged, but Pack caught him with a Superkick. Connors ran at Pac and got tossed over the top rope. Pac dove over the top rope onto Malakai Black. He leapt to the apron and kicked Connors in the head. Pac headed to the top rope and caught Miro with a big missile dropkick. Miro launched to the opposing corner. Black entered, but Pac gave him a ricochet German Suplex. Black rolled to his face and caught Pack with a knee to the head. Connors tried to give Miro a German Suplex, but Miro shrugged him off.
Malakai Black retrieved a table from underneath the ring. He propped it against the crowd barrier. Black tried to toss Miro through the table, but Miro blocked him. They traded attempts before Miro slammed Black into the ring steps. Pac dove onto Miro, but Miro caught him. Pac slid down his back and shoved Miro into the ring post. Miro stumbled backward. Clark Connors appeared and speared Miro through the table. Connors returned to the ring with Black. Pac returned, but Connors gave him a spear. He followed up with Trophy Kill. Connors hooked the leg, but Black broke it up.
Pac flipped over Connors’ back. He caught him with a kick and stumbled back into the corner. Pac climbed the ropes and set up for Black Arrow. Black tripped him up. Black set Pac up for a Superplex. Connors joined in to help the cause. Miro returned and completed the tower, giving them all a Powerbomb. Miro cleared the ring of Black and Connors. He hit Pac with a pump kick. “Game over!” he yelled. He applied the hold. Pac briefly slipped free, but Miro re-applied it. Black entered and spit mist in Miro’s face. Connors returned, but Black flipped him into an Arm Bar. Pac hit the Black Arrow to break the hold. He applied Rings of Saturn to Connors, who tapped out immediately.
WINNER: Pac to win the AEW All Atlantic Championship in 15:05
(LeClair’s Analysis: Strong, chaotic and fun 4-way. I think they knew how much Clark Connors stuck out as the odd man out and used it to their advantage. Connors offense was almost entirely blocked, countered, or shrugged off for the first several minutes of the match. Then, he hit the big table spot with Miro and the entire dynamic changed. Suddenly, to the crowd, he belonged. It was a smart way to turn the disappointment over his inclusion into a genuine come-from-behind underdog story. This was ultimately about the three AEW guys, though, and they all showed why they should be at or very near the top of the card. I don’t think you could’ve really gone wrong with any of the three, and the finishing sequence looked great and protected all three guys. While I disagree with the creation of another title for AEW, my hope is that they can reign things in and get focused on their own roster to make these mid-card titles count.)
-Tony Schiavone joined the announcers desk for the next match. Shingo Takagi entered, followed by Darby Allin. Sting was announced, and his music played, but he didn’t enter. The Young Bucks’ music interrupted played, and they entered with El Phantasmo and Hikuleo. The lights cut out and the camera focused on the rafters. Sting wasn’t there, but, instead, was atop the entrance area. He dove onto the Bucks, Phantasmo, and Hikuleo. Darby Allin rushed up the ramp and hit Hikuleo with his skateboard.
(4) STING & DARBY ALLIN & SHINGO TAKAGI vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS (Nick & Matt Jackson) & EL PHANTASMO (w/ Hikuleo) – Trios match
Sting began things with El Phantasmo. He and Shingo shared a quick double team and fist bump. Phantasmo recovered quickly and tagged in Matt Jackson. Shingo reached Darby Allin. Nick tagged in Matt Jackson, who continued the beat down on Allin. Nick dragged Allin to the corner and tagged El Phantasmo. Phantasmo dumped Sting and Takagi off the apron while Nick held Allin prone in the corner. Phantasmo and the Bucks took turns holding Allin while performing flips, taunts, and minimal offense. The crowd ate it up.
Allin wound up in a tree of woe position. Phantasmo and the Bucks hit triple dropkicks on Darby from all sides. Phantasmo pounded his chest, mocking Sting. Hikuleo returned and pulled Sting off the apron. In the ring, Darby Allin hit Phantasmo with Code Red. Allin tagged in Shingo Takagi at the 6:20 mark. Takagi punched Nick Jackson in the corner. He gave both Bucks running corner clotheslines. Shingo ducked a clothesline attempt from Nick, causing brother to hit brother. Takagi gave Nick a twisting snap Suplex and covered him for a two count. Sting returned to the apron. Takagi gave Nick a pop-up Death Valley Driver. He tagged in Sting.
