AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door – Main Card Review and Grading:
Shota Umino, Wheeler Yuta & Eddie Kingston vs. The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara) & Minoru Suzuki
Jericho’s entrance will never, everrrrrrrrr get old. No matter what side of the Face/Heel Jericho is, he is always over. The wizard managed to come to an agreement with Suzuki for this match, surprising due to their previous history. Exciting nonetheless, I can see why. With Eddie Kingston, can I say not a fan still? I am still waiting for that match that ties me to him, so far, I am struggling to see why fans are so invested. Anyway, with Suzuki in this match, it was clear that Suzuki and Kingston would come face to face during the match, both can take a beating, and I was not wrong! Wheeler and Jericho started for their teams. Jericho again showed that he fears Kingston, not wanting any fair fight against him, he couldn’t tag out quick enough! This brought Kingston face to face with Suzuki, within the first few minutes, both Kingston and Suzuki took some mean slaps from each other. Suzuki proves he can handle whatever is thrown at him all day, unfazed by Kingston’s slaps to the chest. I would hate to be on the end of those! Hearing Suzuki’s name being chanted is also unreal to hear, no matter where he goes, he is appreciated and respected. I have never seen Shota wrestle before, but I am impressed. He came into this match extremely quickly, hard-hitting, and very fast. The crowd loved it. Shota vs. Jericho is a match that needs to happen, their small but noticeable impact against each other was a nice touch to the previous history back in NJPW.
There was a moment during the match that included the majority involved. Guevara produced a lovely shooting star press from the top rope onto Shota, who was outside the ring. Wheeler then made a dive through the ropes to Guevara. Kingston also dived through the ropes onto Guevara, Suzuki then teased doing the same only to pull out halfway, bringing a nice laugh around the stadium. All participants managed to get one strong move on each other before bringing this match down a notch to a slightly slower pace for the final third. This brought the match down a pace for the final third, everyone getting a break outside of the ring. Shota vs. Jericho got its moment, producing a lovely avalanche powerslam from the second rope for a close three count. Hopefully, these two get a match down the line, they certainly deserve it. Shota used the Walls of Jericho on Jericho, causing Suzuki and Guevara to enter the ring and cause a stop. Shota fought back and took on all three men, eventually taking the loss by Jericho via the Judas Effect. The JAS now have the man advantage for Blood & Guts. Interesting. Great start to the main card.
ROH Tag Team & IWGP Tag Team Championship
FTR (C) (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. United Empire (C) (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta)
This match was ready to go right away, a quick promo hyping this next match by all participants. This was a winner takes all for both ROH Tag Titles and IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles. I had FTR written down for this one the entire time, they’ve been made to look unstoppable no matter where they go, looking to add yet another promotions Championship to their already acclaimed, ROH Tag Title and AAA Tag Titles. I didn’t see that ending anytime soon, I was correct. The match started with a relatively slow pace, starting with two in the ring and not three, guessing this allows for one team to have a breather, which is not a bad thing. Should allow for this match to go that extra mile. Dax Harwood and Trent Beretta started things off, managing only a handful of moves before Jeff Cobb tagged himself into the match. Harwood came out of the ring shortly after with a possible injury to his left shoulder, possibly a work.
What ensued was Cash getting a beating from both United Empire members, poor Trent was waiting so patiently to be involved, Cash made the tag, and the match took a change of pace, again, a fresher team, so I am all for this with only two wrestling at one time. This was a very much back and forth between teams, even with Cash. The crowd goes wild for the return of Dax, just in time to save Cash from a beating. Dax is sporting some super-duper tape to his left shoulder. Dax is extremely over with the fans right now, every match he is placed in, whether that’s alongside Cash or in singles matches, he’s constantly proving why he’s been shown as of late in singles competition. Everyone got to show their abilities, and Cobb pulled off a standing moonsault! He’s a big guy, what a sight!
A few near falls, and what certainly seemed like a three count, boy do the fans know it too! They made it felt with chants from around the arena, “You f**ked up” It was undoubtedly a three count for poor Rocky on Dax. Shortly after this, FTR grab the victory with the Big Rig. Still your ROH Tag Champions and your new IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champions.
A short video showed a brief promo from Juice Robinson and Jay White. Juice claiming the match between Will Ospreay and Orange Cassidy is a #1 contenders match for his title, the IWGP U.S Championship. White hyped up his four-way match between himself and three of the best wrestlers in the world, I am buzzing to see this match.
