Thursday, June 22, 2023

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 Preview & Predictions

Holy lord what a lineup we have in store for us this Sunday at AEW Forbiddon Door II!

Seriously, last year's show was excellent, but this card is next-level and then some.  They could just give us the top two matches and have the show run 90 minutes and it would be an all-timer.  But on top of what should easily be two of the best matches of 2023 there are a host of other bangers on tap.  Let's just dive in.

Buy-In Owen Hart Cup: Athena vs. Billie Starkz

This one is a no-brainer, Athena is obviously advancing to round two of the women's Owen Hart Cup, almost certainly facing Willow Nightingale (which should be a killer match).

Pick: Athena

Owen Hart Cup: CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima

Ok this is a bit of an underwhelming matchup for Punk but he did just get back and he's obviously easing his way back into heavy lifting as it were.  Should be a fun little comeback singles match and I'd be willing to bet real money Punk wins this tournament and parlays that into an AEW Title rubber match with MJF (one that's long overdue, mind you).  

Pick: Punk

Chris Jericho/Minoru Suzuki/Sammy Guevara vs. Sting/Darby Allin/???

Hard to believe in all the years they've been in the wrestling business, Jericho and Sting have never locked up between the ropes.  Granted they've only been in the same company a fraction of that time, but you'd think WCW would've had them interact at some point between 1996 and 1999.  Then again, look who was booking the place.  Eric sucks.  Anyway that's the big draw of this match and it should be a lot of fun.  Not sure who the mystery partner is but I'd say Tetsuya Naito would be a good bet since he and Jericho have a history in NJPW.  I'd love for it to be Yota Tsuji because that kid is a major superstar in the making, but Naito makes more sense.  I imagine Jericho and Sammy butt heads in this match, leading to JAS taking the dive.  Sting is still undefeated in AEW and that won't and shouldn't change till his retirement match (hopefully against Darby at All In).

Pick: Team Sting

***SPOILER*** Adam Cole vs. "Filthy" Tom Lawlor

This match was set up on Rampage by MJF, as a way to stick it to Cole.  I'm not super hyped about this but it should be very good.  Cole is obviously winning as he's still chasing MJF's Title.

Pick: Cole

AEW International Championship: Orange Cassidy vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia

I think I'd prefer a singles match between Cassidy and ZSJ, but politically I can see why that isn't happening.  Both guys are rising stars with belts and neither of them should lose right now.  I have to think Garcia is eating the pin/submission; he beat Shibata with a rollup on Dynamite to set up their future title match, so losing to Cassidy doesn't really hurt him here.  Cassidy has to be retaining, thus extending one of the most entertaining title runs in wrestling right now.

Pick: Cassidy retains

AEW Women's Championship: Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale

Here's the sleeper hit of the night, Storm and Willow are both awesome and this should be too if given enough time.  Britt may be the division's top star but Toni is its MVP, while Willow is maybe its most promising future headliner.  I can't say enough good things about the two of them.  I wonder if Mercedes hadn't gotten injured if we'd be looking at Storm vs. Mercedes for the NJPW Strong Title instead, thus Mercedes would go over.  Anyway this'll be great.

Pick: Storm retains

Blackpool Combat Club/Konosuke Takeshita/Shota Umino vs. The Elite/Eddie Kingston/Tomohiro Ishii

Anyone who saw the Six-Man Tag Title match at Dominion or the trios match from last week's Dynamite should have very high expectations for this one.  The BCC fellas have been crushing these multi-man tags and will do so again here, plus we'll get to see Takeshita, a heat magnet, in his first major bout since the heel turn.  Plus fuckin' Ishii!  Goddamn this'll be good.  The Elite took the win last week so I think BCC gets one here and I wouldn't be surprised if Takeshita pins someone (Ishii or Eddie most likely).

Pick: Team BCC

IWGP World Championship: Sanada vs. Jungle Boy

Not a ton of heat for this match but I think these two will easily win over the crowd.  I'm still not used to the idea of Sanada being NJPW's top champ as he's not even in their top three draws, but the guy can certainly go.  Jungle Boy's heel turn is coming sooner rather than later and we'll get a hint of it here I think.  

Pick: Sanada retains

AEW Championship: MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Another match that should be excellent and further establish MJF as one of the great young wrestlers of this era.  MJF is a classic heel, Tanahashi is a classic babyface, both guys are expert-level storytellers and masters at making basic wrestling holds mean something.  Tana is one of NJPW's elder statesmen, which means he can take losses without it hurting his aura.  MJF will cheat, but he'll retain.

Pick: MJF retains

IWGP US Championship: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay

Their first encounter was an automatic Match of the Year contender (one that seemed untoppable until MJF-Danielson took place), and this will be too.  Just sit back and watch the fireworks.  I expect Mr. Callis will get involved here and cost Kenny the title he won in January, thus setting up Kenny vs. Takeshita later on.  Either way this is gonna fuckin' rock.

Pick: Ospreay

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson

Holy fuckin' shitballs.  For the first time ever, the two best wrestlers of this generation (probably any generation when all is said and done) will treat us all to an absolute clinic.  Give these guys as much time as they need and they'll deliver one for the ages.  This is one of those dream matches I've wanted to see since 2015 when I first got into NJPW.  Anyone who poo-poos this show and especially this match can really just fuck right off; we're being treated to an instant masterpiece this Sunday and it's one of those situations where I'm saying "What did I do to deserve such generosity?"  At $50 a pop I feel like I'm ripping YOU off.  There's no way Okada loses here, as he's NJPW's top dog, championship or not, while Danielson is a) not damaged by hard-fought losses and b) generous to a fault when it comes to putting other guys over.  Doesn't matter though, this will be an all-time classic match.

Pick: Okada

Like I said, this PPV could just be the two main bouts and it would be legendary.  But there's a ton of other stuff to be excited about too.  You could be alive at any time in history and you got to be here for a show like this.  Be truly thankful.  

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