PPV PRIMER – FORBIDDEN DOOR 2023: Preview and predictions for Okada vs. Danielson, Ospreay vs. Omega, more


Forbidden Door preview


On June 25, 2023, in the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, we step thought the “forbidden door” once again as All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling put on their second joint show, AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door. Since there are a lot of moving parts for half of the matches for this event, I’m breaking my format a bit and presenting the big picture.

Big Picture: Kenny Omega returned to New Japan Pro-Wrestling for the first time since he left to challenge the IWGP United States Champion, Will Ospreay, for the title. Omega claimed that he had hoped that Ospreay would have been the one to step up and fill Omega’s “spot” once Omega left, but Omega was unimpressed with Ospreay’s performance since. At NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 17, Omega captured the title from Ospreay.

Back home, “Hangman” Adam Page and Jon Moxley were feuding. Eventually the Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson, Moxley, ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli, and Wheeler Yuta) and the Elite (IWGP US Champion Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson) were drawn into conflict. This led to Page rejoining the Elite. Around the same time, Don Callis, Kenny Omega’s manager, had been scouting AEW rising prospect, Konosuke Takeshita. Callis convinced Takeshita to help the Elite even the odds. As the conflict escalated, Callis was injured when the BCC attacked Page backstage. Callis turned on Omega blaming Omega for his injury. Takeshita followed Callis.

While all of this is going on, New Japan began a tournament of former US champions to determine the next challenger for Omega’s IWGP United States Championship. Lance Archer was to face Juice Robinson but instead faced Fred Rosser (fka Darren Young) when Juice Robinson was suspended for assaulting Rosser at a previous event. Archer defeated Rosser. Will Ospreay defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to set up Archer versus Ospreay in the finals. Ospreay defeated Archer at NJPW’s Dominion setting up Omega vs. Ospreay at Forbidden Door. At that same Dominion event, Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, and Shota “Shooter” Umino teamed up to face Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Tomohiro Ishii for the NEVER Openweight Six-man Tag Team Championship. (Shota was Moxley’s protégée, more on that relationship later). While the BCC were unsuccessful, they presented Okada with a video challenge from Bryan Danielson for a dream one-on-one match. Okada accepted the match for Forbidden Door.

Also meanwhile… Eddie Kingston had become frustrated with AEW and quit the promotion. He found himself in ROH where he came face to face with his long-time rival, ROH World Champion, Claudio Castagnoli.

As Forbidden Door approached, Moxley declared that he, Claudio, and Yuta, would team up with Takeshita and Shota to face the Elite’s Page, and the Young Bucks and two partners of their choice. Eddie Kingston, spurred on by his hatred of Claudio returned to AEW, set aside his distaste for the Elite, and agreed to partner up with them under the condition that Kingston would pick the fifth member. Kingston picked “The Stone Pitbull” Tomohiro Ishii.

Now to unravel.

Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

I believe the term “dream match” is thrown around too recklessly all too often. That said, this is a true Dream Match. Two wrestlers who have been widely considered to be the best in the world at various points in their careers meet while they still have gas in their tank.

New to New Japan? – Kazuchika Okada has been “The Guy” in New Japan and considered by many to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. His matches with Kenny Omega were so legendary that they broke pundits’ rating systems.

Prediction: Okada, who has been known to hold back in matches to save the best stuff for when it counts, seems to be really excited for this one, so I expect him to bring it. I imagine Danielson is just as excited so this should be incredible. I temper with “should be” since it’s been reported that Danielson has been dealing with some lingering injury issues. Still, easily match of the year contender. Okada is protected by New Japan and the only way I see him losing is if New Japan is planning for Danielson to challenge for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship sometime between now and next year’s Wrestle Kingdom.

Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay – IWGP United States Championship Match

Will Ospreay is looking for revenge against Kenny Omega who he feels disrespected by. On the lead up to Forbidden Door, Don Callis approached Ospreay warning Ospreay that Omega had turned Canada against Ospreay so much that Ospreay might be in danger. Callis would then offer him protection.

New to New Japan? – Will Ospreay is the leader of the United Empire faction in New Japan. He’s held the IWGP World Heavyweight championship and is on the short list of the best wrestler in the world right now.

Prediction: Hard to call. With Callis’s involvement I can see Ospreay winning the title back, maybe leading to a rubber match in the UK at All In.

Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta & Konosuke Takeshita & Shota Umino vs. Adam Page & Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson & Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii

This is just another chapter in the feud between the Elite and the BCC. Eddie Kingston is close friends with Jon Moxley but is willing to go through his friend for a shot at Claudio.

New to New Japan? – When Jon Moxley participated in New Japan’s G1 tournament a few years ago, he essentially kidnapped a Young Lion from ringside to serve as his second during his visit. Young Lions are trainees who are responsible for setting up the ring, serving as ringside security, serving as assistants to veteran wrestlers, etc. They get ring time experience in opening matches and are paired with veteran wrestlers in tag team exhibition matches. Moxley, needing a partner and not wanting the choice made for him, Chose Shota Umino, dubbing him “Shooter” and giving him his own Jacket. Since then, Shota went on excursion (Young Lions go to another territory to learn more about the business and craft their future wrestling persona) and upon his return had adopted a new look and enters through the crowd ala Moxley. He even carries the jacket Moxley gave him. As far as Tomohiro Ishii is concerned, all you need to know is that his nickname is “Stone Pitbull”.

Prediction: The Elite have been on the losing end of a lot of their encounters with the BCC so are they due to finally win one?

MJF (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – AEW World Championship Match

Hiroshi Tanahashi challenged MJF for the AEW World Championship for Forbidden Door. MJF disrespected the legend and turned down the match. Adam Cole, who MJF is feuding with, played on MJF’s ego, accusing him of cowardice. Angrily, MJF accepted the match.

