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Forbidden Door 2023 Reviews

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Reverse Hipsters Forbidden Door 2023 Reviews

MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (AEW Championship) 3/10 F-

Mjf wins

Bayley once said that Wrestling Eva Marie was almost like wrestling herself. It felt like MJF wrestled himself at Forbidden Door. The match was so gimmicky. MJF kept powdering and trying to get out of the match, but Hiroshi never did anything to justify that.

Admittedly I don't watch a lot of Hiroshi, but he didn't seem fully healthy to me. He had no burst and ran like he was attached to center blocks. Even when he jumped in the air, it was like he was a big man because he got no air and immediately started coming down. I think he was nursing a secret injury.

The whole match was meant to have MJF bounce all around Hiroshi like you would with an injured wrestler. In the end, this match felt like a match that was trying to trick fans into thinking they had just seen a great match by mimicking match beats, but it was inauthentic, and if Eva Marie, Sasha, or Ronda wrestled the exact same way Hiroshi did the internet would kill them for it.

CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima (Owen Cup ) 6.8/10 D

CM Punk yells

This match was better than the first match. This match still wasn't the greatest work rate match you will ever see, but there was plenty of psychology. The action was very basic, but the psychology was sound.

CM Pink came into a chorus of boos and played the villain for most of the match. Punk and Satoshi did a bunch of momentum spots to get Satoshi cheered for his offense. CM Punk notably dropped a hulk hogan leg drop and triple booker t esque elbow drop where he waited forever to hit the move. Satoshi notably slapped Cm Punk over the barricade into Dasha.

The reason this graded so low is because it never got to a PPV level of action, and the GTS Punk hit to win the match didn't look like it went right and then after the match, CM Punk undercut his heel character by raising his opponent's hand in a sign of respect.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Orange Cassidy Vs. Shibata vs. Daniel Garcia AEW International Championship 7.5/10 C

Sabre jr stretches orange Cassidy

This started out as a pretty run-of-the-mill fatal four-way, but business picked up, and the match got better. Orange Cassidy may have won the match, but Zack Saber Jr carried the match on his back. All of his crazy counters led to a series of exciting fast pace sequences and definitely improved the match. Also, Orange Cassidy was the right person to win. He shouldn't lose the title in a multi-man match. Hopefully, Orange will lose it to someone one on one and put them over.

Jungle Boy vs. Sinada IWGP World Title 7.5/10 C

Sanada pins jungle boy

Jungle Boy and Sinada seemed like they were about to have the best match of the night. They had counters on top of counters. Jungle Boy locked Sinada in his own move, and Sinada spun Jungle Boy around by his neck. That match could have been at least a strong C+, but the moonsault at the end fell flat. Rather than being the button on top of an epic battle, it just felt like, wow, that was it. When the ref hit three, I thought I had heard him wrong until the bell sounded. I think these two were capable of much better.

The Elite, Eddie Kingston, and Tomohiro Ishii vs. The Blackpool Combat Club, Konosuke Takeshita, and Shota Umino 8.3/10 B

The elite win

This was the first fun match on the Forbidden Door card that delivered a standard of wrestling closer to what I've come to expect in AEW. There were tons of exciting moves, like Adam Page's running shooting star to the outside or Konosuke's deadlift vertical German suplex. There was also great storytelling in this match. Eddie Kingston took a shot for Moxley even though they were on different sides, and you could see a clear difference in how Claudio and Eddie fought versus how Moxley and Eddie fought.

Finally, I loved the ending. Having Ishii pin wheeler Yuta was an excellent choice. Often, New Japan guys job to AEW guys, and it's really encouraging to see a new Japan guy without a title get a huge win on an AEW PPV.

Toni vs. Willow AEW Woman's Title 8.35/10 B

Toni stomps Willow

This match stood out because of how fast-paced it was. There was no wasted motion. If Willow wasn't fighting Toni, she was fighting the Outcast. Also, Toni got her licks in and ultimately won the match, but this match did a great job highlighting Willow.

Willow almost had Toni several times, either with her gnarly death drops or her awesome Indian death lock. She had Toni's number. Willow also dominated in the early going while beating up the Outcast. People should leave that match feeling Willow and Toni are on the same level. Toni had to cheat to win, but nobody really lost in this match-up.

