SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
I don’t know about you guys, but I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get to Forbidden Door season in AEW land. The show itself last year proved to be entertaining and a good piece of business for AEW, but it really jacked the weekly AEW product around and in a way that I still don’t believe they’ve fully recovered from.
So, the prospects of seeing it all happen again this year was less than ideal. That said, Tony Khan and company made a pivot in the presentation this year and it’s made for better weekly television and a better PPV overall.
AEW was snake-bit with injuries last year ahead of this event and this year they’ve got their star power back. TK being able to book huge matches like Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay AND Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson on the same show helps to mask other convoluted matches on the show. When powerhouses like those are around, they can and have carried the responsibility of holding interest in the event. Add into that MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi and a Sanada vs. Jungle Boy match and you have what the show should have been all along – the best of New Japan colliding with the best of AEW.
Call this a preview, a calm look into the distant future, or a gaze into a wondrous crystal ball; just don’t hold me to anything, ok?
Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay – IWGP United States Championship
The best part of this match outside of what will surely be an incredible in-ring spectacle is that the winner is clear cut one way or the other. You can make an argument that Ospreay takes it here with the help of Don Callis, but I’ll go out on a limb and say Omega wins. Ospreay needs to get the victory over Kenny Omega on the New Japan stage and a third match between to the two is almost a certainty for Wrestle Kingdom in January. I’ll say Ospreay gets it there, which means he isn’t getting the W here.
Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightengale – AEW Women’s World Championship
A bit of a forgotten match on the show, but one that could be very good. There is no story to speak of between Nightengale and Storm, so this is just a match and one that Storm wins.
Sanada vs. Jungle Boy – IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
Will he or won’t he? That’s the question regarding Jungle Boy. Does the heel turn happen here or does it not? I don’t think we’ll see him officially turn on this stage, but this will be the catalyst. If I’m Hook, I’m keeping my head on a swivel Wednesday night on Dynamite during their match.
Jon Moxley & Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta & Shota Umino & Konosuke Takeshita vs. The Young Bucks & Adam Page & Eddie Kingston & Tomohiro Ishii
This will be pandemonium. Madness. Just pure madness and that’s about all there is to say about that. It makes the most sense for team Moxley to win this given the young talent on that team trying to get over. Takeshita in particular. If a major match with Kenny Omega is on the docket, he needs wins like this one and he and his team will get it.
Sting & Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki
I’m excited for this one. For some reason, Naito and Guevara crossing paths is intriguing as is simply seeing Naito in a ring with AEW talent. The babyfaces get this victory. Naito, Darby, and Sting standing tall together is more important than protecting team Jericho. Plus, a loss further drives a wedge between Guevara and Jericho in the JAS.
Adam Cole vs. Tom Lawlor
Well, no story to speak of, but this should be an excellent match. If you don’t know Tom Lawlor, you will after this one, but that doesn’t change the inevitable Cole win. With a title match against MJF on the horizon, there is no way he talks a loss in this one.
CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima – Owen Hart Cup Tournament First Round Match
I’d bet the house that Punk wins this one. Will be fun to see Punk against a legendary Japanese star in Kojima.
MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi – AEW World Championship
Ahhh, this has the makings of an MJF classic. Tanahashi is such a legendary babyface and MJF’s heel schtick will mesh with him almost perfectly. MJF has been dismissive of New Japan for years, so a match with the face of that company plays well. Tanahashi can’t physically have an in-ring classic anymore, but he’s almost better with psychology. MJF can work that style too. MJF wins here because, well, of course he will, but I think people will be talking about this when it’s all said and done.
Orange Cassidy vs. Daniel Garcia vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata – AEW International Championship
AEW has been telling a story around Orange Cassidy and his AEW International Championship matches. This will be a good addition to that story for him. ZSJ and Shibata on a list of opponents he’s beaten enhance his reign and pads the narrative for the person that ends up beating him. It’s pretty much a one man show from an outcome perspective as neither of the other three men are viable winners of the championship due to either their commitments to New Japan – Shibata and ZSJ – or a lack of connection to the Cassidy storyline – Garcia. Cassidy to retain.
Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
A dream match in every sense of the phrase. A true dream match. The odds that this match would happen just five years ago were almost nothing, so the fact that it’s happening on this show is a major deal. I’m expecting a classic. Okada and Danielson are too good to deliver anything but. I’m not breaking news here, but my gut tells me Danielson wants to the do the job to Okada and he will. Okada wins with The Rainmaker.