Sting dropped the Bucks repeatedly. Phantasmo attacked Sting from behind. Sting shrugged him off. Phantasmo twisted Sting’s nipples. Sting shoved him away. He tossed the Bucks to the corner and hit the Stinger Splash on both of them. Sting set up for the Scorpion Death Lock, but Hikuleo jumped on the apron. Sting hit an over the shoulder stunner on both Young Bucks. The Bucks stumbled back, then hit Allin with tandem Superkicks. They hit the kicks on Sting, but Sting shrugged them off. Sting tagged in Allin. Darby went for the Coffin Drop on Matt, but Jackson got his knees up. The Bucks hit Bang for Your Buck on Allin. Phantasmo followed up with a moonsault and cover. Takagi broke the fall. The Bucks dove onto Allin and Takagi on the outside. Phantasmo followed. Sting looked poised to dive as well, but the heels rolled in the ring and gave him a triple Superkick.
The Bucks taunted Sting. Sting fought them off and hit double Scorpion Death Drops. He grabbed Phantasmo by the nipples, then gave him a low blow behind the referee’s back. Darby Allin gave Hikuleo a Coffin Drop to the outside. Shingo Takagi hit Phantasmo with rapid forearms in the ring. He followed up with Last of the Dragon for a three count.
WINNERS: Sting & Darby Allin & Shingo Takagi in 13:03
(LeClair’s Analysis: This crowd seemed to enjoy this, but it just wasn’t my thing. I prefer the more serious side of the Young Bucks, and El Phantasmo brought out a certain level of silly that just doesn’t work for me. The opening spot with Sting was neat, and he seemed to be enjoying himself. Ultimately, though, this just went a little too long for me and highlighted the type of wrestling I’m least interested in overall. I completely understand why many would have enjoyed it, though. With a show bound to run long, this felt like an obvious cut, or, at the very least, one to trim dramatically.)
-Tony Schiavone rushed backstage to interview Shota Umino. Chris Jericho interrupted. He said Umino earned his respect. Angelo Parker and Matt Menard appeared behind Umino. Jericho blew a fireball in Umino’s face. The announcers were outraged.
-Toni Storm headed to the ring for the night’s first singles bout. Thunder Rosa followed to a big ovation.
(5) THUNDER ROSA (c) vs. TONI STORM – AEW Women’s Championship match
Thunder Rosa and Toni Storm circled the ring. They locked up, jockeying for position. The crowd opened up a dueling chant. Storm and Rosa wrestled each other to the mat and back to their feet. The two women traded arm wrenches. Rosa countered a hip toss into a roll up for a two count. Rosa went for a kick to the head of a seated Storm, but Toni laid out flat to avoid it. She rolled quickly for another stalemate.
The women traded chops. Storm broke things up with a side kick. She gave Rosa a snap Suplex and covered for a one count. She applied a back arch. Rosa worked herself free. Storm tried for another Suplex, but Rosa rolled it into a cover for two. The women traded hard forearms to the chest, sending each other stumbling backward. Rosa challenged Storm to chops. Storm caught her with an elbow to the head instead. Rosa hit Storm with a Stunner. She pounded the mat as Storm retreated to the corner. Rosa hit a running clothesline, then double knees to the chest. Storm fell over the middle rope. Rosa gave her a running dropkick.
Rosa hit a bridging Northern Lights Suplex for a two count as the match hit 5:00. She rolled storm up for another two count, then immediately hit a double stomp. She covered for another two. Rosa tried for a hold, but Storm quickly got to the bottom rope. Toni rolled to to the outside. Rosa followed. Storm tried for a spinning DDT off the apron, but Rosa countered into a Northern Lights suplex on the floor. Rosa and Storm worked back onto the apron. Storm climbed to the top rope, but Rosa scooped up. Toni slid down the champion’s back and hit an apron German Suplex. Toni slid to the floor and hooked Rosa, hitting the tornado DDT she wanted earlier.
Storm rolled Thunder Rosa back into the ring and positioned her in the corner. Storm hit a brutal hip attack, then another spinning DDT off the middle rope. Storm hooked the leg for a near fall. Rosa recovered and hit a Death Valley Driver. She followed up with the Fire Thunder Driver for a near fall. Storm’s head hit the mat hard. Rosa kicked violently at Storm’s arm and shoulder. Storm caught a kick, popped up and gave Rosa a German Suplex. She set up for Storm Zero, but couldn’t lift her. Rosa ripped Storm to the mat by the injured arm. She hit Storm with a Final Reckoning and covered her for a three count.