Kenny Omega Vs. Will Ospreay (IWGP United States Championship) 9.7/10 A

Will Ospreay lines up Omega

This match was absolutely phenomenal. It started with the two feeling each other out, and very quickly, Omega learned that whatever advantage he thought he had was moot because Will was on his level.

In the next phase, Will Ospreay just ripped Omega apart. It looked like he was going to put Omega out to pasture. Part of this has to do with how well Omega sold it. When Will was driving Omega's head into the announce table, it looked like Omega wasn't protecting himself at all, like it was just his skull crashing against the table over and over. Omega took his revenge when he DDT'ed Will onto the side of the steel steps. I'll always remember the crunching sound his head made on the steel.

While Ospreay was dominating Omega, he took the Canadian flag from a fan, picked his nose, and wiped his butt with it. He also made fun of Omega's young fans in the front row. This led to a fiery comeback by Omega, and from that point, it was a dogfight.

Omega and Ospreay are so talented that even in a nasty battle of wills where they are tired and bleeding, they were able to show desperation and grit but also make it look pretty with their amazing offensive maneuvers.

Later in the match, Don Callis, who had been thrown out earlier, returned to help Will gain the upper hand. This is my only negative mark on the match. It makes no sense for Don to be able to come back after being thrown out. But moving on, it looked like Ospreay had it won with a screwdriver and two finishing moves, and then amazingly, Omega kicked out. After exchanging some counters, Will hit Omega with his own move, and Kenny kicked out at one. It was wild. Will eventually put Omega away, but the kick outs made the victory that much better because it made Omega seem like a final boss who was much more difficult to beat than everyone else, making Will look like a legend for beating him.

This match played out like a major motion picture. It was absolutely incredible, and Will winning was 100 percent the right call. Now Ospreay has cemented himself as the man, as everything he says he is, and nobody can doubt him. AEW now has my top two matches of the year.

Sting, Darby Allin, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Minoru Suzuki 8.4/10 B

Suzuki Jericho Sammy

Given the spot they were in, this match could have easily failed, having to follow Omega and Ospreay. However, the match was fast-paced and funny. I laughed out loud when Jericho tried the stinger splash, and when Suzuki joined in on the sports entertainer pose, it was pure gold. This match also succeeded where many others failed that night. Earlier in the card, there was a lot of standing around and you punch now I punch moments, and it was very boring, but this match did it right. The psychology of this match was on point, and when they chose to soak in a moment, it worked.

Sting was a huge focal point of this match, whether it was fighting off other legends like Jericho and Suzuki or getting destroyed by Sami, who flipped off the top rope-crushing Sting with a 630 through the table. However, SSting recovered, and he always puts these matches over by having a little more in the tank than you would think. This match was no different. He exceeded expectations, helped his team get the win, and added another page to his legend.

Bryan Danielson vs. Okada 8/10 B-

Bryan beats Okada

This might seem like a low grade for a match of this magnitude, but it's a credit to these two performers that they even got this high of a grade.

For most of the match, this seemed destined to be a C at best. Yes, Bryan Danielson worked the shoulder/arm of Okada really well, and Okada sold it really well, but it still felt like a warm-up was taking up most of the match. Both of them had a few nice moves, but they didn't stack into any crazy sequences.

I had the advantage of knowing that Bryan hurt his arm in this fight, but I didn't know when it happened or how. I know about when it happened, but I'm still not sure how he hurt it after the tombstone from Okada. Bryan started selling a seizure-like response after the tombstone on the entrance ramp. Given Bryna Danielson's history with concussions, this was a genuine concern for everyone watching. When the doctor was brought in, it seemed all the more real. However, After Okada grabbed Bryan and tried to finish him despite the seizure, it was revealed that it had all been a ruse, and Bryan hit the flying knee.

I'm not saying I was offended, but as someone with epilepsy, I will definitely say the spot was weird. It was heartless of Okada to try to finish Bryan during a seizure, and although I'm not an Okada expert, I didn't get the vibe he was supposed to be like that. Also, Bryan faking a seizure definitely created intrigue, but it may have been a little on the tasteless side, and even he isn't that ruthless as a character. This could be just Bryan making the best of his injured shoulder and trying to create something out of it while the doctor looks at it.

