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AEW / NJPW Forbidden Door match recommendations: Swiss classic

Bleacher Report

For full results, our man Manolo’s got you covered (check ‘em out here!) but for what you should be watching and what you can pass on, read on!

As always, I’ve got a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that’s worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.

Mind you, these are not star ratings. They’re not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you’re best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.

Chaos (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) vs. the Factory (Aaron Solo & QT Marshall)

How it went down: More a tag match in the western “heels get heat on a babyface before a hot tag and a comeback into the finish” style and less of the usual New Japan undercard “work through all the matchups and then bring things to a boil” style. The Factory put in a solid heat segment, The Chaos squad did the deal, it was fine but not especially all that entertaining.

Should you watch it?: This is a 1 on my scale for sure. It’s fine. You won’t hate it. You won’t love it. It’s completely unessential. Skip it!

Lance Archer vs. Nick Comoroto

How it went down: A high energy hoss fight from the jump, Archer in control early, Comoroto mounting increasing offense, the kind of match where the outcome is never in doubt but you’ll have an okay time.

Should you watch it?: I scoffed when I saw entrances for this match (a late addition to the card) start, but this ended up being a damn fine time and a nice solid 3 on my scale. Watch especially if you like seeing big boys clubber each other.

Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Swerve in Our Glory (“Limitless” Keith Lee & Shane “Swerve” Strickland)

How it went down: Starting off with Kanemaru trying to cut Lee down and then shifting to Swerve and Despy for a little bit more lucha libre. Heels working Lee’s leg over, Strickland gets the hot tag, and steadily on towards our finish.

Should you watch it?: This felt like it was really on the way to becoming something special in the early goings but it didn’t have enough time to really develop its themes. Thus, this is a 2. If you really, really love one of these dudes, have at it, but I was disappointed. If anything, the post-match Team Taz promo was more essential.

Alex Coughlin, Kevin Knight, the DKC, & Yuya Uemura vs. Ass Family (Austin, Billy, & Colten Gunn), & Max Caster

How it went down: Danhausen with a distraction for the Ass Boys, chaotic brawling on the floor, Dojo team in control for a long time but Ass Dad gets the tag and cleans house and we head right for our finish without ever once seeing an Ass Boy in action.

Should you watch it?: This was more fun than I expected. Still not fun enough to be a recommended match, but the Dojo kids got to strut their stuff, the heels being off-balance was a little off-model but it made for a good story, Billy got to wreck some dudes, solid stuff but still a 2.

Eddie Kingston, Shota Umino, & Wheeler YUTA vs. Minoru Suzuki & Sex Wizards (Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara)

How it went down: Rolling German suplexes from YUTA in the first minute and you know you’re in for a good time! Pure excellence with Kingston and Suzuki trading chops, Umino with a great hot tag, a HELLACIOUS fountain of dives, and a wonderful “everybody do something cool segment” headed into finish which is in and of itself beautifully executed.

Should you watch it?: This is just mile-a-minute action and a wonderful match. Hell of a way to start a show. Total must-watch, a 5.

FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) vs. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta) vs. UNITED EMPIRE (Great-O-Khan & Jeff Cobb)

How it went down: FTR holding court early on but Dax gets hurt and helped to the back and the Imperial Unit work him over until RPG Vice manage to get the tag and turn things into more or less a straight two-on-two tag for a long while. Wheeler back at it, Harwood makes the Spirit of ‘76 return and we move into the closing stretch with some real strong back-and-forth and nearfalls.

Should you watch it?: Built around Harwood’s injury, this was a good well-executed match but missing that little bit of an extra spark to push it to greatness. A solid “how much do you like these guys?” 3.

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

How it went down: A match of pairs early on, PAC and Black working with each other and Connors with Miro, Trading partners, Malakai with some cool legwork on Clark, he and Miro work together in an uneasy alliance to beat PAC up, but things break down and the Redeemer has to throw hands with Black. Things get hardcore, the Bastard gets out a table and puts Miro through it, back inside to a fever pitch and thus to the finish.

Should you watch it?: This is a really good, really high intensity, high impact pro wrestling match. There’s something ineffable missing here that keeps me from telling you that you absolutely have to watch it, but it’s still very good and worth your time and very much a 4.

