RADICAN’S TAKE – AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door PPV preview series finale: AEW World Champion MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

By Sean Radican, PWTorch Columnist (Twitter: @SR_Torch)


Note: This is the fourth and final installment in a multi-part preview of the AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door PPV that will take place on June 25 in Toronto. The show is available for purchase on Bleacher Report and traditional PPV.

-You can read my preview of Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson here

-You can read my preview of IWGP U.S. Hvt. Champion Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay here

-You can read my preview of IWGP World Hvt. Champion Sanada vs. Jungleboy Jack Perry here


MJF has been disrespectful of NJPW since this program started. He has referred to NJPW as an indie fed and said he wasn’t going to defend his title against anyone from NJPW on the Forbidden Door card leading into a match with Hiroshi Tanahashi being made official for Forbidden Door. 

The build to this match has been entertaining with MJF disrespecting NJPW as a company and also disrespecting their legendary ace Hiroshi Tanahashi. Tanahashi’s videos challenging MJF could have been done better from a production standpoint, as they looked like something you would see on a Ring of Honor DVD in the mid-2000s. Tanahashi’s challenge to MJF was nowhere near as impactful as the well-produced video that was used for Bryan Danielson to challenge Kazuchika Okada on this PPV. 

Tanahashi first challenged MJF for a match at Forbidden Door on the June 14 edition of Dynamite in a video package. MJF reacted to the video package in a backstage interview and he refused the challenge and threatened to no-show Forbidden Door playing off the real life scenario that took place during Double or Nothing weekend in 2022 when it was very much up in the air as to whether or not he would show up for his scheduled match against Wardlow that weekend due to issues he had behind the scenes with AEW owner and booker Tony Khan. 

Tanahashi appeared in another video package on Dynamite on June 21 when MJF was in the ring with Adam Cole, who MJF is currently feuding with. Cole and MJF are also scheduled to be partners in the upcoming Blind Eliminator Tournament. After Tanahashi’s challenge played on the big screen in the arena, Cole was able to goad MJF into accepting Tanahashi’s challenge to make the match official. 

The final build to the MJF-Tanahashi match took place on the June 24 edition of Collision. Tanahashi beat Swerve Strickland in a singles match. The clunky finish to the match probably won’t convince anyone that Tanahashi is going to beat MJF. After the match, MJF showed up on the big screen and cut a really good heel promo saying he’s not going to stay in Canada any longer than he needs to. He said he told Tony Khan that he will only show up for the show if his match opens the show. 

Tanahashi is not the elite performer he once was. His body has broken down due to years of bumping in the ring. Even though NJPW has begun to phase Tanahashi down the card, he’s proven to be a valuable asset to the company when he’s needed for a big singles match or short term title program. 

Tanahashi’s knees are clearly in rough shape from years of wear and tear, but he is still capable of pulling off tremendous matches at this stage of his career. Tanahashi can still strike and he has a vicious ground game when it comes to working over the legs of his opponents with various dragon screws to build up to his cloverleaf submission.

On the other hand, MJF has grown leaps and bounds as an in-ring performer. He just keeps getting better and better in the ring and is at the point where he’s as good in the ring as he is on the mic. 

Prediction: I predict this to be the sleeper match of the night. For people that watch NJPW regularly this match might not surprise in terms of how good it turns out from a quality standpoint. I expect Tanahashi to put up a valiant fight and target MJF’s legs during the match. 

Tanahashi is capable of taking a beating and building sympathy with the crowd, so I would expect MJF to be in control for the bulk of the match with the crowd really getting into his comebacks until MJF ultimately takes a shortcut to beat him. 

Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him @SR_Torch

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