Fantasy Booking a Dream Card with AEW, NJPW, Impact and Non-WWE Stars
It sounds cliched to say this, but the landscape of the professional wrestling industry completely changed heading into 2021. There is more parity in the United States than there has been in years, which creates more excitement for long-term viewers. This could be the perfect opportunity to showcase some new and unexpected matchups.
Following Kenny Omega’s world title win, All Elite Wrestling's presence on Impact programming has already opened the door for dream matches that many fans didn't think they would see any time soon.
What if we could see even more fantasy encounters with the hopes for a crossover with New Japan Pro-Wrestling still lingering among their fanbase? Many of us probably booked our ideal card when Chris Jericho introduced the idea of reopening the door between the companies, because the possibilities are endless.
So, let's take a look at how we would book a show featuring wrestlers from AEW, Impact and NJPW. Please feel free to comment below with the dream matches you would like to see.
Chris Bey vs. El Phantasmo
El Phantasmo was one of the highlights of night one of Wrestle Kingdom 15. He and Hiromu Takahashi put on a show at the event. The two-time Super J-Cup winner proved once again that his heelwork with Bullet Club is top-notch and his dazzling in-ring ability puts him in a category of his own.
Meanwhile, Chris Bey was Impact’s breakout star in 2019. The Ultimate Finesser took part in several excellent matches throughout the year but Dec. 12 was truly a star-making night for the 24-year-old. On that evening, he debuted with New Japan as a competitor in the Super J-Cup and took on Rich Swann in a historic main event for the Impact world championship.
Bey came up short at both events, losing in the semi-finals to ACH. However, he was undeniably the biggest star of a crowded weekend of wrestling. There is already hope that he will return to NJPW and ELP would be a perfect opponent.
After Bey’s loss, the two-time IWGP junior heavyweight tag team champion went on to defeat ACH to win the gold jacket for the second year in a row. So, it’s hard not to imagine what could’ve been if the former X-Division titleholder moved on to the finals instead.
Swole Family vs. Fire ‘N Flava
At Hard to Kill, Impact crowned its first Knockouts tag team champions in seven years when Kiera Hogan and Tasha Steelz defeated Havok and Neveah in the finals of the eight-team tournament. The Fire ‘N Flava are wildly entertaining and they were the best team available to re-establish the company's women’s tag team division.
Other independent promotions like Rise, Shine, Shimmer, and Stardom have a strong record of showcasing how good women’s tag team wrestling can be. So, it’s good to see that it has made its return to mainstream companies in a big way over the last year. That’s why Fire ‘N Flava vs. Swole Family belongs on this card.
Big Swole has made a name for herself with AEW but she has also made history as a tag team wrestler, as well. She and Aja Perera, NXT referee Aja Smith, became the first black women to hold the Shine Tag Team Championship in September 2019.
Swole also teamed with her longtime friend, Nicole Savoy aka Lil Swole, at Shimmer Volume 114 to challenge Cheerleader Melissa and Mercedes Martinez for the tag titles. The two reunited for the AEW Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament back in August.
If you’re wondering, yes, this is us nudging the company to sign Savoy as a full-time member of the roster because she is fantastic. More to the point, Swole Family could put on a fun match with Fire ‘N Flava and give the new champions an equally charismatic opponent.
Miro vs. Tomohiro Ishii
Miro and New Japan’s Tomohiro Ishii have a similar standing with their respective fanbase. They’re both fan favorites that many believe would make a great world champion but they have yet to secure a high-profile win.
Coincidentally, The Bulgarian Brute and the Stone Pitbull are also both massive men who can deliver hard-hitting matches. There is no doubt that they could produce something special in a first-time matchup. In fact, it would be interesting to see what Miro could do with NJPW and this could be the first glimpse of what that could look like.
On The New Day: Feel the Power, Big E ludicrously dubbed his dream match with Goldberg “big meaty men slapping meat.” The phrase has since become a hilarious description for similar bouts on the internet. If that is what you’re looking for on this card, then look no further because Ishii and Miro can give you that and more.
Proud and Powerful vs. the Guerillas of Destiny
Before Santana and Ortiz joined AEW, fans regarded them as one of the best tag teams in the world. The Puerto Rican wrestlers have worked together for nearly 10 years, debuting as EYFBO in 2012. They have held tag titles with several notable promotions but they’re probably the most well known for their time with Impact as LAX.
