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Why You Can Expect AEW Forbidden Door to Deliver Despite Slew of Injuries

Philip LindseyJune 24, 2022

Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

This weekend, some of the top stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling will descend on the United Center in Chicago to take on the best All Elite Wrestling has to offer at Forbidden Door. This cross-promotional event is a moment many fans have fantasized about since 2019.

After all, many members of the AEW roster made a name for themselves with NJPW. However, this highly anticipated show has endured its share of setbacks over the past few months.


A String of Bad Luck

First and foremost, it’s hard to imagine such a monumental event without Kenny Omega. The Best Bout Machine was the biggest star to jump ship from New Japan and join the new company three years ago. As such, most of us hoped to see him take center stage as the face of the working relationship between the two parties.

Unfortunately, the former IWGP heavyweight champion hasn’t appeared on television in eight months because of injuries. This is a massive blow to the upcoming show because Omega was the most marketable name to both American and Japanese fans. Having him on the card would’ve solidified this partnership and laid the groundwork for some exciting matchups.

Yes, The Cleaner could still make a surprise appearance. AEW even seemingly teased this on the most recent episode of Being the Elite, but it’s still disappointing that he won’t play a bigger role in the festivities.

Even worse, CM Punk suffered an injury three days after he won the AEW World Championship at Double or Nothing. This put a damper on his first world title win since 2011. It also guaranteed that he wouldn’t be able to compete at Forbidden Door in front of his hometown crowd.

Obviously, crowning him champion would’ve been an excellent way to capitalize on his popularity and allow him to headline such a major event at the United Center. It would’ve been a fitting homecoming for the straight-edge star, who debuted at the same venue last August.

Nevertheless, the hits just kept coming as Bryan Danielson revealed that he wasn’t cleared to wrestle on the latest episode of AEW Dynamite. This means The American Dragon won’t be able to compete in what could’ve been the best match on the card with Zack Sabre Jr. The two top technical wrestlers would have undoubtedly put on a clinic.

Danielson’s absence is almost as discouraging as Omega’s because working with NJPW talent was one of the main reasons he joined the company. Now, he will have to watch from the sideline as his mystery replacement locks up with ZSJ instead.

That’s not all. Scorpio Sky, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Anthony Bowens, Buddy Matthews, Darius Martin, Lee Johnson, Red Velvet, and Skye Blue are all out of action, as well.

The injury bug also bit New Japan, as Tomohiro Ishii was forced to drop out of the fatal four-way for the All-Atlantic Championship. His opponent from his qualifying match, Clark Connors, will step in to take his place.

AEW Can Make The Best of This Situation

Injuries have taken a toll on the entire industry this summer, but it couldn’t have happened at a worse time for AEW and NJPW. However, Forbidden Door could still shape up to be a great show.

Luckily, Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the Interim AEW World Championship is still an excellent centerpiece. Honestly, this matchup should’ve been on the card in the first place because Mox has been calling for it for so long.

The former IWGP United States champion has also been instrumental in this partnership since he joined AEW. His work in Japan before the pandemic was exceptional. He also took part in some notable New Japan Strong matches in the U.S., such as his showdown with KENTA last February or his acclaimed encounter with Will Ospreay at Windy City Riot earlier this year.

Mox also took on a who’s who list of NJPW stars on AEW programming, including Yuji Nagata, Satoshi Kojima and Minoru Suzuki. Tanahashi has remained in his sights the entire time, and the 36-year-old has truly earned the chance to share the ring with the Ace. This could be a blessing in disguise because this match was long overdue, and Forbidden Door is the perfect location for it.

Jay White and Kazuchika Okada are also great additions to this show following their incredible title match at Dominion on June 12. The Switchblade seemed like a lock for this show after he and Adam Cole hijacked the announcement in April. It also seemed fitting for Bullet Club to have a big presence at the event because the stable’s popularity led to All In, the birthplace of AEW.

The company kept The Rainmaker close to the vest all the way up the go-home episode of Dynamite, but Okada was a no-brainer. The most dominant champion of the modern era is NJPW’s top star, and it would be hard to imagine a cross-promotional event without him.

The build to this weekend’s IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match has been a bit lackluster, but it still features four stars who can produce. Cole, Okada, White, and Adam Page will probably tear the house down despite the steps it took to get them in the ring together.

Danielson won’t be able to compete, but his mystery replacement will be one of the most talked-about entries. One could argue that AEW does the surprise reveal too much, but there are so many strong options to keep viewers speculating until Sunday. It could turn out to be a memorable moment ahead of a phenomenal match with ZSJ.


A Solid Show for the First Outing

It’s easy to be skeptical about this show when injuries have raised a black cloud over it and the build has been fairly rushed. There’s also a rumor that Andrade El Idolo and Rey Fenix weren’t allowed to wrestle at Forbidden Door because of their connection with CMLL However, there’s still a lot to like about this card.

Orange Cassidy vs. Ospreay stands out as a sleeper pick for the match of the night. Yes, the pairing seems a bit arbitrary, and we were possibly robbed of a better bout with El Idolo. Regardless, this is a fresh matchup between two guys who can go and we expect them to try to steal the show on Sunday.

The Winner Takes All Match for the ROH Tag Team Championship and IWGP Tag Team Championship also seems like one to keep an eye on. FTR has been on an amazing run this year, and it’s safe to assume that they will create magic with United Empire and Roppongi Vice.

Thunder Rosa vs. Toni Storm will also probably exceed expectations. La Mera Mera’s reign has been kind of underwhelming since she dethroned Britt Baker at St. Patrick's Day Slam. Nevertheless, her title defenses have been superb so far. For example, she and Serena Deeb arguably delivered the best performance at Double or Nothing.

Storm has already added so much to the women’s division as a standout during her time in Japan. The 2017 Cinderella Tournament and 5 Star Grand Prix winner was the first to win both tournaments in the same year and a former World of STARDOM champion. It has been fun to watch her regain her confidence following her stint with WWE, and this match with Rosa will be an excellent test for her.

The All-Atlantic Championship match looks promising, too, but the eight-man tag match has so much potential. Bullet Club vs. The Dude with Attitude pits Darby Allin, Sting, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi against The Young Bucks, El Phantasmo and Hikuleo. That’s an incredible wealth of talent in the ring together.

Some mainstream fans may not be familiar with Los Ingobernables de Japon, and it's a shame that Tetsuya Naito won’t be on hand. Still, look for Takahashi and Takagi to impress new fans. Meanwhile, El Phantasmo’s humor and high-flying offense will fit exceptionally well with Matt and Nick Jackson’s trademark style.

This isn’t a perfect scenario. AEW and NJPW have had to get through some bumps in the road but Forbidden Door still looks like a fun show. We would bet there will be some jaw-dropping surprises and breathtaking in-ring action during this inaugural event.

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