I remember when Pay Per Views were special. When the WWF had only WrestleMania, Summerslam and then 2 new arrivals, the Royal Rumble and Survivor Series; this was special, as was Starrcade for NWA and WCW.
I also remember the furore when Vince McMahon announced a Pay Per View a Month, In Your House. People wanted to know more, which I suspect quickly turned into wanting to know less.
And now there are A PPVs and B PPVs. Wrestlemania is still special, but is Summerslam? Or the Royal Rumble? Not for me.
AEW, some may say, is doing it differently. Others may say they’re getting to a similar place. But one thing stands out.
Why is that? Well, there are the matches, of course, matches we want to see and thought we never would. This is the illicit thrill, the fantasy booking made flesh, the basis of many a pub discussion.
It was Hogan v Flair, of course, all those years ago, and they did finally meet, but by then we were over it and the matches weren’t what we expected or wanted.
It is a remarkable thing to have 2 large wrestling promotions working together so well but not linked strongly and also amazing that no one really wants to push the ‘link up or buy out’ story.
Of course, this is the 2nd Forbidden Door, so things have probably quietened down, but this loose collaboration has always been easier.
And so we had Zack Sabre Jr being applauded for his bridging covers, the sight of him and Shibata undertaking Abdominal Stretches but still slapping each other, the horrible intention of the joint manipulation and, well, just Zack Sabre Jr.
And Takeshita punched Ishii and knocked the Stone Pitbull down in such a way that Kevin Kelly on commentary asked for him to be attended to; an extraordinary Forbidden Door moment, which didn’t prevent Ishii from getting the pin with a Sheer Drop Brainbuster.
There were other Forbidden Door great moments, but let us concentrate on 2 amazing matches, I shall call them The Main Event and The Match That Should Have Been The Main Event
The Match That Should Have Been The Main Event
Kenny Omega. Will Ospreay.
Ospreay licked Omega’s blood off his arm and made sure the camera saw it.
Kid screaming ‘you suck’ at Ospreay, Will defiling the Canadian flag, Omega regaining some energy and choking him with it, giving it to a kid who screamed with surprise.
A screwdriver to Omega’s face in a One Winged Angel – yes, a screwdriver.
The crowd (and me) popped at Kenny’s foot on the ropes after a Hidden Blade and Stormbreaker.
The Ospreay win to capture the IWGP US title.
It told a story, which was of 2 wrestlers who were giving no quarter and expecting none.
It was stupendous.
The Main Event: The Rainmaker Vs The American Dragon
Follow that. Okada and Danielson couldn’t really, so they didn’t try to.
Their match seemed solid at the time, amazing now we know that Danielson wrestled 10 minutes of it with a broken arm.
Danielson even reached back with his music, coming out to ‘The Final Countdown’ and synching in a rather flat Cattle Mutilation.
After kicking out from a semi-Rainmaker, it was Danielson’s mega Crossface, which he held for so long it was past your bedtime when Okada tapped.
The work here was solid and the storytelling superb, but it didn’t hit the heights of what went just before it.
as Sports Illustrated reported:
‘It is rare to see Okada lose and almost shocking to see him lose by submission, which is how the finish occurred.’
But then it’s Okada and Danielson; who is going to put them anywhere but in the Forbidden Door main event?
A Special Event
Forbidden Door is special. And I think I know why. This event isn’t part of the sequence, the All In’s, Wrestle Kingdoms and the like. It feels like something outside of the world of both promotions, something with no consequences, something fun. Fun.
Remember that in wrestling?