Wednesday, September 6, 2023

AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door 2023

(I had this in the can, so might as well put it out before the shows people would rather hear me talk about.)

You'll have to forgive the longer than usual wait for this thing. I had intended to have this up much earlier, but apparently, the draft that I wrote for this was misplaced and the post that had published came up empty. So I ended up re-writing a lot of the notes that I had before and that's why you're only getting this now.

So I skipped out on Double Or Nothing. The card just didn't seem that interesting on paper. I almost skipped out on Forbidden Door and didn't bother to catch the show live, but I eventually bought the replay for one specific reason and that is to help Tony Khan make back some of that money that he spent on Final Countdown. Call it a fleeting moment of charity.

On with the show, I guess...

Tony Khan secured rights to The Final Countdown for Bryan Danielson to come out to in his match with Okada. Then Bryan Danielson broke his arm during said match with Okada. So I guess Tony Khan saved himself some money because he won't have to play it anymore until All In or something... oh waut.

In any event, I missed out on the Forbidden Door show when it aired, but learning about said song being licensed prompted me to give it a go. If nothing else, it'd be nice to write about a current wrestling PPV event, especially one that I found myself enjoying for the most part. Certainly a far deal better than having to endure shitty TNA PPVs from 20 years and while the WWF 2000 PPVs provided slightly more entertainment, I wouldn't have minded a break from that as well for the sake of doing a write-up on the second collaborative PPV between All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling.

However, when it came time to actually write something about this show, my mind was a blank. The most I could come up with was a quick blurb that would end up being an answer to an email that I used for the mailbag edition of the DTM-Cast. That blurb, for those who would rather not dive into an audio program of sorts, is as follows:

"I actually bought the replay and yeah, that was a great show. Danielson/Okada was a tremendous match considering Danielson fractured his arm and still kept going... the fact that they actually snagged the rights to Final Countdown made it special, because that song is notoriously expensive to get the rights to, so that made it somewhat special. Omega/Ospray was a spectacle that I'm sure Meltzer's going to give a billion stars because that's the sort of hardon that he has for that pairing. Jungle Boy turning into a Jungle Man, blinding siding Hook which got a huge negative reaction and ol' Jack Perry just drank it in, baby... so that's something to look forward to."

So I set it aside and continued with the usual stuff... and then I watched the show again recently and once again, I had the same problem as before; I liked the show, but not enough to actually write anything substantial... which is funny because there were plenty of PPV musings - especially in regards to PPVs from twenty to thirty years ago - where I would say almost nothing beyond a couple lines for each match. Because these musings are not recaps or reviews; I just talk about stuff that I've seen and add whatever comes to mind.

A couple days ago, I gave the show yet another watch to refresh my memory... and turns out I've got quite a bit to say about this show... such as the sound mixing being utterly atrocious. The crowd in particular seemed somewhat muted and not quite as loud as they should be. Well, it's either a bad mix or a bad crowd because this took place in Toronto.

So when all was said and done, this is what I thought of the show... in slightly greater detail than I had before, but not as much as I would've liked.

AEW World Champion Maxwell Jacob Friedman defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi via punch to the face with diamond ring to retain the title in a fine little opening contest. MJF is a far better worker than people give him credit for and while some were down on Tanahashi and claiming he might have lost a step or two, I thought he came across fine. No complaints about this opening contest other than this is the last time we'll see proper heel MJF before he dives into the whole Adam Cole business.

CM Punk defeated Satoshi Kojima to advance in the Owen Hart tournament that was eventually won by Ricky Starks. There's a couple callbacks to his earlier ROH stuff that some folks pointed and the crowd reaction... well, it's going to be largely mixed going forward unless he's in Chicago... but the match itself was pretty fun and entertaining. Gee whiz, I hope Punk doesn't do anything stupid like hurt himself or get into backstage fights so that we can continue this run a bit longer... oh wait.

International Champion Orange Cassidy defeated Zack Sabre Jr, Daniel Garcia, and Katsuyori Shibata in a fun little four-way MOVES match to retain the title. Funny how the guy with the pockets is having the best title run in 2023, but let's praise the guy who's held the toy belt over a thousand days and has done fuck all with it.

IWGP World Heavyweight Champion SANADA defeated Jungle Jack Boy Perry to retain the title... and Jack reacts by turning on HOOK, who was seconding him during this match. Oh, hot damn, now you've done it, Jack. You've pissed off HOOK. Gee whiz, I hope you don't anything stupid by crying a river over someone not letting you use real glass or something... oh wait. Anyway, the match was fine.

Eddie Kingston, Tomohiro Ishii, The Young Bucks & Hangman Page defeated El Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, ROH World Champion Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Shota Umino & Konosuke Takeshita) in the big ten-man party match that has more than enough moves and violence to satisfy that itch. Some people claimed this dragged out, but I didn't mind this all that much. Stuff was happening for the most part even if we weren't getting a finish anytime soon. So long as I'm engaged and not dozing off, I'm okay with a long match. More than good enough for me.

AEW World Women’s champion Toni Storm defeated Willow Nightingale in a pretty decent match to retain the title. Willow's part of the NJPW Strong roster, so there's that crossover aspect that the last women's match lacked in last year's show. It's a little thing, but it's something I noticed.

Will Ospreay defeated IWGP U.S. Champion Kenny Omega to win the title and earn another ten-star rating from Dave Meltzer... it's okay... that's all... it's just... okay...

Seriously, though, this was a fun spectacle. I enjoyed this one tremendously. Taken as that, it scratched that itch quite nicely.

Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito defeated Chris Jericho, Minoru Suzuki & Sammy Guevara in the downer match... no, seriously, even with the shit sound mix, the crowd seemed a bit muted. After the last match, I can't say I blame them... the match had its moments, but it was just background noise. A shame, really.

Bryan Danielson defeated Kazuchika Okada via submission with A BROKEN FREAKIN' NECK ARM. Yeah, so Danielson broke his arm at some point and kept going... because that's what a megalomaniac like Danielson would do. People will reap praise with Omega/Ospreay and there's no argument with that being the best match on the card... but I liked this match better. Sometimes, you want to be wowed by big moves and such... and sometimes, you just want one guy to beat the living piss out of the other guy and that's what we got here. Sucks that Danielson would be sidelined with a broken arm and I'm sure there'll be plenty of debates as to whether the match should've continued, but the fact is that it did continue and it was fun while it lasted.

And yes, Tony Khan took up ten mortgages to pay for Final Countdown, which got a bit of a pop from this paltry Toronto crowd... maybe not enough people mentioned Toronto or something and that's why the reaction was lukewarm.

So yes, that was Forbidden Door. Another fine AEW/New Japan show in a series of them.

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