The SmarK Rant for AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door – 06.26.22
Live from Chicago, IL
Your hosts are Excalibur, Taz & Kevin Kelly
Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara & Minoru Suzuki v. Eddie Kingston, Shota Umino & Wheeler Yuta
Funny that the heels have the singalong theme songs here. Yuta slaps Jericho around and hits him with rolling germans right away, and then an Angle slam for two into a crossface. Everyone runs in and brawls to the floor as the babyfaces gain the advantage, but Sammy kicks Yuta down in the ring. Sammy flips into a dropkick and follows with a senton for one, but SHOOTER Umino comes in with a low dropkick. The heels quickly trap him in the corner and Jericho beats on him with chops, but Shota takes him back to the babyface corner and it’s over to Eddie. Jericho would rather have Suzuki take care of that, but that’s fine. I’ll take it. So we exchange chops and Suzuki NO SELLS the corner chops and pounds Eddie down instead. OK we need a singles match before Suzuki goes back to Japan. So Jericho comes in and gets his shots, but Eddie gets his chop mojo back by beating on Jericho until Suzuki ties him up with the hanging armbar from the apron. The heels go to work on the arm and Suzuki puts Eddie down with a PK for two. And then we get triple submission moves from the heels until Kingston falls into the ropes to break.
Eddie fights back with an exploder and STO on Sammy and brings Umino back in, as he runs wild on Sammy, but they head to the floor and Sammy hits a shooting star off the post and to the floor. Yuta hits his own dive, and then Eddie Kingston follows with a tope, and finally Suzuki teases on before backing off and laughing. Back in the ring, Yuta comes in with a crossbody on Sammy for two and a rollup for two. Eddie gets the blind tag and hits Sammy with a backdrop driver to set up the Stretch Plum, but Suzuki casually kicks him in the face to break it up. And then we get the finisher spam and everyone is down. Back to Umino, but Sammy hits him with a knee strike and Jericho tries for the Walls. Umino escapes that, so Jericho hits the codebreaker for two. Jericho goes up and Umino follows him up with a powerslam for two. Jericho tries the Lionsault and Eddie slugs him down mid-move, and Umino gets two. Meanwhile Sammy takes out Yuta on the floor, and then hits Umino with the bat, but he keeps fighting with a tornado DDT on Jericho, into a brainbuster for two. Umino gets his own Walls in revenge for the Tokyo Dome, but Sammy and Suzuki both beat on Umino to break it up. Eddie tries to help and Suzuki puts him down with the piledriver, leaving Umino three on one with the heels. But he still fights on, until the Judas Effect puts him out at 18;56. This was a weird mix of styles but a hell of a performance from Umino with non-stop action and a great opener. ****
Winner takes all: FTR v. Great O-Khan & Jeff Robb v. Roppongi Vice
Uncle Dax starts with Trent and grabs a headlock and they trade off that until Jeff Cobb tags himself in. Cobb overpowers Dax for a bit, but Rocky tags himself in and manages to get double-teamed by FTR. Why FTR is great part 12: Cash has his back taped up from the “injury” suffered on Rampage. Dax runs into a problem with his shoulder and heads out for attention, which results in the doctor taking him to the back while Cobb beats on Cash outside. Back in the ring, O-Khan chokes out Cash in the corner and then sits on his head in a wacky bit, and Cobb comes in and rides the surfboard on Cash. Khan comes in and talks some crap, but Cash yanks him by the braid and has to tag out to Trent. The Vice double-teams Cobb and Rocky gets a rana to put him on the floor for a brawl. Back in the ring, RV double-teams Khan with a sliding knee from Trent that gets two. Cash tags himself in again and fights off the Empire alone like Obi-Wan, but then Dax returns, more shoulder tape than man. Hot tag Dax and he slugs away with one good arm and hits Cobb with rolling germans. Cobb goes up and Dax cuts him off and then teams up with Trent for a superplex, which Cash turns into a Powerplex with a flying splash for two. Rocky tags himself in and helps Cash with a spike piledriver on Khan. RV tries Strong Zero on Cobb, but he reverses to a powerbomb on Trent and the United Empire clears the ring and double-teams Trent with a chokeslam for two. Rocky dives onto Dax and Khan outside and they manage to hit Strong Zero on Cobb for two, but Cash makes the save. Dax in again and Rocky rolls him up for two before they go into the pinfall reversals, but the crowd gives them a hard time because Dax didn’t actually kick out in time. But the Big Rig on Rocky finishes at 16:25 to give FTR all the belts and all is forgiven. This was kind of messy and never really hit that next gear, but it was fun and worked well enough. ***1/4
Meanwhile, Juice Robinson is here after all, and he still claims to be US champion, along with some other jobber who claims to be IWGP World champion.