WINNER: Thunder Rosa to retain the AEW Women’s Championship in 10:20
(LeClair’s Analysis: Solid match that seemed to lose the crowd early and failed to reach full gear. It was a tough transition, coming off of three fast and furious matches. Despite being a more traditional AEW match, this one didn’t have much build and as such, felt a bit like an exhibition, much like the rest of the card. They sold Storm’s arm late, though the finish came so quickly after the move that caused it that the announcers struggled to tell the story in full. The way they worked the match in the beginning made it seem like this one would go longer. The length made it feel a bit disjointed. The finish also came out of nowhere, confusing the crowd and really setting Toni Storm back. I know that AEW has been high on Thunder Rosa, but the monentum behind Toni felt like it could be a big turning point for the AEW Women’s division, and tonight definitely garnished that. It seems like it’s back to the drawing board for the weakest part of AEW’s week-to-week product, despite having plenty of talent to go around.)
-A video package for Will Ospreay and Orange Cassidy aired. Jim Ross joined the announcers desk. Orange Cassidy entered first to a decent reaction, followed by Will Ospreay. Ospreay came to the ring with the RevPro title. Kevin Kelly explained why Ospreay doesn’t have the United States title with him.
(6) WILL OSPREAY (c, w/ Aussie Open) vs. ORANGE CASSIDY – IWGP United States Championship match
Orange Cassidy dropped Will Ospreay quickly. Ospreay hopped to his feet and put his hands in his pockets to mock Cassidy. Orange stuffed his hands, kicked Ospreay and gave him a meager thumb’s up. Ospreay and Cassidy traded quick arm holds. Cassidy gave Ospreay Deja Vu. Ospreay rolled to the outside in frustration. Cassidy taunted Ospreay again. He went to put his hands in his pockets, but Ospreay hit the ring quick and dropped Cassidy over the top rope. He followed with a quick kick. The camera showed Juice Robinson in a sky box with the IWGP United States title.
Will Ospreay tossed Orange Cassidy to the outside. He got a running start around the whole ring, then let Aussie Open toss his flying body into Cassidy against the barricade. Ospreay called for silence from the crowd. He gave Orange a big chop, then whipped him into the corner. Ospreay started doing push-ups. He gave Orange a tilt-a-whirl side slam, then whipped him into the ropes again. Ospreay covered for two. J.R. admonished Ospreay for releasing Cassidy half-way across the ring. He said wrestlers who do that are “lolly gaggers.”
Ospreay applied an abdominal stretch. He stuck his hand in Cassidy’s pocket and pulled out a middle finger. He stuck his tongue out at the crowd. Cassidy managed to counter Ospreay in the corner and hit a diving cross body at 6:15. Ospreay caught Cassidy with a springboard kick off the ropes. He climbed to the top and gave Orange a diving elbow to the back of the head. Ospreay covered for a near fall. The champion patted his challenger on the head and set up for the Hidden Blade. Cassidy collapsed. Ospreay kicked Orange in the head repeatedly, then stepped on his skull. Cassidy clutched Will’s boot and rose to his knees. Ospreay peppered him with kicks again. Cassidy fought to his feet and stuffed his hands in his pockets. Ospreay slapped him in the face, but Cassidy responded with a missile dropkick.
The crowd began to chant “freshly squeezed.” Cassidy began lightly kicking Ospreay’s head,to the crowd’s delight. Ospreay great impatient and went to attack, but Orange kicked him for real this time. He hit Stundog Millionaire and a driver for a near fall. Cassidy leapt to the middle rope, flipped onto Ospreay and hit a spinning DDT. Aussie Open tried to grab Orange’s legs. He flipped onto them, then leapt back in the ring for a diving DDT on the champion. Cassidy hooked the leg for a believable near-fall at 12:00. Ospreay caught Cassidy with a running Spanish Fly out of nowhere. The referee began to count both men down. They fought to the corner by a count of six.
Cassidy climbed to the middle rope. Ospreay kicked him in the head through his legs. Both men climbed to the middle rope again. Ospreay drove his elbow into Cassidy’s neck. Orange shoved Ospreay’s head into the turnbuckle camera. Cassidy laid down on the mat and pounded it, playing possum. Ospreay went for a Moonsault, but Cassidy moved. Ospreay landed on his feet and hit a standing Shooting Star Press. He covered for two. Cassidy caught Ospreay with Beach Break for a close near fall. Orange pulled off his elbow pad and set up for the Orange Punch. He charged, but Ospreay caught him with a Cutter for another near fall. Ospreay went for Hidden Blade, but Cassidy ducked. Ospreay went for Storm Breaker. Cassidy rolled him up for two. Ospreay rolled out, charged, and hit Hidden Blade. He hooked the leg, but Cassidy kicked out. Ospreay looked shocked. He scooped Orange up and hit the Storm Breaker for a three count.
WINNER: Will Ospreay to retain the IWGP United States Championship in 16:43
Ospreay and Aussie Open began beating down Orange Cassidy after the match. Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor ran down to make the save. Ospreay and Aussie Open took care of them, too. Katsuyori Shibata’s music hit and he headed to the ring. Shibata cleared the ring of Aussie Open, then put Ospreay in the Rear-Naked Choke. Aussie Open pulled Ospreay to safety. Shibata sat down in the ring, looking on.