AEW All Atlantic Championship
PAC vs. Miro vs. Clark Connors vs. Malakai Black
Before tonight, I had not heard much about Clark, or seen much from him. It certainly felt as if the fans in attendance were in the same boat as me, a relatively quiet entrance followed. This match had all the potential of being the show-stealer. Out of the four competitors, two of them were easily champion material for AEW. Miro could be included in that too, except he has just returned from injury.
PAC made it clear who he was targeting from the bell ringing, a running drop kick to Black. In my opinion, give these two 30 minutes, and I’m more than confident, that these two would tear the house down. Take my money already! Both are fast-paced, energetic, highflyers, and highly creative, and both deserve to be the first AEW All-Atlantic Champion. Miro showed his strength throughout this match, taking it to poor Clark on numerous occasions. I felt as if this was more of a crowd calmer than anything else, it felt as if it was missing something. This was very much PAC vs. Black, and Miro vs. Clark. Miro uses his strength to get involved, and Clark takes a beating and is moved on from the ring.
Black brought a table into the fold, allowing Clark to have his moment by spearing Miro through it! Someone was going to go through it. Clark exploded into the match after that Spear, taking it to Black and PAC, causing a near fall after a spear to PAC. Not too bad, it seems like an athletic, more muscular Jungle Boy.
Miro placed PAC into a nasty submission, wrenching his back so far back it looked painful! Black saved PAC from taping using the mist on Miro. I have never understood this crap, you can see it coming! Close your damn eyes, you fool. Black went for a submission on Clark, while PAC took to the skies with the 450 on to the submission hold by Black on Clark. PAC then applied his submission for the win on Clark, keeping Miro and Black strong by not taking the pin or submission. Rightful winner in my eyes, your first ever AEW All Atlantic Champion.
Very much mixed pace this one, sped up once the table was introduced, considering who was involved. I was expecting this to be slightly faster-paced, unsure if that’s tiredness from my end or placed in the wrong position on the card.
Dudes With Attitude (Darby Allin, Shingo Takagi & Sting) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) & El Phantasmo (w/Hikuleo)
I love Sting, anything with the Icon is a sight to see, this man is 63 years old! Jheeze.
Entrances take place, and no Sting to start? The Bullet Club make their way out (The Young Bucks returned to the club for one night), and the lights go out! A spotlight is shone towards the rafters, Sting is up there! Somehow within seconds, Sting is back down on top of the entrance circle things and takes the dive onto The Bullet Club. What an entrance. Sting and Shingo make some of the same moves to El Phantasmo before Darby is brought in to speed things up.
Things were not sped up, Darby ended up taking some flicks to the head, and scratches to the back? Which, since when has this been a thing? I am aware Mox did this the other day too, but why? This is not wrestling, not into it one bit! Shingo soon entered and showed his ability and speed against The Young Bucks, exceptionally smooth. Sting manages to make the tag and produces a Stinger Splash to all three opponents. Darby then hit an over-the-shoulder Stunner, wow. This kid should go far if given the opportunity, Darby has a daredevil move and mindset, it shows how much the fans love him! It will not surprise me if he is the one that retires Sting one day, just saying.
Shingo and El Phantasmo got some time together, and they went for it, Shingo really took it to him and pulled off the win! Not a very long match, certainly filling a gap here. I would like to see Darby and Sting vs. The Young Bucks now due to that win and those being protected. Could you give Sting and Darby the titles for a short run? Kind of hard when you think of Sting only having bit parts in matches, I’m not sure Darby could carry every tag match for them both.
There was a short backstage clip showing Jericho and Shota. Jericho is speaking a tonne of lies about how he appreciates Shota, and boom, the Wizard is at it again! A fireball to the face of Shota. I told you, they must have a match! This certainly points to that outcome, this isn’t over between those two.
AEW Women’s Championship
Thunder Rosa (C) vs. Toni Storm
I’m a huge fan of Toni Storm, I have been for a while and have said it to everyone who watches AEW or is just a wrestling fan. AEW needs to put the title on her, she deserves it. Nothing against Rosa, it just feels as if Storm is maybe a slightly bigger name to promote women’s wrestling for AEW. One other thing, are entrances just not a thing anymore? I swear both were down and in the ring within a minute, no time wasting here.
Nice to see a lot of respect between these two, grappling to start, back and forth between both. Fans seem very divided on who to chant for on this one, maybe happy with whoever captures the victory here. Hard-hitting to start though! Some mean-looking chest punches from both. There was a poor Suplex on the edge of the ring, but I’ll forget about it due to the DDT that followed onto the floor! This was a very physical match, with some strong moves by both. Rosa seized the win. In all honesty, fans didn’t seem to be invested in this one. Either the wrong call for the victory or placed in the wrong spot on the card, hey, what do I know? I’m just a fan. I still wonder when Storm will be given this significant win though, seems to be very much wins for Storm week in and week out until PPV, or a big name steps up. I wonder if we will see the same pattern, like the match with Britt Baker? Take the loss here, get the win next. Handshake at the end, nothing special this one. Hey, it’s still better than most of the crap we see on Mondays.