The four-time Impact world tag team champions have made their mark on the pro wrestling world. However, they haven’t ventured into Japan yet where they would’ve faced another team with a claim to the title of the best in the world, the Guerrillas of Destiny. Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa are fixtures in NJPW’s tag division. The real-life brothers have held the IWGP tag belts seven times and they landed at six on the 2020 PWI Tag Team 50 (Santana and Ortiz debuted at 16).
Of course, one could also make a strong case for FTR vs. G.O.D. for similar reasons, and their contrasting styles would make for an interesting matchup. There is no wrong answer here. Still, Santana and Ortiz in a ring with the Bullet Club OGs would make for a more fast-paced match. It would undoubtedly be a crowd-pleaser.
Orange Cassidy vs. Tetsuya Naito
On the surface, this sounds like a bizarre match, right? New Japan’s top anti-hero keeps up a calm, or Tranquillo, facade in the face of serious competition. Similarly, Orange Cassidy doesn’t give a maximum effort to every opponent, and his relaxed vibe has made him one of the most popular members of the AEW roster.
So, it would be cool to put them in a ring together and watch them aggravate each other with taunts and mind games. It would be like raising a mirror and showing them exactly how their opponents feel. The results will either be amazing or too niche for many fans to buy into.
Nevertheless, there’s no reason why this couldn’t make for a classic blend of traditional and comedy wrestling with the proper pacing. We also know that both Naito and Cassidy are great in-ring workers when they decide to take someone seriously. Also, the optic of the leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon making his way to the ring in a three-piece suit to find Cassidy wearing his usual Canadian tuxedo would make it all worth it.
Serena Deeb vs. Jordynne Grace
When you consider women’s matches for this card, Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jordynne Grace makes the most sense. We covered why this is a dream match we must see in 2021 two weeks ago.
For the sake of putting together something different here, the current NWA world women's champion is an obvious choice. Like The Virtuosa, Serena Deeb has revitalized her career since WWE released her in April. The 15-year veteran has been a fantastic addition to AEW’s women’s division, catching even some longtime fans by surprise.
Meanwhile, Jordynne Grace has been tremendous with Impact since she signed with the company in 2018. Her distinct look and strength also made this powerhouse a star as an indie wrestler. Thick Mama Pump has contributed excellent matches with a who’s who list of women wrestlers and she stood out at All In as a part of the 19-person Over Budget Battle Royale.
Grace could certainly create magic with someone as experienced as Deeb. After all, the former Knockouts champion has proven time and time again that she is versatile. If you've seen her matches with Taya Valkyrie or Purrazzo, you know she can work different types of matches.
Rich Swann vs. Kota Ibushi
It has been four years since Rich Swann and Kota Ibushi participated in WWE's Cruiserweight Classic in the summer of 2016. Their careers have gone in dramatically different directions since then but they’re both world champions at the moment.
Swann stayed with WWE following the tournament and eventually became the cruiserweight champion. After his release in 2018, the Baltimore native moved on to Impact where he won the X-Division title and made his way into the main event scene. At Bound for Glory 2020, the 29-year-old achieved the biggest win of his career when he defeated Eric Young for the company’s world championship.
Ibushi returned to New Japan in October 2016 after two and a half years and reformed the Golden Lovers with Kenny Omega in the following year. He started wrestling exclusively for NJPW in 2019 and started his quest to follow in the footsteps of his heroes Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura. He has since become the fourth wrestler in the history of the company to win back to back G1 Climax tournaments. At Wrestle Kingdom 15, he fulfilled his dream to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championship.
Swann and Ibushi never faced each other in the Cruiserweight Classic and given their success since it would be awesome to see them go one on one. The reigning Impact world champion has unfinished business with Omega too but this is a match that should also happen at some point.
“Hangman” Adam Page vs. Kazuchika Okada
“Hangman” Adam Page has made quite a turnaround since he signed with AEW. Most core fans knew that he was full of potential and an exceptional in-ring competitor. Now, he has added the character work that he was initially lacking.
There was no reason to doubt that he could go after his debut in the G1 Climax in 28. During the tournament, he had a breakout performance on night five in the main event against Kazuchika Okada. This was the first time Page headlined an NJPW event on his own and he proved his mettle in defeat.
The Rainmaker is arguably the best wrestler in the world. He’s objectively the most dominant world champion of the last decade. Page has yet to win a world title but he has evolved so much as a performer that it may be time for a rematch.
The 29-year-old deserves the chance to prove that he belongs in AEW’s main event scene but Okada’s legacy is already cemented. There’s no doubt that this could be an incredible match and there’s even a compelling story to tell.