Shibata and Orange Cassidy stared each other down. Cassidy eventually put his sunglasses on Shibata and patted him on the shoulder.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Great match. Cassidy went heavy on the comedy in the beginning, hitting his usual spots with ample participation and selling from Will Ospreay. As the match progressed, though, he got serious, just as he often does. Ospreay was a star, with one brilliant move and counter after another. He’d be a true stand-out addition to a very, very crowded AEW roster. I don’t see how you could have a guy like that and not make him a focal point right out of the gate. This was the best match of the night thus far, and it isn’t all that close. Shibata’s appearance at the end proved to a big bonus for the crowd, too. The post-match stare down and eventual sign of respect between he and Orange Cassidy was a neat little moment.)
-The announcers turned their attention to Bryan Danielson’s choice for an opponent for Zack Sabre Jr. They tossed to a promo package for the match.
Zack Sabre Jr. headed to the ring. J.R. remained on commentary. He and Taz talked about which of the two may be the best technical wrestler in the world. Unfamiliar music hit and the crowd popped big before the TV audience could see. Claudio Castagnoli emerged, wearing Blackpool Combat Club gear. Justin Roberts gave him a big, star announcement. Claudio soaked in the reaction from the crowd. Ross called him a perfect fit for the Blackpool Combat Club.
(7) ZACK SABRE JR. vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI
Claudio Castagnoli charged at Zack Sabre Jr. and hit him with a flying uppercut as soon as the bell rang. Sabre Jr. stumbled toward center. Claudio gave him the Neutralizer and covered him for a very near fall. Sabre Jr. rolled from the ring quickly. A loud “Claudio” chant broke out. Castagnoli headed to the outside and tossed Sabre Jr. into the barricade. He hit another running uppercut, then played to the raucous audience.
Sabre Jr. managed to duck another uppercut attempt, sending Claudio crashing into the barricade. He clutched his arm and wrist, but shook it off and returned to the ring. He hit another uppercut. Sabre Jr. rolled to the apron. Zack grabbed the injured arm and drove it into the ropes. Castagnoli lifted Sabre Jr. over the ropes and gave him a stalling Suplex. Claudio covered for two. Sabre Jr. rolled to the apron again. Claudio went for a boot, but Sabre Jr. grabbed the leg and applied a knee bar in the ropes. The referee broke it up at a count of four. Sabre Jr. pulled the leg under the apron and pulled to the outside. The referee forced another break.
Both men returned to the ring. Sabre Jr. started working over Claudio’s injured arm again. He grabbed an arm lock and used his body-weight to force Claudio to the mat. Sabre Jr. mocked Claudio’s fist taunt. He kicked Castagnoli in the back of the head arrogantly. Castagnoli rose to his feet and gave Zack a stiff uppercut to the chest. Sabre Jr. shook it off and grabbed the arm again. He tripped Claudio to the mat and covered for two at 5:15. Sabre Jr. grabbed a front face lock. He started wrenching the arms and fingers of Castagnoli. Claudio fought out of it with a headscissor.
Zack stood up and twisted Claudio’s knee. He slowed things down, going to work on the arm and shoulder again. Sabre Jr. gave Claudio an uppercut to the jaw. Castagnoli gave him a death stare and hit two backbreakers. Castagnoli shoved Sabre Jr. into the turnbuckle and hit him with an uppercut on the ricochet. Claudio scooped Zack into a torture rack position. Sabre Jr. racked the eyes and slid down the back. Zack wrapped his legs around Claudio’s neck, but Castagnoli dead-lifted him and walked toward the ropes. Sabre. Jr. went over, but took Claudio with him, hold still in tact. Claudio dead-lifted Sabre Jr. a second time on the outside then walked up the steps holding Sabre Jr. with one arm. He Powerbombed him into the ring. Claudio shook out the injured arm.
Castagnoli set up Sabre Jr. for the Swing. Zack set up and applied a Guillotine instead. Claudio swung him outward and dropped him on the top rope. Claudio climbed to the top rope, but Sabre Jr. locked him up. The referee broke the hold again. Sabre Jr. slapped the back of Claudio’s head and shoved him to the floor. Castagnoli charged back at the corner and caught Zack with an uppercut. He gave Sabre Jr. a Gutwrench slam off the middle rope at 11:05.