New to New Japan? – Before Okada took the mantle of top guy, it was Hiroshi Tanahashi who led New Japan. This earned him the moniker of the Ace of New Japan. Now he’s in the waning phase of his career but is still a dangerous opponent when he can get everything together.

Prediction: MJF is obviously winning this, likely with shenanigans.

Sanada (c) vs. Jack Perry – IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

Sanada said in an interview that he did not know who Jack Perry was and I don’t blame him. Jack Perry is not the most inspired choice to face the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. Jack asked Hook to be at ringside for him since he considers Hook to be his best friend (though he was very creepy about it). Hook agreed.

New to New Japan? – Suzuki-gun, Minoru Suzuki’s faction, disbanded at the end of last year. Four former members, Taka Michinoku, Taichi, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and Douki teamed up saying that they would bring change to the landscape of NJPW despite (at the time) not having any titles, nor having any achievements to claim for themselves. They were just Four Guys. Meanwhile, Sanada, member of Los Ingobornables de Japon, was having difficulties getting things together, struggling to win high profile matches. Sanada faced Taichi in the opening match of the New Japan Cup tournament (winner got a shot at the champion). The two have a rivalry based more on respect than animosity. During their match Taichi grew disgusted with Sanada’s lack of “fighting spirit” (will to fight) and kept pushing Sanada, trying to get Sanada to snap out of his doldrum. Taichi succeeded and a rejuvenated Sanada would go on to defeat Taichi and win the tournament. After defeating the leader of LIJ, Tetsuya Naito, Sanada left the group and joined Taichi in Just Four… now Just Five Guys. Sanada finally beat Okada at NJPW’s Sakura Genesis to win the championship fulfilling Just Five Guy’s promise from earlier in the year.

Prediction: Two things are not in doubt. Sanada wins and Jack Perry turns heel. Whether the heel turn happens here or not is the only question.

Orange Cassidy (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia – AEW International Championship Four-Way Match

Orange Cassidy has been taking on all challengers for his AEW International Championship at a pace that is slowly killing him. His most recent challenger was Zack Sabre Jr. who challenged him for Forbidden Door. Daniel Garcia was upset at Sabre jumping the line and a tired Cassidy set a tag match against the two, choosing Katsuyori Shibata as his partner. During the match Cassidy accidentally hit Shibata, who got pinned. The match for Forbidden Door a four-way.

New to New Japan? – Kasuyori Shibata suffered a catastrophic injury that led to his early retirement. He was placed in charge of training new wrestlers for New Japan’s American expansion. Since then, he’s slowly been working his way back into wrestling, succeeding in capturing the ROH Pure Championship. Zack Sabre Jr. was a former member of Suzuki-gun. He replaced Jonah (Bronson Reed) as the leader of TMDK (The Mighty Don’t Kneel) when Jonah left for the WWE. He’s the current IWGP Television Champion, a technical wizard, and one of my personal favorite wrestlers.

Prediction: They’ve put so much into the story of Cassidy getting worn out that he needs to lose the title in a one-on-one match, so Cassidy retains.

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

Darby Allin has been trying to turn Sammy Guevara away from the dark side (though Darby wouldn’t present it that way). This led to conflict between Chris Jericho and Darby, leading to Sting getting in Jericho’s face for a faceoff between the two for the first time ever. There is friction between Jericho and Sammy as Jericho is trying to remind Sammy what the pecking order is. Jericho challenged Darby and Sting to a six-man tag with Minoru Suzuki on Jericho and Sammy’s side. Sting and Darby accepted teasing that their partner is someone who has unfinished business with Jericho.

New to New Japan? – All you really need to know about Minoru Suzuki is that his fans in the US have nicknamed him “Murder Grandpa” and his former faction Suzuki-gun means Suzuki’s Army. This alliance is a bit strange considering that Suzuki is now basically a face in New Japan, but they can get away with it since he’s the Murder Grandpa.

Prediction: Team Sting wins this. With the fracture between Sammy and Jericho, and Suzuki not really fitting that group, a win by Team Sting furthers the Sammy and Jericho drama and an angry Jericho can trigger Suzuki to murder Jericho. As far as Team Sting’s likely third member, my money is on Tetsuya Naito. Naito was one of Jericho’s opponents when Jericho went to Japan. Far second is Shingo Takagi who teamed up with Sting and Darby before.

CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima – Men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament Match (R1)

Due to Kenta and CM Punk not willing to work together Punk faces Satoshi Kojima in the first round of the Men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament.

New to New Japan? – Satoshi Kojima is a long-time veteran who can still deliver a fairly entertaining match. Great Twitter follow. He’s a big fan of bread.

Prediction: Punk wins this.

Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale – AEW Women’s World Championship Match

Toni Storm successfully defended her AEW Women’s World Championship against Skye Blue and, along with Ruby Soho proceeded to attack Skye. Willow Nightingale came out to make the save leading to this match.

New to New Japan? – Unfortunately, no Stardom (the women’s promotion in Japan owned by NJPW’s parent company Bushi Road) Wrestlers were available for this event since Stardom has their own show. Willow is the first NJPW Strong Women’s Champion.

Prediction: Storm wins.

Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor

As payback for being played into accepting Hiroshi Tanahashi’s challenge, MJF set a match for Adam Cole against Tom Lawlor for Forbidden Door.

New to New Japan? – MMA veteran Tom Lawlor was the top guy in New Japan Strong, New Japan’s America-based show. Lawlor held the NJPW Strong Openweight Championship for over a year, and he is the leader of Team Filthy.

Prediction: Cole wins.

CATCH-UP: RADICAN’S TAKE – AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door PPV preview series: IWGP World Hvt. Champion Sanada vs. Jungleboy Jack Perry

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