IWGP U.S. Championship
Will Ospreay (C) vs. Orange Cassidy
I was so excited for Ospreay, to be able to show his ability over there! Seeing him live in the UK was excellent, no matter who the opponent is, Ospreay always outshines and puts on a match. An unreal talent, and from where I was born and currently reside! You go, Ospreay!
Jim Ross was brought out to commentate on this one. Two completely different wrestlers, both extraordinarily athletic and fast in their ways. I’m sure it will work. It started at an amazingly fast pace, with reversals and back and forth. Ospreay hits hard, ridiculously hard, well makes it seem that way. I love the way he taunts his opponents. On numerous occasions, pretending to squeeze an orange over Cassidy’s head, doing sit-ups in the middle of the ring, small taps while down, what Cassidy is well known for! At one point placed his hand in Cassidy’s pocket during a submission only to pull his hand out to show a middle finger. I love it, very verbal towards his opponent and the fans, and to the camera. Ospreay is unique. The interaction between these two is funny, the crowd was well into it.
Both proved they could be physical, with some impressive moves pulled off by both, and some mean-looking DDTs from Cassidy nearly pulling off the unthinkable. At one point, Cassidy pulled an Eddie Guerrero and faked a nice touch that brought many reversals and constant fast pace moves that caused a stupidly close three count for Cassidy. I mean CMs away from the three. I lost count of how many near falls there have been now. Storm Breaker by Ospreay for the win, an unreal match. Give me more of this, please! Match of the night, so far!
A beatdown on Cassidy causes Trent and Rocky to appear to make the save. SHIBATA appears! “Holy sh*t” moment. A beating on Ospreay Ensues but pulled to safety by the United Empire.
I’ll be honest, I had to re-watch this, and I changed my grade! Unbelievable!
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
What a shame the show took place with no Bryan, but it must go on! Bryan supposedly handpicked the opponent for ZSJ, it can’t be a bad shout, can it? ZSJ could not get any more English if he tried. Ohh, the crowd goes wild. Claudio Castagnoli, formally known as Cesaro! It is so good to see him back in a ring, Claudio got a massive pop!
Straight in with a European uppercut and a Neutralizer! Fast start. ZSJ certainly has his hands full. A couple of submission moves from ZSJ slow the pace down of this. Claudio showed his strength throughout with ZSJ above his head multiple times, including a Vertical Suplex for 10 to 15 seconds. Oh, and holding ZSJ on one arm, walking outside the ring with him, up the stairs, and launching him over the top rope. This is very much strength vs. technical at the minute.
Commentators stated that Eddie Kingston hates Claudio Castagnoli more than Bryan Danielson. Unsure where this has come from, have I missed something? Potentially have history elsewhere? I am sure this will be explored come Blood and Guts. The swing was attempted twice after fans were calling for it, but so far, no luck. Claudio showed that most of the hits from ZSJ were not fazing him. The swing has taken place, only for a six though! A possible injury here for Claudio!
For submission moves, ZSJ is one of the best, if not the best out there, the way he transitions from one move to the next is mad, so smooth, and honestly comes across as no match for Claudio when it comes to submissions. I can’t forget Bryan, I can see why that match was supposed to take place! Claudio grabs the win with a Powerbomb.
Unsure if there is an injury to Claudio here. I suppose we will see going forward, fingers crossed nothing too serious, especially as Claudio is the replacement for Bryan come Blood and Guts.
IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Jay White (C) vs. Kazuchika Okada vs. Adam Cole vs. “Hangman” Adam Page
Adam Cole will never lose the fans when it comes to his entrance. One of the best around BAY BAY! An incredible sight to see. If you ever can witness Cole’s entrance live, don’t miss it! I’m still unsure how Page was included in this match or decided he should be included in this match. I am sure he will show me why, it feels as if this position was for someone else, and they needed a replacement, Cough*Omega*Cough. Okada received a fantastic reception! One hell of a wrestler, he is a once-in-a-lifetime performer! Well-deserved reception! A very mixed reaction for White. Either side of the fence from the fans but nowhere near as loud as any of the other three, strange in my opinion. Hopefully, this match will show the fans why he is the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
“Holy sh*t” chants started before the bell even rang. Fans were well into this one, and rightfully so. Four unreal competitors, and as rightfully pointed out. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship has never been defended in a four-way match before! Multi-man matches aren’t really a thing in NJPW. This had all the makings to be a superb match.