Claudio hit another uppercut. He called for the Swing again. The crowd rose to their feet. Sabre Jr. scrambled to the ropes. Claudio let him stand, then hit him with a pair of quick running uppercuts. Sabre Jr. countered a third and hit one of his own. Claudio no-sold it, popped out of the corner and dropped Sabre Jr. Claudio covered for two. He called for the Swing a third time. He took Zack down by the legs and initiated the swing. He only got six rotations before dropping him and grabbing at his injured arm. Claudio went to start again, but Sabre Jr. kicked him away. Claudio went for the Sharpshooter instead. Sabre Jr. countered into a heel hook. Claudio used his foot to try to create separation, but Sabre Jr. caught it and tucked in behind his back. Claudio used his strength to turn the hold over and apply the Sharpshooter. Sabre Jr. broke the hold, so Castagnoli gave him double stomps to the chest.
The two men rose to their feet slowly. Claudio tried to lift Zack, but he shoved his arm away. They traded uppercuts. Claudio seemed unimpressed. He knocked Sabre Jr. to the apron, then pulled him back in an dropped him. Sabre Jr. kicked Claudio’s injured arm. Castagnoli popped Sabre Jr. up, but Zack climbed the shoulders and grabbed the arm. He wrestled Claudio to the mat, but Castagnoli quickly reached the ropes. The official had to forcibly break the hold.
Sabre Jr kicked Claudio in the chest as the match crossed 17:00. Claudio asked for more. Sabre Jr. delivered kick after kick. Claudio caught one and dropped Zack with a lariat for a two count. Sabre Jr. caught a European Clutch for a two count. Claudio popped up and hit a lifting uppercut, followed by a Powerbomb for a three count.
WINNER: Claudio Castagnoli in 18:29
(LeClair’s Analysis: Excellent technical match. Completely different style than anything else we’ve seen tonight, and it worked incredibly well. The crowd was wholly invested in Claudio Castagnoli, and excited to see Zack Sabre Jr. Castagnoli’s other-worldly strength was on full display. The dead-lift, single-arm carry on the outside of the ring all the way back inside was unbelievable. I loved the story they told throughout with Claudio overcoming the early arm injury off the failed uppercut on the outside. Sabre Jr., for his part, was perfectly nasty, challenging the referee at every turn and refusing to break holds- virtually daring the official to disqualify him. Great stuff. Castagnoli should prove to be an excellent addition to the roster, though, like with any AEW talent acquisition these days, I wonder how he’ll fit into an already jam-packed roster already struggling for consistent TV time.)
-The announcers tossed to a video package for the IWGP World Heavyweight title match.
Adam Cole entered first to a strong ovation. Hangman followed with fireworks as he marched to the ring. He led the crowd in a “Cowboy Shit” chant. Kevin Kelly talked about Page’s history in NJPW. J.R. talked up his recent record in AEW. Kazuchika Okada entered to a big ovation from the Chicago crowd. The announcers let the moment hang for a bit before Excalibur called him a “once in a lifetime” pro wrestler. Jay White headed to the ring, flanked by Gedo. Kevin Kelly mentioned that White is 4-1 over Okada, all-time. The announcers discussed the peril the champion faces in a 4-way match. Justin Roberts provided traditional championship match introductions.
(8) “SWITCHBLADE” JAY WHITE (c, w/ Gedo) vs. ADAM COLE vs. “HANGMAN” ADAM PAGE vs. KAZUCHIKA OKADA – 4-way match for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
Kevin Kelly talked about how rare it is to have an IWGP singles title defended in a multi-man match. Kazuchika Okada and Jay White challenged the fans to stand and get loud. They obliged. Jay White left the ring just as the action was about to begin. Adam Cole followed suit. Okada turned his attention to Hangman Page. The shared a quick handshake, then prepared to lock up. Adam Cole ripped Hangman to the outside. Jay White attacked Okada from behind.
White hit the ropes, but ate a big boot from Okada on the return. Okada teamed with Hangman to deliver double elbows to Jay White. Adam Cole pulled Jay White from the ring and convinced him to work together. Page and Okada rolled to the outside to break up their dialogue. Page and Cole hit the ring first. Hangman tossed Cole to the outside and dove onto him through the middle rope. On the opposite side of the ring, White gave Okada a front Suplex onto the apron. Up on the rampway, Hangman set up Adam Cole in Piledriver position. White rushed in to make the save. Cole and White gave Hangman a delayed vertical suplex onto the video ramp.
Adam Cole called for Jay White to toss Okada back in the ring. Cole gave Kazuchika a neckbreaker, then fed him to White for a big chop. On the outside, Hangman Page rolled back toward the ring. White and Cole continued to beat down Okada as the match crossed 5:00. White rolled outside and tried to whip Page into the steps, but Hangman reversed him. Okada began to mount a comeback on Cole, but Switchblade returned to cut it off. Page returned to the ring and kicked Cole in the face. He hit a springboard clothesline to Jay White, sending him to the floor. Page gave Cole a diving clothesline off the top rope and covered for a two count.