AEW All Atlantic title: Pac v. Miro v. Malakai Black v. Clark Connors
I don’t know who’s winning but I know who’s losing. Black throws Pac out and beats on him with kicks to start, while Miro beats on Connors in the ring. Clark fights back and manages to get him on the floor, but he dives and that goes badly for him. Black and Pac fight to the top rope in the meantime and Pac tries a sunset bomb, but Black blocks him and gets a low dropkick. Miro beats on Black, but Black takes Connors down with a leglock. Miro grabs Connors by the hair and drags him to the floor to break him free, which is an awesome spot that is 100% on brand for Miro. Miro hits Pac with a fallaway slam and then beats on poor Clark Connors some more with a lariat and gut wrench for two. Black and Miro fight over who gets to finish off Pac, and Miro slugs Black to the floor and then hits Pac with a samoan drop for two. Pac counters the big kick with a superkick of his own, and then dives onto Black outside and kicks Connors in the face on the way by for good measure. Back in, Pac runs wild with a shotgun dropkick on Miro, but Miro puts them all down and everyone is out. Black finds a table outside and puts it on the railing, but he can’t put Miro through it. Pac dives onto Miro again and gets caught again, but he manages to run Miro into the post, and Connors spears Miro through the table off that. Back in the ring, Connors gets his big comeback on Black and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb on Pac for two. Pac puts him down with a superkick and goes up for the Black Arrow, but Black cuts that off and we get the Tower of Doom spot out of that. Miro clears the ring and puts Pac down for the Game Over, but Pac makes the ropes. So Miro drags him back and tries again, but Black spits the black mist to get rid of Miro. Black fights with Connors for an armbar, but Pac breaks it up with a 450 and puts Connors in the Brutalizer at 15:10 to win the title. Took a little while to get their shit together but the finish RULED. ***1/2 Poor Connors looked way out of place in there, unfortunately, and it probably would have been a lot better without him.
Sting, Darby Allin & Shingo Takagi v. The Young Bucks & El Phantasmo
Sting is missing during the entrances, but he waits until the Bucks are doing theirs and dives onto them from apparently the middle of the sky. Takagi hits Phantasmo with a suplex for two while Kevin Kelly coins “Los Stingobernales” although I think Dudes with Attitudes rolls off the tongue better. Sting and Takagi double-team Phantasmo with sentons and Darby comes in and gets double-teamed by the Bucks. Darby gets tossed and Nick hits the dive over Matt. Back in, Matt with the eyepoke on Darby and they hit a double-team neckbreaker. This sets up Phantasmo for the DERMIS DESTROYER backrake after a few rolls for dramatic effect. And then Matt one-ups him with his own version with EVEN MORE flips. Back in my day, guys did backrakes WITHOUT all the flips! Darby gets hung in the Tree of Woe for a triple dropkick from the Bucks right in the yambag region. And Hikuleo takes out Sting to prevent him from saving, so Darby makes his own comeback with a code red on Phantasmo and it’s hot tag Shingo. Snap suplex on Nick gets two. Death valley driver and it’s back to Sting, as Phantasmo tries for a Purple Nurple and Sting isn’t having that. Stinger splash on the Bucks, but Phantasmo goes very blatantly low on Sting and it’s a SUPERKICK PARTY. But Sting doesn’t party and he no-sells it and takes out the Bucks. Back to Darby, but the Coffin Drop misses and he takes More Bang for Your Buck as Phantasmo gets two. Bucks dive onto Darby and Takagi outside and then Phantasmo moonsaults the pile, but before Sting can add the big final dive, he takes a triple superkick. BTE Trigger misses and it’s a double deathdrop to get rid of the Bucks, and Phantasmo is left alone, and it is he who suffers the Purple Nurple this time. And a kick in the yambag for good measure. Darby takes out Hikuleo and Shingo beats on Phantasmo to set up the lariat for two. Last of the Dragon finishes at 13:01, which was really the only finish you could do here. And this would be your FORBIDDEN DOOR PARTY MATCH of the night. Not like a workrate fest but insanely goofy and fun. ****
Meanwhile, Jericho and his goons offer their respect to Shota Umino, and then Jericho throws FIRE. Because he’s a WIZARD.
