The Exhibition Of Forbidden Door

Last weekend’s Forbidden Door pay-per-view was the subject of much discussion, as injuries that plagued the card caused changes to basically every match on the line-up in so form or fashion. That said, the post-PPV reaction was generally positive with solid bouts and a rowdy crowd in Chicago. However, was the pay-per-view anything more than an exhibition that won’t have an impact on the All Elite product going forward?

With more than a dozen matches on the broadcast, I will discuss the main card to attempt to keep this review from getting too lengthy. The opening six man tag of Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston, Wheeler Yuta, and Shota Umino was solid, despite the thrown together nature of the teams. The highlights of the match was the Kingston and Suzuki exchange, and Shota Umino was showcased as a legitimate star, even though he’s relatively new to the New Japan landscape. Suzuki has worked frequently in the United States in recent months so it would work well if there was another Kingston vs. Suzuki bout for Dynamite, but outside of that, nothing that happened in this match was essential to the BCC/JAS feud. In the same way, Shota Umino, an almost complete unknown to the vast majority of the All Elite television audience, looked good in this contest, which is a benefit to New Japan, but unless there are plans for him to work on at least a semi-regular basis in AEW, why should the audience be invested in him? JAS got the victory to gain the advantage for this week’s Blood and Guts match on Dynamite, but that was expect because it follows the standard War Games format.

The three-way tag title match was fine, and it was great to see FTR get the win, if for no other reason than it gets them to some potentially major events in Japan. For my money, FTR is the best tag team in the business today and two of the best workers anywhere in the world. The downside here is, there are so many belts, particularly tag belts on AEW programming that it comes across as comically, not prestigious. By nature, the more belts there are, the less important any specific belt is and at this point, most championships are reduced to props in AEW. For example, Wheeler Yuta is a very talented athlete, but does the Ring of Honor Pure title really do anything to make him seem like a bigger star? There was already some speculation that this was booked to set up another FTR vs. Young Bucks match with all the belts on the line, but again, there are so many belts on AEW programming, I’m honestly not sure a winner-take-all for three sets of tag belts would be that much bigger than a standard contest for the AEW Tag Team Championships. Furthermore, if FTR drop the IWGP Tag Team championships before they get the chance to go to Japan then the entire title switch was more or less pointless.

Pac beat Clark Connors, Miro, and Malakai Black to win the All-Atlantic championship, and much like the titles mentioned so far, this belt means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Sure, Pac is obviously a championship level talent, but very similar to the ROH TV and Pure belts, I don’t think the All-Atlantic championship really elevates the wrestlers who wins it, especially for someone as talented as Pac. Unfortunately, the All-Atlantic title is another prop that will get lost in the shuffle within a few weeks.

The Dudes with Attitude defeated The Bullet Club in a really fun match. This type of contest is the stand alone bout that works really well because it was designed strictly to entertain the audience and accomplished the goal. The Bullet Club made Sting look like a million dollars, and somehow, even at 63, Sting can still project the baby face fire to pop a crowd. Shingo hit The Last Dragon on El Phantasmo to get the win.

Thunder Rosa defeated Toni Storm to retain the AEW Women’s championship in a really solid match. Hopefully, Rosa will get more TV time, particularly after this title defense showed why she’s one of the most well-rounded and marketable performers on the women’s roster. It was very disappointing that Rosa more or less ended up in the witness protection program after she won the title, but she undoubtedly has the talent to be a bigger star in AEW. Toni Storm is very good in the ring, but I don’t see a scenario where she doesn’t get lost in the shuffle in the organization.

Will Ospreay retained the IWGP US title when he pinned Orange Cassidy in what was probably the best “work rate” match on the card. I get that Cassidy has a shtick that got over with the audience, but when a match has the potential of this contest, there has to be a way to limit the comedy stuff to before the bell. Again, as far as athleticism, this segment might’ve stole the show, but the early comedy spots took away from an otherwise stellar match.

As soon as Bryan Danielson announced that he was injured and couldn’t compete at the pay-per-view, many thought that Claudio Castagnoli would be the replacement. The news was more or less confirmed before the show went on the air, but the former WWE star got a major reaction from the crowd in the building. He beat Zack Sabre in a decent match, but I will be honest, I expected more from this contest. For whatever reason, the bout had a rather clunky pace at some points and just didn’t get into second gear. It goes without say that Claudio is a tremendous wrestler that deserved much more of an opportunity than he was given in the WWE, but I sincerely don’t think that even booking him as an addition to the BCC is guaranteed success for him in AEW. It’s a repetitive statement, but there are so many guys on the roster that I wouldn’t be surprised if he faded into the background of segments on Dynamite within three weeks.

The IWGP championship match had a lot of great action and delivered a quality bout, which saw Jay White retain the title. However, the bigger story was that Adam Cole reportedly suffered a concussion and it’s not known how long he will be on the sidelines. As I’ve written in the past, I think Cole had the talent to be his generation’s version on Shawn Micheals, he’s that talented, and I’m not sure how the WWE missed the boat on him, especially when the original HBK works for the company. So, please keep in mind that I think Adam Cole is money and absolutely a main event level talent. That said, his tenure in All Elite so far has been rather underwhelming based on how he was booked and presented earlier in his run. The segments with The Bucks after his debut didn’t maximize the spotlight, but rather had him blend into the stable. The feud with Orange Cassidy didn’t do him any favors and made him just another guy on the roster. The title matches with Adam Page didn’t have nearly the amount of hype as the usual AEW championship bouts, partially because of how poorly Page was presented as champion. The point being, when Cole made his debut the same night as Danielson last year, while he didn’t have the star power of American Dragon, it’s fair to say that many assumed he would have a bigger role in the company since he was mentioned in the same conversation with CM Punk and Danielson. After almost a year in All Elite, is Adam Cole a bigger star than he was in the WWE? If not, the blame has to be put on Tony Khan because Cole has all the tools to be a top guy for the promotion.

Jon Moxley won the AEW Interim World title when he pinned Hiroshi Tanahashi. The match was fine, but the result was never in doubt, despite what some All Elite loyalist would’ve tried to tell you before the event. Again, there wasn’t anything wrong with the contest at all, but there was no investment in the action because it was obvious that Moxley was going to win the title at the pay-per-view. The extended brawl afterwards was unnecessary and gave the broadcast a rather flat conclusion. Overall, the Forbidden Door pay-per-view was a solid show that gave a niche demographic their money’s worth, but it wasn’t the historic event that some thought it might be when the show was originally announced. Obviously, that was because of the unbelievable amount of injuries that affected the card, but the point being is that the results of the show were mostly an exhibition that didn’t necessarily have a major impact on the company.

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Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

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