Cole retreated to the corner. Hangman gave him a series of stiff chops, walking him to each turnbuckle for a fresh look. Jay White slid in the ring but ate a back elbow from Page. Hangman leapt to the top rope and went for a moonsault, but Adam Cole kicked him in the face in mid-air. Okada returned, chest crimson red. He fired punches at both White and Cole. He gave Cole a back elbow, then pancaked White. Cole leapt to the middle rope and Okada dropkicked him to the outside.
Okada left the ring to meet his three opponents. He called for fans in the corner to move. He tossed Jay White into the crowd, then sent Cole over to meet him. Okada got a running start and launched himself over the barricade onto a waiting Cole and White. They toppled over ringside chairs. Okada soaked in the adoration from ringside before returning to the ring. Jay White and Adam Cole weren’t far behind. Adam Page rejoined the fray. He worked White into the corner and gave him a litany of chops. White countered out of the corner with a Complete Shot. He went for a German Suplex, but Hangman flipped through it. Cole returned with a kick to Hangman’s face.
The match ticked past 11:30. Cole and White shared “2 Sweet.” Adam Cole gave White a Backstabber and covered him for a near fall. Cole set up for the Boom, but White ducked it. The champion delivered a hard chop to the chest, followed by a Sleeper Suplex. Okada returned and ate a big lariat from Page. All four men were down in the ring. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. The heels and babyfaces paired off on opposing sides of the ring. White and Cole raked Page and Okada’s eyes. White ended the pairing, chopping Cole. Okada whipped Cole to the corner, but got dropped with a kick to the side of the head from Page.
Hangman delivered a sit-out Powerbomb on White for a cover and near fall. He set up for the Buckshot Lariat, but Cole grabbed his foot. Hangman climbed the ropes instead and took both Cole and Okada out with a moonsault. He returned to the apron. Gedo grabbed his foot. Hangman kicked him away. Page flipped into the ring for the Buckshot, but White blocked it. He set up for Blade Runner, but Page blocked it and pulled him into Deadeye. Page returned to the apron and called for White to stand. Hangman hit the Buckshot Lariat and hooked the leg, but Okada saved the pin at 16:40.
Kazuchika Okada rose to meed Hangman Page in the center of the ring. The two men traded forearms. Okada went for a Tombstone, but Page rolled free. Page held the ropes to avoid a dropkick from Okada. Adam Cole returned and tossed Page to the outside. He set Okada up for Panama Sunrise, but Okada countered it into the Air-Raid Crash. Okada climbed to the top rope and hit a massive elbow. He called to the crowd and threw his arms wide. He set up for the Rainmaker, but Cole blocked it. Hangman appeared and attempted the Buckshot, but Okada blocked that. Cole kicked Okada in the face and covered him for a near fall.
Cole shot Okada off the ropes, but Kazuchika caught him with a big dropkick. Cole shot to his feet and connected with another Superkick. Page leapt back on the apron and ate a Superkick, too. Okada dropped Cole with another dropkick. He set up for the Rainmaker, but Cole collapsed. White rushed in and hit Okada with the Rainmaker. Okada rolled out of the ring. White covered Adam Cole for a three count.
WINNER: Jay White to retain the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in 21:01
Doctors headed into the ring to check on Adam Cole. The rest of the Undisputed Elite came to the ring, staring down Jay White on their way. The announcers covered the situation, saying White must have noticed Cole was injured, making it easy for him to get the pin. Cole made his way to the back under his own power, a good sign.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match marred by a really awkward finish. Adam Cole looks to have been really shaken up, leading to a very anti-climactic end, as noted by J.R. It seems likely he was meant to take Okada’s Rainmaker, allowing White to come in and eliminate Okada, then steal the pin on Cole. Instead, Cole ate the fall after taking no real damage. While I’d certainly prefer good one-on-one title match to a multi-man match any day, this was hard hitting and fun from the opening bell. All four guys being tremendously over with the crowd certainly helped make it feel like a big deal. I liked the dynamic of Cole and White thinking they could use their friendship to eliminate Okada and Page one by one, only to find that the babyfaces weren’t at all opposed to teaming up temporarily to even the odds. Unfortunately, Cole became the designated fall guy here. Injury and botched finish aside, he’d still have been the one taking the pin, even under more believable circumstances. I think Cole has been a little mis-handled during his AEW run to date, and he seems to be one of the very few main event level guys that Tony is comfortable beating on a semi-consistent basis. Given how important I think he is to the roster, and the show as a whole, I’d like to see that change going forward. )
-The announcers tossed to a video package promoting the main event. Jon Moxley received an extended entrance, with the camera following him from a hallway backstage, William Regal at his side. Moxley came through the Chicago Bulls tunnel. He took a big swig of water and looked around at the sold out arena. Moxley walked a straight line through the ringside area and stood on a chair to get a good look at the lower bowl. He entered the ring from the barricade and paced around excitedly.
