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An AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door Quickstart Guide

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Thinking about diving into the historic June 26 pay-per-view (PPV) Forbidden Door, but don’t follow either of the companies putting today’s show at the United Center in Chicago?

This is the post for you, designed to give you everything you need to know to enjoy tonight’s show.

How can I watch?

The three match, hour-long pre-show The Buy In will stream live and free starting at 7pm Eastern/4pm Pacific on All Elite’s YouTube channel (and right here at Cageside Seats).

The nine match main card is available as a pay-per-view on Bleacher Report and via cable & satellite providers in the U.S. & Canada for $49.99, and on everywhere else for $19.99 (US).

What’s on the card? What do I need to know?

Before we give you a quick look at each individual match, know that generally this is a show that’s much more about match quality than storylines. The title matches have a little more depth to them, and AEW and New Japan have done a decent job tying their own angles into some of the cross-promotional bouts. But each only has a few weeks worth of build, and some competitors have only interacted once — if at all.

Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

The story: CM Punk won the AEW World title at Double or Nothing, and was set to make his first big defense at Forbidden Door. Then he got hurt. The two companies held a mini-tournament to decide on an interim title bout for this show, and ended up with a match New Japan’s been teasing for a long time. Mox is one of AEW’s top stars, but he’s also been an NJPW regular since leaving WWE. A match with Tanahashi, an all-time great who’s been called New Japan’s John Cena, is something he’s been openly campaigning for all year.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: To see who gets the interim AEW World title, and a date with Punk when his leg heals.

Jay White vs. Hangman Page vs. Kazuchika Okada vs. Adam Cole

The story: Switchblade Jay White just won the IWGP World Heavyweight title (New Japan’s top prize) from Okada at Dominion a couple weeks ago. He’s the current leader of Bullet Club, which Adam Cole & Hangman Page used to be a members of, and which Cole believes his Undisputed Elite group is still allied with.

Page wanted a shot at the IWGP prize after losing AEW’s top title to Punk, and called his old G1 Climax (an iconic, month long round robin tournament that helps set-up the main event of New Japan’s biggest show each year) rival Okada out back when he was still champ. Cole hoped White would give him a singles title shot out of faction loyalty. Hangman didn’t care who he got. Okada, NJPW’s current Ace and widely considered one of the best pro wrestlers in the world, showed up last Wednesday to make it a 4way dance.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: Who’s leaves with the least popular belt design in wrestling? Seriously, the title has been an object of scorn since it was introduced when Kota Ibushi unified the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental championships after beating White at Wrestle Kingdom (the aforementioned biggest show, which is essentially New Japan’s WrestleMania) last year.

Will Ospreay vs. Orange Cassidy

The story: Opreay is a polarizing figure who fancies himself one of the best in the business. He’s sought to prove that in the ring, and in Twitter beefs, for years. Cassidy can go with the best of them... when he cares enough to.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: Will’s officially the IWGP United States champion, but he doesn’t have a belt because Bullet Club’s Juice Robinson has refused to surrender it after New Japan stripped him of it after he skipped a defense due to injury. This match will be for that title.

Thunder Rosa vs. Toni Storm

The story: The only women’s match on the show (New Japan does not have a women’s division. They do have a sister promotion, Stardom, that is exclusively women’s wrestling, and their mutual owner has hinted Stardom could be involved in future cross-promotional shows, but not this one). Both are babyfaces who’ve had each other’s backs in run-ins with heels. During those, they’ve made it clear they both want the belt Rosa currently holds.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: That belt Rosa currently holds, the AEW Women’s World championship.

FTR vs. Jeff Cobb & Great O-Khan vs. Roppongi Vice

The story: The build for this show started when Cobb & O-Khan (of the New Japan stable United Empire, which is led by Ospreay) crashed a Ring of Honor Tag title match between FTR & Roppongi Vice. They’ve since won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag titles, and both will be on the line here.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: It’s winner takes all, so who leaves with both Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler’s ROH straps and United Empire’s IWGP ones. FTR is arguably AEW’s hottest act right now, which is worth keeping in mind here, too.

PAC vs. Miro vs. Malakai Black vs. Clark Connors

The story: A mini-tournament decided who would be in this 4way match to crown the first ever AEW All-Atlantic champion. Connors, a “Young Lion” from New Japan’s California dojo, lost the NJPW tourney final, but replaced the winner Tomohiro Ishii after he was injured.

On the AEW side, Black’s House of Black and PAC’s Death Triangle have been feuding FOREVER. Miro plans to use this match to send a message to the god he believes has forsaken him.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: That All-Atlantic title, and the honor of being the first man to hold it.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. the newest member of Blackpool Combat Club

The story: This was going to be Sabre Jr. vs. Bryan Danielson to determine who the best technical wrestler in the world is, but Danielson isn’t medically cleared, so he’s bringing in a hand-picked replacement to lock up with the gifted Brit.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: A whole lot of marking out if the mystery wrestler is who everyone thinks it is (Claudio “Cesaro” Castignoli). A whole lot of kvetching if it’s not.

Eddie Kingston, Shota Umino & Wheeler Yuta vs. Chris Jericho, Minoru Suzuki & Sammy Guevara

The story: Kingston has been trying to kill Jericho since he used his “Wizard” powers to burn him with a fireball. He and Blackpool Combat Club’s Yuta will be on the Blood & Guts team that goes up against the Jericho Appreciation Society next week on Dynamite. Umino is Mox’s New Japan protege, and Suzuki is a violent middle-aged man who never needs an excuse to fight.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: The winner gets the entry advantage in Blood & Guts.

Sting, Darby Allin & Shingo Takagi vs. Bullet Club (The Young Bucks & El Phantasmo)

The story: An attack led by The Bucks’ injured Undisputed Elite ally Kyle O’Reilly wrote Sting out of action for a while. The Icon is back, but O’Reilly is hurt (and one of Darby & Sting’s planned teammates from New Japan’s Los Ingobernables de Japon stable, Hiromu Takahashi, is sick, and it might also be worth mentioning LIJ is an offshoot of the lucha libre group founded by AEW’s Andrade El Idolo & Rush, who can’t work this show due to politics between the two big Mexican promotions, one of which works with AEW and the other that partners with NJPW... phew).

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: How Matt & NIck Jackson get along with the representatives from their old stable. But this is mostly just a way to get these big names on the card.

Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

The story: Swerve & Lee are having trouble trusting each other after Strickland eliminated his partner from the Casino Battle Royale during the interim AEW World title tournament. They’ll try to get on the same page while facing the four-time four time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champs.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: If you’ve never seen Desperado wrestle, you’re in for a treat.

Gunn Club (Billy, Colten, & Austin Gunn) & Max Caster vs. The DKC, Kevin Knight, Alex Coughlin & Yuya Uemura

The story: A group of young up-and-comers from one company face a group of young up-and-comers from the other.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: Caster’s entrance rap, whether or not Anthony Bowens and Billy Gunn scissor each other after it.

QT Marshall & Aaron Solo vs. Hirooki Goto & Yoshi-Hashi

The story: A couple undercarders from one company face a couple veterans from the other.

What to watch for other than novelty and star ratings: Hopefully they have a fun twist up their sleeve for this pre-show match, or it’s probably not even worth watching for novelty and star ratings.

There you go. There’s at least a little more to each match, but this is really all you need to be ready for Forbidden Door.

If you need more, The Countdown To Forbidden Door special which aired on TNT Friday night is embedded above, and we also have predictions from the entire staff here.

If this convinced you to watch the show, or even if it didn’t, join us in our results post tonight!

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