Bullet Club (El Phantasmo, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs. Dudes With Attitude (Darby Allin, Shingo Takagi, & Sting)

How it went down: Well this starts off with 63-year-old Sting diving off the entrance arch so I mean... Anyway, Bullet Club in charge with full shenanigans for some time, Shingo leads the babyface comeback, a bit of hot back and forth that gets the match back into gear after all the goofball nonsense derails it early and thence to the finish.

Should you watch it?: This is the Bucks and ELP at full ridiculousness and that hurts the match a little for me. It’s still got a lot of great action to it and overall it makes for a very strong 3.

Thunder Rosa vs. Toni Storm

How it went down: Slow and steady this one, heating up a little after a German on the apron and a shockingly early kickout of the Fire Thunder Driver, but it never quite got into gear and felt like it ended early.

Should you watch it?: Something felt a little off in the early goings and it never quite recovered here, and my sense of that isn’t helped by the way that it ended off of Rosa hitting Dustin Rhodes’ signature Final Cut and not her own finisher. Sorry to say as much as I like both of these women, this is a 3 for me.

Orange Cassidy vs. Will Ospreay

How it went down: Good back and forth action, Orange turning the heat up fairly early, Ospreay being cocky in the face of his shenanigans, both men really bringing it in a big way with some clever and tight nearfalls late in the game. (The one where Cassidy faked an injury after putting Will into the ringpost camera? Brilliant, never seen anything like it.)

Should you watch it?: Y’know, I was skeptical and annoyed by this one when it was announced because like clearly if Orange is gonna wrestle anybody it should be Toru Yano, but the clash between goofy-but-quietly-confident Cassidy and cocky-but-fundamentally insecure Ospreay really made for a very good match right here. A great, great 4. Plus the post-match with Katsuyori by God Shibata?!

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

How it went down: Castagnoli hard out the gates, not missing a beat, Sabre fighting the undertow and taking a kitchen sink approach, working various body parts to try and find the missing link, Claudio bringing his strength to bear (including an absolutely RIDICULOUS one-armed powerbomb), working through escalations and nearfalls to a fever pitch.

Should you watch it?: This is completely unsurprisingly great on every level. Claudio is a perfect replacement for Danielson, both on a per-match level and as our new member of Blackpool Combat Club, ZSJ is as good as ever, the sub-story of Zack testing referee Bryce Remsburg’s willingness to call the match as a DQ... basically unless you really, really dislike hard-hitting technical pro wrestling this is a 5 and almost certainly my match of the night. Watch it!

Adam Cole vs. “Hangman” Adam Page vs. “Switchblade” Jay White vs. Kazuchika Okada

How it went down: As promised, Cole and White work together to try and make this match all about Bullet Club and succeed at it for a long time, isolating each Page and Okada in long meandering heat segments. Eventually the alliance between Undisputed Elite and Bullet Club melts down, the match increases in intensity but never really manages a fever pitch on our way to a finish.

Should you watch it?: There’s some good work here (one precision superkick counter to a moonsault from Cole on Hangman springs to mind) but it never manages to feel as important as an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship match should. It’s not bad by any means, just kind of... limp, plus the finish felt like a misfire. A shallow 4.

Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Jon Moxley

How it went down: This is a New Japan main event in every meaningful sense of the world— feeling out into a slow back-and-forth build, escalations, taking pages from each other’s books (Tanahashi busting out the Danielson face stomps?!)— but also Mox gets busted open and it feels more gritty and visceral and not like we’re kind of going through the motions in the way too many NJ main events end up feeling.

Should you watch it?: Two masters at work making magic together, folks. Up until the point where Moxley got busted open it felt a little ho-hum, but once the claret started to flow it really escalated to a whole other level. Absolute 5, I think I liked Castagnoli/Sabre better as a start-to-finish match but the back half of this is completely golden.

There you have it, folks

Forbidden Door’s build was a little ramshackle and definitely threadbare in places but as a whole show it delivered on its promise and then some. I suppose my only principle place of disappointment is I would have liked more lasting crossover effect beyond just FTR winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship, but the show did an admirable job advancing storylines on both sides as well as just being a really good pro wrestling show on its own merits.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.

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