Best and Worst Booking Decisions of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2022 Card
Despite many injuries changing the card from what it was supposed to be, AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door was a rousing success.
Arguably one of the best events of the year for either All Elite Wrestling or New Japan Pro-Wrestling, it was a thrill ride from start to finish, with just a few bumps along the way.
As the dust settles, let's look back on what transpired and break down the standout moments—for better or worse—that made Sunday's event what it was.
Here are the best and worst booking decisions from the pay-per-view.
Worst: Danhausen's Appearance
Danhausen's entire gimmick is being odd, but there's a difference between something being strange and something that would make fans ask "What was that about?"
One of the only things on this event that can be questioned was his contribution to the show, when he appeared on the screen and cued up a theme for The Ass Boys after The Acclaimed had arrived.
For whatever reason, this sparked Austin and Colten Gunn to run to the back and never come out again, leaving Billy Gunn and Max Caster to wrestle a 4-on-2 handicap match.
They ultimately won, so it wasn't even used as an excuse to have the New Japan foursome win due to a numbers advantage.
It seems more like AEW wanted to do something with Danhausen, had nothing else in mind and figured sacrificing Austin and Colten wouldn't matter, which is sad.
Best: Claudio Castagnoli Replaces Bryan Danielson
The card is always subject to change, but any promoter who cares about the fans will try to find an equal or better replacement.
Thankfully, despite Bryan Danielson being medically disqualified to compete, Tony Khan was able to get Claudio Castagnoli to fill in for him, resulting in one of the biggest pops of the night and a fantastic match.
To no surprise, the former Cesaro was a spectacle, showing off his strength and skills that went underappreciated by WWE management for years. He will be a much better fit in AEW, where his talent will be on full display.
This also means the Swiss star be a major player in the Blood & Guts match coming up this Wednesday on Dynamite.
Best: FTR Walk Out with Both Tag Team Titles
Not to besmirch Roppongi Vice and United Empire, but FTR were the clear fan-favorite choice to be victorious in the Winners Take All tag team title match.
All three teams put on a great contest, but the story was really whether FTR would win. That had some doubt cast upon it when Dax Harwood had to leave the contest early due to injury, but his return riled fans up in one of the biggest moments of the night.
He and Cash Wheeler are among the best tag teams the business has seen in years. They should keep up this trend of traveling between companies and wrestling the best opponents possible.
Now that they're holding another set of titles, the door is open to many other dream matches with appearances on New Japan events in the future, as well as possibly a major title defense at Wrestle Kingdom in January 2023, if they're still champions then.
By having them win this match, it shows New Japan recognizes their value and AEW is willing to let them travel to help out both companies and give fans plenty of amazing matches to come.
Best: PAC Wins AEW All-Atlantic Championship
As the relatively unknown replacement for Tomohiro Ishii, Clark Connors stood the least chance to win the inaugural AEW All-Atlantic Championship, so it made perfect sense he was the one to tap out to crown the new champion.
And any of the three other challengers could have been justified as winners. Malakai Black is no slouch, Miro had something great going with his TNT Championship reign that is worth revisiting, and PAC has been with AEW since the beginning.
Although many fans will likely be disappointed Miro didn't leave with the gold, the bright side is PAC. He went from being a main event level star in AEW's early days to falling further and further down the ladder as time went on.
Capturing the All-Atlantic Championship is a massive boost to his credibility. Now, The Bastard has etched his name in AEW history and can dictate the level this belt will be perceived.
The company isn't going to want this to become a worthless belt, either, so he'll be booked well and fans can look forward to more wins coming his way.
Best: Jay White Retains While Jon Moxley Becomes Interim Champion
Speaking of champions, the right call was made for the IWGP world heavyweight and the AEW world titles to end up around the waists of Jay White and Jon Moxley, respectively.
As the top titles in each promotion, they had to stay in-house to avoid the logistical nightmare of lengthy trips to make title defenses.
White pinning Adam Cole was also the right call. It's a shame Cole was seemingly injured in the process, but the game plan was still an interesting finish that sets up an Undisputed Elite vs. Bullet Club match down the line.
For the main event, Moxley bled profusely and ensured Hiroshi Tanahashi wasn't a pushover. It came across as both men could win, only for the AEW star to be better on the night.
Rounding out this list are a few other booking decisions worth calling attention to.
On the worst side of things, there wasn't much else, but here are some nitpicks:
- The connection between Thunder Rosa and Dustin Rhodes shouldn't be the focal point of her title reign. Having her win against Toni Storm with one of his moves does more for his involvement in her run than it does for Rosa. It was also a flat ending for a feud that wasn't exactly red-hot to begin with.
- Was Lance Archer supposed to be viewed as an NJPW representative in his match against Nick Comoroto? Considering Archer is on the AEW roster, this felt more like a Dark: Elevation bout than something justified for Sunday. Teaming with Taka Michinoku or Taichi against one or two from AEW would have made more sense.
Praiseworthy moments include:
- Swerve Strickland accidentally kicking Keith Lee so he can be taken down a peg during their match was a great call. It furthers the tension between them and allowed Suzuki-gun to have a more even offense against the big man.
- Katsuyori Shibata's appearance was one of the biggest pops of the night.
- Blood & Guts and War Games always work better when the heels have the advantage. The Jericho Appreciation Society needed that and their win over Eddie Kingston, Wheeler Yuta and Shota Umino was well-designed.
- Umino was built up well during the match to prevent him looking weak in taking the pinfall.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, Spotify and everywhere you find podcasts. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.