Hiroshi Tanahashi entered to a strong reaction. Kevin Kelly said he’s overqualified for the match. Excalibur talked up his accomplishments in NJPW. Justin Roberts provided championship match introductions.
(9) JON MOXLEY vs. HIROSHI TANAHASHI – Interim AEW World Championship match
The crowd gave a smattering of respectful applause to open the match. Jon Moxley and Hiroshi Tanahashi locked up and traded waist locks. The United Center opened up a strong dueling chant. Moxley backed Tanahashi into the ropes and heeded the referee’s warning the break the hold. He cocked his fist, but stepped back, allowing Tanahashi to regroup. Hiroshi grabbed a side headlock and worked Moxley down to one knee. Jon battled free with forearms to the ribs. Tanahashi leapt to the middle rope and hit a cross body. He played some air guitar. Moxley took major offense, getting in Tanahashi’s face and challenging him to a duel of forearms.
Tanahashi rocked Moxley with a big shot to the head. Mox shook it out, but ate a dropkick to the knee. Tanahashi followed up with a Dragon Screw. Moxley grabbed at his knee, begging off. Tanahashi wouldn’t relent, dropping his weight into the bend of the knee and applying pressure. Mox slid himself to the ropes, forcing a break. He dragged himself to his feet and caught Hiroshi with a cutter. The two men began trading forearms and chops.
Mox whipped Tanahashi to the corner and caught him with a clothesline. He hoisted Hiroshi to the top rope and raked his back. Mox hit a snap Suplex off the top rope, then followed up with a Piledriver. Moxley covered for a two count, but Taz correctly pointed out that Tanahashi’s foot was under the rope the whole time. The crowd’s attention moved to something off camera to the right of the ring. Moxley grabbed a hold, then held Tanahashi’s arms and stomped him, in homage to Bryan Danielson. He transitioned into a Texas Cloverleaf. Hiroshit pulled himself toward the ropes. Mox broke the Cloverleaf and transitioned into an S.T.F. Hiroshi reached the ropes anyway.
Both men hit quick rights and lefts as the match crossed 7:30. Tanahashi gave Moxley a body slam then climbed to the middle rope. He hit a Somersault Senton and covered for a two count. He called for a Slingblade, but Mox tossed him to the apron. Tanahashi skiined the cat. Mox telegraphed it and clothesline him to the floor. Mox cleared the timekeeper’s area and gave Tanahashi a Uranagi through the table. Moxley rolled into the ring as the referee began to count Tanahashi out.
The referee reached a count of nine before Hiroshi Tanahashi returned to the ring. Mox called himself the “ace.” He kicked Tanahashi in the chest repeatedly. Tanahashi welcomed it. He blocked a kick and went for a Dragon Screw, but Moxley planted his foot and dropped into an Arm Bar. Tanahashi rolled into a pin, but Mox’s shoulders stayed off the mat. Hiroshi held Mox’s wrists and stomped his chest. He connected with a Slingblade. Moxley rolled to the outside and came up bleeding from the forehead. Tanahashi climbed to the top rope and dove onto Mox on the floor.
Blood pooled on the forehead of Jon Moxley, dripping all over the ringside mat. Tanahashi forced him back in the ring. Mox applied pressure to his forehead, trying to stop the bleeding. He kicked Tanahashi in the gut and went for the Paradigm Shift, but Tanahashi dropped to his knees. Tanahashi hit a release German Suplex. Mos rolled to his feet and hit the Paradigm Shift. He covered for a believable near fall. Mox immediately went in for stiff elbows to the shoulder blades. Tanahashi shook them off and kneed Mox in the face. Moxley had a full crimson mask by this point. Tanahashi climbed the turnbuckle and hit a cross body. He climbed the the ropes again and hit a massive splash. The momentum bounced his body off Moxley. Tanahashi rolled into a cover. He scored two, but Moxley rolled him over into a side headlock.
Tanahashi slowly worked his way back to vertical base. He flipped Moxley into a Jackknife cover for a two count. Moxley hit a short-arm clothesline, but Tanahashi wouldn’t go down. Hiroshi hit the ropes and Moxley dropped him with a massive lariat. He covered, but Tanahashi kicked out at one. Moxley hammered the neck and shoulder with elbows again as the match crossed 17:00. Moxley grabbed the rear naked choke. The crowd roared to life with a “go Ace” chant. Tanahashi fought to his feet again. Moxley transitioned into another Paradigm Shift for a cover and three count.
