A recent press call with AEW CEO Tony Khan has provided some exciting information about the upcoming Forbidden Door pay-per-view – and the relationship between AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling going forward.
To those not in the know, the ‘Forbidden Door’ in wrestling refers to the figurative barrier that exists between NJPW and the western wrestling companies. It came into being after relations between first NJPW and WWE, then NJPW and TNA broke down, and the door was shut, seemingly forever more.
Although this wasn’t the case, NJPW soon began working with Ring of Honor in a fruitful relationship that peaked when both companies sold-out Madison Square Garden at the G1 Supercard on WrestleMania weekend 2019. This was an event that worried WWE so much, that they moved their annual pre-Mania NXT Takeover PPV to the night before the event to not compete with it.
Sadly, the creation of AEW, the exodus of the Bullet Club ‘Elite’ from ROH/NJPW, and the COVID-19 pandemic halted this momentum. The Forbidden Door wasn’t closed, but it was left ajar, waiting for someone else to grasp the handle.
This would turn out to be AEW founder, booker and CEO Tony Khan, who flung the door wide open and even started referring to himself as ‘The Forbidden Door’ at one stage.
While NJPW continued working with ROH and even recently re-established their relationship with Impact (formally TNA), an arrangement with AEW is what got many fans excited. Once Tony Khan purchased Ring of Honor, a long-time collaborator with NJPW, a relationship between AEW and NJPW was truly cemented.
The Forbidden Door pay-per-view is the culmination of this journey and the first major co-hosted event between both promotions. It could even be seen as a follow-up to the G1 Supercard in many ways.
AEW injuries and card changes
Talking about the event during a recent press call, Tony Khan revealed his excitement for Forbidden Door, however, he admitted that a slew of injuries before the PPV has changed the shape of it significantly.
Although Khan said that there are “lots of stars in AEW and NJPW to fill the gaps,” and that in some cases, it’s allowed them to book other dream matches, such as Jon Moxley vs Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Khan said, “Mox has wanted to wrestle Tanahashi for so long. Before his match with Kojima, he cut more of a promo on Tanahashi than he did on Kojima.”
The AEW founder went on to talk about CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, who are also out after suffering injuries in recent weeks. Of course, CM Punk is the current AEW World Champion and was expected to defend his title against Tanahashi at Forbidden Door before Moxley filled this position.
Battle of the technical wizards
Danielson was originally scheduled to face New Japan’s Zack Sabre Jr. in what was intended to be a showcase between two of the best technical wrestlers in the world. Now, Danielson will be selecting a mystery opponent for ZSJ to face at Forbidden Door, with the former Cesaro the rumoured favourite to take his place.
Khan said, “Talk about a one-two punch of injury, losing CM Punk and Bryan Danielson. Bryan is so important to the company, both backstage and on screen. We had been hoping to build up Danielson vs Zack Sabre Jr. for so long. But if he’s not feeling 100%, there’s no sense in taking any chances. A mystery opponent gives us the chance to build something up.”
“I can’t wait to see Bryan Danielson and CM Punk come back, but I’m also so happy for Jon Moxley getting to face Tanahashi, something that means so much to both men. I’m also looking forward to revealing the mystery opponent, I think they’re going to have a great match.”
Interim champion to be crowned at Forbidden Door
When asked why CM Punk wasn’t asked to relinquish the AEW World Championship when he got injured, Khan revealed that the main reason is it creates some exciting long-term booking opportunities.
He said, “[Creating an interim champion is] how other major sports have designed their championships to be defended when the champion is not able to come in and fight right away. It also gives us the chance to set up a great unification fight against CM Punk, between either Mox or Tanahashi later down the road. Either way, it’ll be a great match. I think that’s really exciting.”
Khan was asked about how it feels to have celebrated NJPW wrestler Kazuchika Okada making his AEW debut, he said:
“I’m excited to have him there, it’s a huge honour to meet him and have him on AEW Dynamite. That is something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, long before I knew I was going to be in the wrestling business. It’s going to be great to see him compete for the IWGP title and seeing him try and win it back from Jay White.”
Bullet Club invade AEW
Jay White of course is the current holder of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the current leader of Bullet Club. He’ll be defending the title against Okada, Hangman Adam Page and Adam Cole at Forbidden Door.
Interestingly, White has also allowed the Young Bucks to re-join Bullet Club and team with El Phantasmo and Hikuleo at the event. The current AEW Tag Team Champions were ousted from the Club, along with the rest of the Elite, when White took over leadership in a brutal civil war within the stable. It will be fun to see if this extends beyond the pay-per-view.
Forbidden Door to be an annual event?
The biggest news from the press call is that Forbidden Door is intended to be a reoccurring PPV event, potentially becoming an annual collaboration between AEW and NJPW.
Khan revealed that “Forbidden Door 2 is already being discussed, we have a plan to do it again, so a sequel is to be expected. Hopefully, we’ll do many Forbidden Doors based on the success of this one.”
Khan was asked if next year’s event could see him booking the card he wanted to, without injury-causing so many changes, he responded by saying that injuries are always a possibility, but that AEW has “so many stars, that we can’t always get everyone on the show anyway.”
TK then revealed that he’s considering creating two-night PPV events, like WrestleMania and Wrestle Kingdom. Khan even praised both WWE and NJPW’s approach to two-night events, saying it’s a great way for more wrestlers to get a spot on the card.
More matches to be announced on Rampage
Finally, Khan revealed that more Forbidden Door matches are planned to be announced on tonight’s episode of AEW Rampage, and more could be added to the Buy-In, which normally has three matches but only has one so far.
AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door takes place at the United Center in Chicago at 8pm on June 26, 2022. It can be purchased from FITE TV.