AEW Women’s World title: Thunder Rosa v. Toni Storm
They trade takedowns to start and it’s a stalemate, but Rosa rolls her up for two and Toni reverses for two. Storm with a snap suplex for two. Cradle gets two, and they slug it out and trade chops. Rosa gets a stunner and follows with a corner clothesline and a northern lights suplex for two. Rosa with a double stomp for two and she ties up Toni with a leglock, but they fight to the floor and Rosa suplexes her out there. They fight on the apron and Toni gets a german suplex on the apron, which is THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in for the HIP ATTACK OF DOOM and that gets two. Rosa counters Storm Zero with a codebreaker and hits a death valley driver, and the Fire Thunder Driver gets two. Rosa beats on her with kicks and tries a knee strike, but Storm counters with a german suplex. But the arm is hurt, and Rosa hits Dustin’s Final Reckoning neckbreaker to finish at 10:48 and retain. Kind of an anticlimactic finish. Match was OK. **1/2
IWGP US title: Will Ospreay v. Orange Cassidy
Oddly this one gets a video package when nothing else so far has. Orange evades Ospreay and sweeps the leg for two with the hands in the pockets before offering Will a thumbs up. Orange with the spinning headscissors and Will bails to the floor, but Orange declines to dive and strikes an Ospreay pose instead. Back in, Will hits him with a high kick to put him on the floor, and then takes a running start around the ring and boots him into the railing. Back in, Ospreay whips him into the corner and follows with a spinning backbreaker for two. That was like something out of a video game. Ospreay chokes him out in the corner for two while JR rages against YAYHOOS who release guys on an irish whip too soon. OK boomer. Ospreay with an abdominal stretch while mocking the pockets, but Orange fights back from the apron and goes up with a crossbody. Will flips into a Pele kick in an amazing spot and goes up with a flying forearm from the top, which gets two. Ospreay with the Kawada kicks, but Orange gets worked up as much as he ever does and puts the hands in his pockets to make the comeback. Shotgun dropkick and Orange gets his own Kawada kicks, then some real ones. Ospreay tries the Ozcutter and Orange casually moves out of the way and hits him with the stunner and Michinoku driver for two. Orange goes up and Ospreay cuts him off, so Orange DDTs him and puts him on the floor for a dive. Aussie Open interferes and Orange takes them out and back in with a diving DDT for two. Ospreay catches him with a Spanish Fly and they fight to the top, where Orange runs Will into the corner camera in a unique spot. So Orange decides to play dead while Ospreay shakes it off, and Ospreay hits a triple moonsault, but Orange cradles for two and follows with the Beach Break for two. This sets up the Orange Punch, but he walks into the cutter and an OzCutter gets two. And finally the Hidden Blade, but Orange ducks it, and then reverses the Stormbreaker into a rana for two. Orange Punch is countered to a lariat, and the Hidden Blade gets two. Holy crap I thought that was it. Stormbreaker finishes at 16:42. Match of the night thus far. ****1/2 United Empire beatdown follows, but Roppongi Vice saves and they also get laid out. But then SHIBATA returns from the dead and makes the save and kicks all their asses single-handedly. And Orange rewards him with the glasses and a thumbs up, setting up the tag team the world didn’t know they needed.
Zack Sabre Jr. v. Claudio Castagnoli
The crowd goes NUTS for Claudio, and we even get a funny meme moment as he stops to hug the cameraman at ringside to reference the running theory that he had been hiding in plain sight as the cameraman all along. Claudio immediately lays out Zack with a forearm and hits him with the Neutralizer for two, and Zack bails to the floor to escape. Claudio puts him down with another running forearm, but misses a charge and hurts the arm. Back in, Zack goes for the arm, but Claudio boots him and hits a delayed suplex for two. Zack goes after the knee on the apron with a hanging kneebar and then switches back to the arm and twists him up with some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION before taking him down and stomping on the wrist to work that over. Claudio fights back with backbreakers and hits the running forearm in the corner, and that gets two. Claudio tries for a slam and ZSJ reverses to an armbar attempt, so Claudio powers him up and they tumble over the top with Zack still hanging onto the triangle. So Claudio powers him up AGAIN, and walks up the stairs before dumping Sabre into the ring. This sets up the Giant Swing, but Zack cuts it off with a guillotine to really piss off the crowd. They head to the top and Zack wraps him up with a stretch up there, but Claudio fires back with an uppercut and brings him down with a gut wrench off the middle rope. And that sets up another swing, but Zack makes the ropes to escape again. They trade uppercuts and Claudio wins that battle for two, and it’s time for the Swing. He only gets six rotations before the arm gives out, so he goes for the Sharpshooter instead and Zack kicks out of that and then reverses to a heel hook. But then Claudio powers up and into the Sharpshooter, then adds a double stomp for two. Zack dares him to trade forearms, so Claudio obliges and puts him down, before Zack catches him in a sleeper. Claudio makes the ropes, so Zack throws the PK and Claudio wants some more and fires back with a lariat for two. Zack with the European Clutch for two, but Claudio uppercuts him and then kills him with a lariat and Ricola Bomb for the pin at 18;26. This lived up to the surprise as promised. ****1/4
IWGP World title: Jay White v. Adam Cole v. Hangman Page v. Kazuchika Okada
Oh great, now Gedo is in White’s corner to ruin the show. Jay gets the crowd all fired up, and then walks away and lets everyone else do the work. Sounds right. And then he attacks Okada from behind, but gets into an argument with Cole about who is going to beat whom. Everyone fights on the floor and Hangman hits Cole with a dive while White suplexes Okada onto the apron, which even in Japan is THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. The Bullet Club doofuses double-team Hangman with a double suplex on the ramp. Back in, they double-team Okada and White chops him down, but Hangman makes the save and dumps White for a dive. Back in, a crossbody on Cole gets two. Page goes up and Cole counters with a superkick mid-moonsault to bring him down and get rid of him. Okada fights them both off and dropkicks Cole to the floor, and then boots White into the front row. Hopefully he’ll stay there and watch the real wrestlers compete for the title. I’ll even buy him the popcorn and beer in case he needs a snack.
