Friday, June 24, 2022

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door Preview & Predictions

Are you ready to open the Forbidden Door?  Well get ready....

Yes, this Sunday it's the long-awaited AEW/NJPW crossover PPV, Forbidden Door, featuring a who's who of both companies, minus a few badly timed injuries.  Goddammit Bryan....

Despite the one match I was most looking forward to no longer being on the show, this is still a fine lineup and should provide some excellent in-ring action.  A few too many multi-man bouts for my taste but a) that's not unlike your average NJPW PPV and b) that's to be expected on a cross-promotion event for political reasons.  Don't wanna have too many of your guys lose one-on-one matches to the other company.  That said, I'd tweak the lineup in a few places, but I'm not gonna complain too much about it.

The build for this show has been very mixed, some of it exciting, some of it sloppy, and I'm not sure how many new fans either company will make with this show - it's more of a gift to the core audience like me, salivating at the chance to see both companies in one place.  It has felt weird to see so many of the important AEW talents de-emphasized during this build, so next week's Dynamite will sorta feel like getting back on the clock.  But I'm looking forward to this show.

Let's take a gander....

Pre-Show: Max Caster & Gunn Club vs. Yuya Uemura, Alex Coughlin, The DKC & Kevin Knight

This Buy-In match is pure filler but should be mildly amusing.  I'm not familiar with any of the NJPW side, but I think they probably win here, as the Gunn Club can afford a loss.

Pick: Team NJPW

Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston, Wheeler Yuta & Shota Umino

This should be a fun schmozz that furthers the Jericho-Kingston feud while also spotlighting Suzuki and introducing the AEW audience to Shota Umino, who is absolutely loaded with potential.  This kid has it.  Sammy will do some nutty things and Yuta will look like a badass.  Should be fun.

Pick: I think Umino probably eats the loss and then Team Eddie will get their revenge at Blood & Guts

AEW All-Atlantic Championship: Malakai Black vs. PAC vs. Miro vs. Clark Connors

Another fucking injury.  What the hell is going on with this show??  I was really looking forward to seeing Ishii and Miro mix it up but I guess that's another one we'll have to see another day.  Christ.  Anyway, I'm not crazy about the idea of this new title unless they do something special with it so it stands out.  Either have it defended weekly or have it defended on non-AEW shows on a regular basis.  And it should really be renamed since Japan and China aren't on the Atlantic.  Should be a helluva match though, even with the substitution.  I think either Black or Miro probably wins here.  Eh, I guess I'll go with Miro.

Pick: Miro

Young Bucks, Hikuleo & El Phantasmo vs. Darby Allin, Sting, Shingo Takagi & Hiromu Takahashi

This one should really be the Bucks vs. Shingo & Hiromu because holy shit that would be spectacular.  But with this much talent in the match it'll be super fun anyway.  Lots of intriguing combinations available here.  I guess Hikuleo or Phantasmo will probably get pinned in this one; Darby, Shingo and Hiromu are big current stars and Sting hasn't been pinned yet in AEW.  

Pick: Team Darby

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. TBD

Goddammit.  ZSJ vs. Danielson would've been a top ten match of the year.  And I know we'll get to see it eventually, but god damn it.  Anyway, Danielson promised us a worthy fuckin' substitute, and the only two options I can think of that fall into that category are Johnny Gargano or Claudio Castagnoli.  Either would deliver a great match, but Claudio is obviously the much bigger, more anticipated signing.  In the back of my mind I was thinking "How amazing would it be if Nigel McGuinness showed up here?" but I know he's still under contract as an NXT UK announcer - what a waste.  Anywho, this might be the hardest match to predict.  If the endgame is ZSJ vs. Danielson, it makes sense for ZSJ to win here and then challenge Danielson as soon as he's cleared.  But bringing in a name to lose their first match is also a weird move.  Maybe this goes to a draw.

Pick: I guess if I have to pick someone I'll go with Zack, there's certainly no shame in losing to him

IWGP & ROH Tag Team Championship: FTR vs. Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan vs. Roppongi Vice

Another match that should just be a straight up tag bout, this will nevertheless be awesome.  FTR is on fire, Cobb is the balls, and RPG Vice is always fun.  FTR are the new belt collectors in AEW so I think they win the IWGP belts and do a bit of traveling to defend them.

Pick: FTR

AEW Women's Championship: Thunder Rosa vs. Toni Storm

This should be one of the better AEW women's matches of the year; Storm has looked great since jumping over, and Rosa is always good against strong opponents.  Give this one time and it should deliver.  I don't see Rosa dropping the title yet, so she likely comes out on top.

Pick: Rosa retains

IWGP US Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Orange Cassidy

This could be the sleeper hit of the night.  I know Ospreay vs. Andrade was the original plan, and while that's mechanically a superior matchup, Cassidy is WAY more over, and a babyface.  So this match has a much stronger dynamic and will get a bigger crowd reaction.  Plus, Cassidy can afford to lose without it hurting his popularity.  This should be a helluva contest, a la Cassidy vs. PAC from a few years ago.

Pick: Ospreay is obviously retaining

IWGP World Championship: Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada vs. Hangman Page vs. Adam Cole

Thank Christ Okada is participating in this show; it wouldn't have felt right without New Japan's biggest star.  The buildup to this was very odd though, with Page challenging Okada to a singles match, Okada losing the title to White, White saying Page doesn't deserve a title shot, Cole petitioning for one himself, White say he doesn't deserve one either, and then Okada showing up and the four-way getting booked.  Doesn't make a whole lotta sense, but the match should be great.  I think White probably retains since it would be silly for him to lose the belt this quickly.  White's performance in the Dominion match with Okada was a masterclass in heel storytelling and I look forward to seeing his title run play out.

Pick: White retains

AEW Interim Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Goddammit part 2.  I was pretty damn excited for Punk vs. Tanahashi but then Punk went down with an injury too.  The upside is, Mox vs. Tana has been teased for a long time and now we're finally getting it.  And it's possible this match ends up better than Punk-Tana would have; Moxley has been turning in fantastic performances against NJPW guys the last three years.  I feel like Moxley is that one guy who can always be counted on, who's never as appreciated as some of the other guys.  I'm always reminded of that line from The Dark Knight, when Bruce says to Alfred "Gotham needs its true hero and I let that psychopath blow him half to hell," to which Alfred responds "Which is why, for now, they're gonna have to make do with you."  Moxley is AEW's Batman!  Hopefully this turns out like a hard-hitting G1 main event.  I think Mox has to be the new Interim Champion and then in a few months we'll get to see him face Punk for the first time since 2013.  Should be a damn fine main event.

Pick: Mox

So there's the lineup - not sure how the buyrate will be for this show.  The live crowd will be the company's second-biggest ever, but does that translate to PPV buys as well?  I'm not sure.  Coming only a month after Double or Nothing and featuring a lot of talent the more casual AEW fans aren't very familiar with, coupled with the absences of Punk and Danielson (not to mention MJF and Omega), could hurt the overall number.  Hopefully it does respectable PPV business so we can see this become an annual tradition.

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