WINNER: Jon Moxley to win the Interim AEW World Championship in 18:17
The bloodied Jon Moxley held up the Interim AEW World title. Excalibur mentioned that a collision with CM Punk looms sometime in the future. Taz wondering what Punk must be thinking. Moxley took a seat in the corner, clearing his eyes of blood. J.R. talked up Blood & Guts.
Moxley pointed to Tanahashi in the opposing corner. The two men met in the center of the ring. Moxley pulled him close, and the two shook hands. Chris Jericho and Daniel Garcia rushed to the ring and attacked both Moxley and Tanahashi. Eddie Kingston arrived. He took Garcia down, but was quickly overwhelmed by Jericho. Wheeler Yuta, Santana, and Ortiz joined the fray. Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Angelo Parker, and Matt Menard hit the ring. Claudio Castagnoli’s music hit and he made a break for Chris Jericho, dropping him with a pop-up uppercut.
Castagnoli helped clear the ring. He dragged Angelo Parker into the Swing. Excalibur joked that they may not have enough Pay-Per-View time for it. He completed 20 rotations. Parker fell into the waiting arms of the Jericho Appreciation Society. The babyfaces regrouped in the ring as the announcers continued to talk up Blood and Guts. Eddie Kingston jawed at Claudio Castagnoli. He argued with Jon Moxley. Moxley gave a smile and a shrug. J.R. bid the audience goodnight and the show went off the air with Moxley’s music playing.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really, really good match. I couldn’t quite get a read on the excitement level of the crowd in the early going. They popped for Jon Moxley and were certainly brought to life by his crowd entrance, but they seemed a bit subdued for Hiroshi Tanahashi. It could’ve been fatigue, or just a general notion of disappointment with how significantly this main event had to be altered given CM Punk’s injury. Mox and Tanahashi brought it, though, and the crowd ate up the violence, especially once Moxley was cut open. It looked nasty, but it’s the kind of cut that has worked time and time again for the Blackpool Combat Club guys. While I generally think AEW overdoes it with the blood, they saved it for Moxley and Moxley only tonight. That amped up its intensity, and raised the stakes of the minute-to-minute action. Moxley very much worked the match as the heel, and the crowd responded in kind, getting firmly behind Tanahashi in the late stages. I thought the finish was perfect. Moxley had to choke the life out of Tanahashi and deliver a emphasized version of his finisher to put the legend away. Great main event despite the bad luck and booking pitfalls that got us here.
The post-match attack felt a bit unnecessary. I know they wanted to promote Blood and Guts, but the Chicago crowd seemed disinterested in watching what amounted to promo for weekly TV. They bought Pay-Per-View tickets, and typically, you like to see the night end on a definitive note. Even Claudio Castagnoli, who received a massive babyface reaction when he debuted early in the night, mustered very little energy until he engaged with Jericho in the ring. I just think, by this point in the night, they’d seen too much and had already been exposed to virtually everyone out there. It just felt like a the prolonging of an already long night.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: I, and many others have contended for weeks that the build for Forbidden Door has left plenty to be desired. Unfortunate injuries aside, the cross-promotion made the already bloated roster feel more chaotic and scattershot. Attention to detail has taken a backseat, and too many wrestlers were brought into the mix with minimal to no introduction. It made tonight’s show a hard sell for anything other than good wrestling, and I think you can get that just about anywhere these days for a lot less money. Make no mistake – this was an wholly enjoyable show, with no bad matches, some very good ones, and a couple that crossed the threshold into excellent. It was, just as predicted, and incredibly fun wrestling event, but one that felt rather inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Like WWE’s current iteration of Survivor Series, in a way, you spend a month’s worth of TV hyping matches that aren’t likely to have an impact on your product going forward. There’s no question this show was a gate success, and I’d wager you’d be hard pressed to find people who watched and couldn’t speak at least some positive words about it, but I think the buy rate will determine the show’s viability going forward. This was a gamble, and sagging TV ratings may be indicative of a weaker performance than the two companies would like. If they are to do a sequel, I think some consideration should be a given to lowering the price point. $50 is a lot to ask in this climate, especially given the eight year conditioning fans have had to a $9.99 or less price point with WWE Network. I can stomach the price tag for a major, once-a-quarter traditional AEW Pay-Per-View, but an exhibition style company vs. company specialty event should come with a bit of a discount.
I got plenty of enjoyment out of the show, but I’d really like to see a more tailored, focused and tight version of AEW television beginning with this week’s Blood and Guts as we begin the road to All Out.