Nice touch from Okada and Page as they shake hands before being taken out by White and Cole. It seems this will be a two vs. two for a while. White and Cole take it to Okada and Page separately, I am sure this will implode shortly, come on, it always does. A nasty-looking suplex from the two on Page onto the entrance ramp, keeping Page out for the time being. The two moved on to Okada inside the ring for some, “Too Sweet” slaps.
A lovely superkick to Page from Cole during a backflip by Page, connected right on the mush. Cole was the one to make the backstabbing move, producing a Backstabber to White. White produces nasty throws, goes for a rear choke, and suplexes them onto their heads, mean-looking. All get some moves in, and boom, everyone is down, see what I did there. Boom. Page got an extremely near fall on White after a powerbomb. Moonsault to the outside on Okada and Cole. Lariat was hit perfectly on White, only for Okada to stop the pinfall.
Okada gets in on the action, hitting some high, and I mean high elbow drop on Cole. It came across as a relatively fast-paced match, with everyone hitting their main offenses against each other, all getting their moments and time to display what they can do. White runs in, hits the Blade runner on Okada, but pins Cole? Cole wasn’t hit with any finisher, wondering if some kind of injury has occurred to Cole? Concussion maybe? Early finish, anti-climactic was a good shout by Jim Ross. White’s face said it all at the end. Not great.
Interim AEW Championship
Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
I want to say before this match starts, it is such a shame CM Punk is not there/cannot be there due to injury, what a bummer! In your hometown as well. Nevertheless, the match to crown the Interim AEW World Champion. The start brought both grappling and mat work to get us going. This should be a very hard-hitting match.
A distraction occurred in the crowd to cause fans to chant, “You fu*ked up.” Unable to see what it was about, nor was it mentioned by commentary. Fans seemed more interested in this incident than the actual match. Missing Mox attempt some submission moves. Tanahashi was put through a table, I love the fact that wrestlers do not hold back with what they say here, Mox telling someone to “Get the fu*k out of the way” is perfect to his character, and compared to another promotion, it’s nice to hear showing that there are no restrictions here. Hey, NJPW allows it all the time too!
Not much takes place within this one, minor offense from both. Both were getting in enough to start building momentum, certainly a slow start. Also, Mox blading is not needed. I am all for blood during matches if it has happened accidentally. It is clear as day that he has bladed. There’s no way the stomps from Tanahashi have caused this, and a sling blade. Nope, I don’t think so. Mox rolls out of the ring, and the camera pans about 5 seconds before returning to a bloody Mox, suddenly busted open.
Tanahashi was taking it to Mox, a few submissions, strong offense, and some high-flying moves before Mox got the rebound. A handful of near falls for Tanahashi was just not enough to keep Mox down. Mox hit some nasty Lariat for a one count! Yes, a one count. The crowd was well behind Tanahashi during this, I was too. It would have been an interesting sight for AEW. I was having “The Ace” become the face of AEW while CM Punk is out! I am all for it. Suddenly, Death Rider, One, Two, Three. We have a new Interim AEW World Champion setting up a future match with CM Punk, Mox is the new Champion.
I can’t say I was into this one too much, again unsure if tiredness played a part. Don’t get me wrong, it was a battle this last match. Yes, the right call was made, but some can wish for other outcomes, right?
Jericho and Co interrupt and beat Mox and Tanahashi. On Wednesday, a wild brawl occurs between all involved in the Blood and Guts match. Including the newest addition to The Blackpool Combat Club, Claudio! He swung for 22 this time around, if I counted correctly. Overall, a very good PPV, and for a first between the partnership of AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, this was a banger. On to the next! I can see why they ended the PPV this way, setting up Wednesday, but in all honesty, there was no need for this. We have had these two teams brawl for weeks, either during or towards the end of Dynamite or Rampage every week. A little over the top now, but. I’m so excited for Blood and Guts! I love the dual cage idea, it’s amazing and can work with the correct teams.
Grade for Brawl: C+
What I will question is, I honestly thought they may have done a face-off with Punk and Mox instead of the brawl, to send the Chicago fans home happy. Mox isn’t going to be losing that Championship anytime soon, maybe another time. When is AEW next in Chicago? Unsure if possible, but, All Out on the 4th of September 2022. Possibly too early for a match between the two, but a face-off is possible?