Is Forbidden Door Really A Dream Match PPV?

This weekend, The Forbidden Door pay-per-view will bring together a co-promoted event between New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling. There were co-promoted events previously, most recently for New Japan when they did the “War of The Worlds” series with Ring Of Honor a few years ago, but this is a much bigger scale with the live PPV broadcast that was promoted on national television on TBS.

As much as this alliance is a “dream match” type of scenario, the logistics of the situation show why some dream matches reach that status because they aren’t realistically possible. All things considered, a concept that should’ve had the wrestling world anticipating this event lacks hype and the key of any specific “dream matches” on the card.

So, why isn’t there more hype for the Forbidden Door event?

First it should be noted that the vast majority of these super cards fall short of expectations because of the political nature of the industry, and it’s not always a form of pettiness. Each promotion has their key stars and want to protect their value on such a platform, but at the same time, not every match can go to a draw or be a DQ so how do you negotiate match-ups and finishes that keep both sides strong? More often than not, you have to sacrifices the biggest bouts possible to get to a place where both organizations get a chance to shine. For example, when there were rumors of a potential AEW pay-per-view with New Japan being involved, the fans immediately booked Okada vs. Punk, Tanahashi vs. Danielson, or White vs. Moxley. Inherently, even if Punk wasn’t injured, would Tony Khan want his champion to lose in the main event spot? Would NJPW really be willing to allow their top guy to look secondary on such an American platform, especially since the company has expanded more into the market? Plus, there are the traditional petty politics that have plagued pro wrestling for decades, as any talent that works for AAA in Mexico, such as Andrade, Pentagon, and Rey Fenix can’t appear on the show because of New Japan’s working agreement with CMLL. In my opinion, Andrade’s run in All Elite has been somewhat underwhelming, but The Lucha Brothers, particularly Rey Fenix, are two of the best in-ring talents on the roster so it’s definitely a missed opportunity that they aren’t on the card.

Again, some dream match scenarios should stay dream matches.

While New Japan has done more in the American market in recent years, the Japanese product is still a niche to the audience in the United States. In fact, in some ways, the AEW presentation is a niche product so this crossover is a niche of a niche, in terms of its audience. Taking absolutely nothing away from the incredible action and athletes of the Japanese league, New Japan is, at best, a vague concept to the viewers on TBS. Again, this isn’t a knock on the talent, but there were only a few weeks for the company to promote this show on television, and it’s obvious that the vast majority of the audience doesn’t know who most of the New Japan talent are. Too often in recent weeks, random guys run in and that’s their introduce to a national television audience. How many of the people watching on TBS know who Great O’Khan or Desperado is? Suzuki-gun is a notable stable in Japan, but the American fans don’t have a reference point for it so just mentioning the name on television doesn’t do much to promote their involvement.

Essentially, this crossover concept is too “inside baseball” for TBS.

Don’t get me wrong, the show will be successful to a limited demographic, which is why it’s not necessarily surprising that the show sold out in Chicago, but a core group of diehard fans that are willing to travel to an event doesn’t automatically translate to a successful pay-per-view buy rate, especially just a month after the $50 Double or Nothing broadcast.

As far as the actual card, between the political hurdles and injuries, there aren’t any major matches on paper.

Jon Moxley is definitely a star, but I think it’s fair to say that there was more interest in the previously announced CM Punk/Tanahashi match than the replacement bout. The circumstances of the contest actually hinder its drawing power. It’s obvious that Moxley is winning the interim title since the Japanese legend will have a busy schedule in his native country with the upcoming G1 tournament. Tanahashi is a top guy in NJPW, but at this point in his career, most of that is based on his status as a legend. He can still go in the ring, but isn’t at his physical peak because of several injuries over the years. Unfortunately, Tanahashi doesn’t have the cache with the American audience to allow his status to elevate the presentation of his matches. The match will be fine, but it’s not something I would call a work rate match on the card. Plus, Tanahashi standing around barely saying anything last week didn’t exactly present him as a possible interim champion in the future. The All-Atlantic title is completely unnecessary so the four-way match is really just another match on the card. The random six man tag is just a way to shoehorn a few more names onto the card so there’s no major importance for the results. Will Ospreay vs. Jungle Boy could’ve stole the show, but instead it’s Orange Cassidy in that spot. Outside of a bout that Ospreay can win, I’m not sure why this contest was booked. Will Ospready is a championship level performer for New Japan so it’s doesn’t exactly make sense that he was booked against a comedy wrestler. Unless the triple threat tag match is a way for FTR to get a run in New Japan, the match is more or less pointless because the amount of tag titles featured on AEW programming is so comical that outside of the AEW tag belts, the other tag championships lack importance. Jay White, the current IWGP heavyweight champion, is rumored to be on the card, but even if his match is announced this week, will only a few days to advertise it make a major difference for the buy rate?

Bryan Danielson, who was on the sidelines since the Double or Nothing event, with an injury, was announced for Dynamite tomorrow to clarify his status ahead of the show. If I had to guess, I would say that he probably won’t wrestle at the event, but even if he does, again does only a few days to promote it honestly make a difference? I’m not sure how long the Japanese talent would’ve needed exposure on TBS for most of the All Elite audience to be familiar with them, but I know for sure that it would’ve been more than a month.

The numbers tell the story with last week’s edition of Dynamite, a broadcast the featured a lot of New Japan talent, draw 761,000 viewers, which is a decrease from the rating that usually hovers around a million viewers.

Ultimately, injuries and timing are what took away the “dream match” scenarios from this card. Why isn’t there more anticipation for this show? The answer is easy, the biggest stars from both companies won’t be at the pay-per-view. Kenny Omega, the biggest former NJPW talent that works for All Elite, is still on the shelf. CM Punk is on the sidelines, as far as we know Danielson is still injured, and Okada will be in Japan for the upcoming addition to his family. The show will probably be a good event for what is it, but it just doesn’t have the ingredients to be the historic event that some would’ve thought of when the concept was initially mentioned last year.

I’m sure the buy rate will be at least decent, but definitely lowered than last month’s Double or Nothing show, which has to be considered somewhat of a disappointment with the original expectations of this event. Sometimes, there’s a reason that dream matches should stay dream matches.

What do you think? Share your thoughts, opinions, feedback, and anything else that was raised on Twitter @PWMania and Facebook.com/PWMania.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta