Thursday, June 27, 2024

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday it's the third-annual AEW x NJPW (xCMLL) Forbidden Door extravaganza!

This time of year is generally a tough sell for AEW, as it is geared to a smaller segment of the fanbase that also enjoys NJPW and other international promotions, but the show is always a ton of fun and this year's edition should be no different.  From a wrestling standpoint there are no fewer than 7 or 8 potential ****+ matches on this show, including a huge babyface vs. babyface main event and two women's championship matches that should be stellar.  There are a couple of head-scratching inclusions too but they should deliver regardless.  Let's take a look.....

JUST ADDED: Mariah May vs. Saraya

I usually don't do picks for the pre-show matches but this is an Owen Cup match so I'll add it.  By the way, this pre-show also has Mistico/Lucha Bros vs. Yota Tsuji/Hiromu Takahashi/Titan??  Holy shitballs, I dunno who's gonna win that (probably Team Mistico), but it'll be a banger. 

But back to the Mariah match.  Should be a solid outing.  Mariah is clearly going all the way in this tournament, so kaboom.

Pick: Mariah

Samoa Joe/Hook/Katusyori Shibata vs. Chris Jericho/Big Bill/Jeff Cobb(?)

This one hasn't officially come together yet, as Bryan Keith's injury left an opening in the Learning Tree trio, which Jericho intended to fill with Minoru Suzuki, only to be rebuffed with extreme prejudice.  Elsewhere, Jeff Cobb was supposed to be defending his NJPW TV Title in an open challenge but that apparently fell through.  I wonder who the intended opponent was.  Anyway, it seems at last night's Collision tapings they revealed Jeff Cobb as the third man, which should make this match better.  Not sure when Suzuki's challenge to Jericho one-on-one will play out, maybe next week's Dynamite?

Pick: I think team JoeHookBata probably wins.

The Elite vs. The Acclaimed/Hiroshi Tanahashi

This one just got announced last night, as The Elite challenged The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn to a trios match, but Billy delivered a video message from Tanahashi taking Billy's place.  I guess Billy and The Acclaimed anticipated this challenge?  Anyway this should be a lot of fun and will mark the first Okada vs. Tanahashi match in an AEW ring.  I'd say either The Acclaimed team needs to win to keep them strong going into their eventual title match with the Bucks, or Okada pins Tanahashi, who at his age and condition can afford to lose.  I think the latter makes more sense.

Pick: The Elite

Orange Cassidy vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

This should be pretty great.  ZSJ is awesome, Cassidy overachieves in every singles match.  I think Zack probably gets either an inescapable cradle or a submission win, and there's no shame in tapping out to a master technician.

Pick: ZSJ

MJF vs. Hechicero

This is a really weird one.  Don't get me wrong, it should be an excellent match, but why Hechicero as Max's first PPV match since his injury?  Why not have him mix it up with Roddy Strong and those guys for a while until Adam Cole is cleared?  Is Cole still that far away from returning?  Max needs a hot feud for the summer.  Anyway this'll be a chance for Max to show off his grappling acumen.  It's just too bad Rush couldn't be on this show for political reasons.

Pick: MJF

TNT Championship Ladder Match: Konosuke Takeshita vs. Jack Perry vs. Dante Martin vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Lio Rush vs. El Phantasmo

I guess ELP's inclusion gets announced on Collision?  Why didn't ELP have to beat someone to qualify for this?  Oh well, should be a helluva fun ladder match.  It's very clear Perry is walking away with the title, as he should.  I'm guessing if Adam Copeland didn't get hurt Perry would've dethroned him anyway.

Pick: Jack Perry

Bryan Danielson vs. Shingo Takagi

Awww shit, this is gonna be great.  These two haven't wrestled each other in 14 years and their last meeting on DragonGate's second PPV in 2010 was a MOTY candidate.  Both guys are even better now.  Danielson's run in this Owen Cup tournament is gonna be something.  

Pick: Danielson

TBS/NJPW Strong Championship: Mercedes Mone vs. Stephanie Vaquer

Another one I can't wait for.  I'm super into Vaquer's work from the few matches I've seen, and she'll be a perfect opponent to complement Mercedes.  Give these two 20 minutes and let 'em fly.  Mercedes will obviously be winning the title originally intended for her, and maybe we'll see a rematch later in NJPW Strong.

Pick: Mercedes

AEW Women's Championship: Toni Storm vs. Mina Shirakawa

This might be the best-built match on the show.  Toni, Mariah and Mina have been perfect in telling this story of three-way jealousy, and it should play right into Mariah breaking off from her mentor and effectively selling her soul for the fame, a la All About Eve.  Should be another excellent match on this show.

Pick: Toni retains

IWGP Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Tetsuya Naito

Sadly it seems Mox's title run is coming to an end.  Best thing for NJPW certainly, as Mox isn't able to be there full-time.  Also his star power is needed back on AEW TV.  But let's find him a hot feud, shall we?  Naito is presumably holding onto this title until the Tokyo Dome, where hopefully, finally, Yota Tsuji will take it from him.

Pick: Naito

AEW Championship: Swerve Strickland vs. Will Ospreay

This should be spectacular.  For the third straight Forbidden Door I predict an Ospreay match steals the show.  Now, Will shouldn't win the title here, nor should he win it at this year's All In, contrary to popular mandate.  He's only officially been in the company since February, he doesn't need to capture the big belt yet, and Swerve certainly doesn't need to lose it to another babyface if they're serious about making him a draw.  Swerve needs a white-hot feud going into Wembley, and it should be against Hangman Page.  Page could even steal the title from him and lose it back at Full Gear or something.  Ospreay can win the title at next year's All In, when he's become a bona fide ratings draw.  Have patience, everyone.  Anyway that's neither here nor there; this match will be great, Swerve will get a hard-fought win, and Ospreay will live to fight another day.

Pick: Swerve retains

This here's a helluva lineup.  Some of the build has been erratic but some of it's been pretty great too.  There will be a lot of **** and better matches on this show, and that's just what I want in a big wrestling PPV.  Let's go!

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