Okada follows with a dive over the railing to take out White and back in for the Money Clip on Cole, but White heads back in and breaks it up. Who’s letting fans run in like that? White puts Hangman down with a flatliner, but Page counters a german into a cradle for two. Finally Cole turns on White with a backstabber and gets two to end that relationship. White ducks the Boom and puts him down with a uranage, and then hits everyone with sleeper suplexes. And then everyone exchanges shots and they’re all down. They all slug it out and Page hits White with the powerbomb for two. This sets up the Buckshot, but Cole trips him up and then so does Gedo. Third try misses, but he hits White with the Deadeye instead and goes back to the apron, and the Buckshot gets two. Okada saves and we get a showdown with Hangman. Okada misses the dropkick and Page rolls him up for two and then puts him down with a lariat. Cole saves the buckshot and tosses Page into the post, and back in for the Panama Sunrise, which Okada blocks with an Air Raid Crash. Okada to the top with a flying elbow to set up the RAINMAKER, but White saves and Cole superkicks Okada a few times for two. Okada fights back with the dropkick, but Cole escapes the Rainmaker and superkicks everyone. Okada tries another Rainmaker and Cole escapes again, but Jay White sneaks in and hits a Blade Runner on Okada and then pins Cole to retain the title at 21:08. Even JR calls that finish anticlimactic. We didn’t even get to see a Rainmaker! Man this was kind of a huge disappointment. Well I mean even moreso than the usual level of disappointment that is watching Jay White wrestle. But really there was way too much Adam Cole and almost no Okada. We’ve seen Page v. Cole multiple times already, I wanted to see something different. ***1/4
AEW World title: Jon Moxley v. Hiroshi Tanahashi
They trade takedowns to start and Moxley gives him a clean break on the ropes, so Tanahashi headlocks him and frustrates him. So they slug it out and Tana takes him down with a dragon screw and goes to a leglock on the mat. Moxley makes the ropes and then dives out with a cutter out of nowhere. They slug it out again and Moxley gets a corner clothesline to set up a butterfly suplex off the top. Piledriver gets two. Moxley goes to a chinlock while the crowd gets distracted by something going on outside, and he goes to a cloverleaf before Tanahashi makes the ropes. Tanahashi slugs back and goes up with a senton for two. They head to the floor and that’s more Mox’s style, as he slams Tanahashi through a table. Back in, Moxley goes to a cross armbreaker, but Tanahashi reverses out and stomps him down, and a sling blade puts Moxley on the floor. And Mox has managed to bust himself open, so Tanahashi hits him with a high cross to the floor. Back in, Moxley tries to catch him with the DDT, but Tanahashi gets the Twist and Shout, only for Moxley to roll into a Paradigm Shift for two. Mox with the elbows, but Tanahashi puts him down with a knee strike to set up the Aces High and High Fly Flow for two. And Moxley rolls him over into the choke, but Tanahashi cradles for two. Moxley with another choke and Tanahashi cradles again for two. Moxley with a lariat for one, so he keeps coming with the elbows and sinks in a choke. Tanahashi fights out of that, so the Death Rider finishes and Moxley gets his second AEW World title at 18:24. A solid main event but not the classic they had been building up to. It was lacking something I couldn’t put my finger on, maybe the fact that Moxley was essentially busted open for no reason and it didn’t really mean anything. ***1/2 And then once again we get a big brawl with the Jericho and Combat Club teams to set Blood and Guts, which kind of renders the point of the show a bit meaningless when it’s just there to advertise the free TV show.
The buildup might have been subpar, but the show itself was a great wrestling show, albeit one that kind of ran out of steam by the time they got to the two title matches. Still, a bunch of four star matches makes this one a solid thumbs up and a fun night.