Forbidden Door is surely one of the wrestling events of the year. It may be the best of the year when the dust has settled.
It was successful from beginning to end. No duds, no fairly good, no fatuous angles.
And we learned some very interesting things…
This Is The Fight Back
I know I’ve been banging on for ages about this, but I believe that this is the beginning of the modern-day territories.
Remember, those territorial promotions and the NWA they were affiliated to, were decimated by the long reach and financial clout of the WWF.
And although we don’t have the geographical areas of activity in the same way anymore, this is a similar idea.
Smaller companies work together to create power. AEW are punching above their weight and this is extraordinary, they are thought of as a direct rival to the WWE and yet they are probably not level pegging just yet.
With help though, they could be. And so Forbidden Door was an NJPW combination, but that links into ROH and Impact too.
1 is the loneliest number. Banding together is the way forward.
Jay White Is An Extraordinary Worker
We knew that, didn’t we? Yep, and the Forbidden Door match for his IWGP World Heavyweight Championship in a 4 way with Adam Cole, Adam Page, oh, and former champ Kazuchika Okada was just amazing.
The double Delayed Vertical Suplex on the plastic walkway, the Superkick to the mush of Page from Cole as Hangman came off the top, the seemingly down and out White after tasting a Buckshot Lariat being saved by his enemy Okada.
And the sudden Blade Runner and pin to an already weakened opponent to take the pin.
Not stolen, no, but entirely in keeping with his always ready, playing the business with excellent wresting thrown in character.
That wasn’t all. In the post-match press Forbidden Door conference, with Tony Khan sitting by his side, he cut a bad-tempered figure, not as angry as he had been after the win against Okada, but pretty outraged that no one was on hand to place his championship belt in the plastic display holder.
He was right, it wasn’t acceptable and Khan seemed mortified – Jay assured him several times it wasn’t his fault. He mentioned the issues several times though, including when asked if this was a one-shot deal with AEW or whether he would be back.
Tony Khan looked a little shell-shocked and the whole thing could be a work, but if it is, it’s a bloody phenomenal one.
No one sees wrestling like Jay White at the moment.
The Worst Kept Secret Got One Of The Biggest Pops
Claudio Castagnoli. The crowd loved him. They even groaned when his Swing was countered.
But no one could have been disappointed by the match. Putting him with Zack Sabre Jr allowed mat work and joint manipulation to sit side by side with power – like this;
Zack locked in an armbar, Claudio lifted him, and they both went over the top rope but Zack held on, so Claudio lifted him again, walked up the ring steps with him, and dumped him into the ring.
And by making Castagnoli a member of the Blackpool Combat Club, AEW is saying to fans that they acknowledge the shared frustration with his lack of action whilst confirming that this man is a wrestler and will be allowed to be one.
Orange Cassidy Can Wrestle
I put this here because, with such a heavy gimmick, I keep forgetting. I was at least happy to see Will Ospreay in action at Forbidden Door, but only that.
Imagine my shock when Cassidy and Ospreay, when AEW, had me believing several times that Orange might win; that they mat out the IWGP US title on him for a spell.
The Slumdog Millionaire and peppy Michinoku Driver for a long 2, the Diving DDT for a very long 2, the Beach Break for the extremely long 2; all these things made a believer out of me.
Ospreay’s eyes pop out of his head after the OsCutter kick out and almost stalks after a similar outcome for the Hidden Blade.
Yes, Ospreay won and that was right, but Orange was a real star here too.
Even Jericho Couldn’t Mess Up That Opening Match
You know I have a little down on Chris Jericho on AEW at the moment. He has a faction that seems like a poor retread of the Inner Circle. His usual sparky commentary is much lacking on Rampage and I have a concern that the program with Eddie Kingston gave Jericho a rub from the more over Kingston (at the time).
What couldn’t be overshadowed at Forbidden Door were the combinations. Wheeler Yuta hanging with Jericho, then Umino hitting a great series on ‘the Wizard’ – Avalanche Powerslam, Tornado DDT, Brainbuster, then the Walls! Kingston puts Suzuki down with his spinning Backfist but Suzuki gets revenge with a Gotch Style Piledriver.
Jericho got the pin with the Judas Effect. And you know what? It didn’t matter.
Other Things I Learned At Forbidden Door
FTR, who won the IWGP titles from Cobb & O-Khan in a Forbidden Door shock during a fast-paced match with Roppongi Vice too will be a great addition to NJPW and I can’t wait to see the tussles they have.
Thunder Rosa is rough, tough and talented as hell. She retained her Women’s Title after shaking off a Toni Storm suplex on the apron and DDT off it, then another DDT back in the ring. Storm may have thought that was it, but that twisting Brainbuster, the Final Reckoning, secured the win.
Very fine match.
PAC finally got a title at Forbidden Door. That Atlantic title thing, which seems to be an excuse to put loads of talent not burdened with gold against each other.
That’s fine when Miro can show his power, Black can blow his mist, Connors can almost steal the pin and PAC can hit the 450 and the Brutaliser for the pin.
You deserve it, you deserve it…
Sting is now TheIconSting. Don’t just call him Sting, oh no. He is 63. And yet he made his entrance by diving on the Bucks from the top of the good guy tunnel.
That Sting was allowed to walk through a Superkick Party and hit both Bucks with a double Scorpion Death Drop before collapsing has to be questioned, but AEW allows him to just delight us enough.
And how does Darby Allin hit a suplex from the Tree Of Woe? How? That isn’t possible, surely? Also, El Phantasmo delighted in entertaining us and Shingo hit a Pop Up Death Valley Driver and Last Of The Dragon for the pin.
Frenetic and thoroughly entertaining.
And 2 more:
Mox bled, they went back and forth beautifully and tested each other within their limits, Tana came back from the Mox choke and he couldn’t put the Paradigm Shift on but hit the Death Rider (of course) for the pin.
And what I learned most is wrestling when it hits its stride, is just prestige entertainment and the events that deliver it are sleek vehicles of delight. Forbidden Door was just that.
And this is the beginning of the fight back. I’m calling it.