However, ironically it was Bryan breaking his arm that saved this match. Watching Bryan endure Okada pulling his broken arm for the Rainmaker and dragging him down by his injured arm shows how much grit he has. Watching Bryan fight through the pain of a broken arm, put on a Yes Lock, or punch Okada was inspiring. It made all of Bryans's offense look that much better.

Another wrestler in Bryan's position could have folded, but he only got better under pressure. He made Okada tap out, and even though he had one arm and couldn't properly lock in the Yes Lock, he pushed through for the match and then switched to a crazy figure four armbar that convincingly made Okada tap out. Bryan saved the match, toughed through pain, and still made Okada look strong even while getting a submission victory over him. Okada did his part to make this match what it was, and his selling and professionalism helped Bryan to be able to work so effectively even after the injury. However, Bryan Danielson is the undisputed best wrestler in the world in my book. He just added another page to his legend with this historic victory. It's not just about who he beat. It's about how he did it. Legend.

Rob’s Forbidden Door Review

MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (AEW Championship)

MJF vs. Tanahashi

With so many big matches, it made sense to kick off the night with this match. One thing that is weird about Forbidden Door is that the results are sort of forecasted, meaning Hiroshi Tanahashi is almost certainly not ending MJF’s reign and staying in the Americas for months to be the AEW Champion. You have to enjoy the ride, not the destination. MJF and Tanahashi told a good story going into this match of MJF not respecting NJPW wrestlers.

Tanahashi didn’t look as athletic as he has in past matches, but it was still cool to see him in this spot. MJF worked the hell out of the crowd, and Tanahashi played along. Dueling chants meant the fans were hot for the night. MJF cheated to win, and it continued to make the fans boo him, even when you really want to cheer the work he’s doing. It wasn’t a great work rate match, but it was a lot of fun.

Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average

CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima (Owen Hart Tournament)

Elbow Drop on Punk

One thing that is sure about CM Punk- he is getting a reaction. And when you’re getting a reaction in wrestling, your name shoots up the card. Satoshi Kojima made this match a lot of fun too, and the dueling styles are what made this PPV great. Punk clearly started working as a heel in this match as he poked fun at Kojima. Punk was the right choice to win, as AEW needs to protect him and set him up for whatever big feud is next. In the end, he paid respect to Kojima, so it’s clear he still appreciates wrestling as an art form.

Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average

Orange Cassidy vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Daniel Garcia (International Championship)

Champions stand together

This match had the potential to steal the show, and even though I don’t think they quite got there, they put on something unique from anything else on the card. Everyone involved got their stuff in. Orange Cassidy is working at an insanely high level and defending his championship often. It is incredible to even see Katsuyori Shibata in a ring at all, let alone as often as we have lately. Zack Sabre Jr. does things on the mat that are on another level and brutal to watch. Daniel Garcia has managed to get his sports entertainer character over, and he can still wrestle at a high level too. The antics after the match imply that there is more story to be told, and AEW has to be keen on the idea of letting Sabre Jr. on the All In card. This was an awesome spot for Garcia to be in, but I can’t help but feel like he got done dirty a little by not being in on the post-match storyline.

Final Grade: 7/10 Good

Sanada vs. Jungle Boy Jack Perry (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship)

Jungle Boy turned on Hook

This was such a weird match because NJPW’s top title was being defended in a match that felt like it was made for the midcard. Because I haven’t watched New Japan regularly in so long, I didn’t even know Sanada was the champion, though he showed me why he was in-ring here. Likewise, I would not have picked Jungle Boy to be his opponent. To some extent, I think both NJPW and AEW were sending in guys who they were willing to take the loss in this match. Regardless, I love how these two built the match, saying they didn’t watch each others’ stuff before slowly showing they had scouted their opponents by reversals and hitting each others’ signature moves. In the end, Sanada won in the most predictable result on the show. In the post-match, Jungle Boy turned on HOOK, and it was kind of choreographed, arguably overdue, but it’s probably the best thing for his character right now.

Final Grade: 7/10 Good

The Elite, Eddie Kingston, and Tomohiro Ishii vs. The Blackpool Combat Club, Konosuke Takeshita, and Shota Umino

Wheeler Yuta

This match was a cluster of highlights that I don’t even know where to start. The Elite and the Blackpool Combat Club shine in places like these. Eddie Kingston was foaming at the mouth to get to Claudio Castagnoli before the match even started, and the storytelling was taking place already. Castagnoli wouldn’t fight Kingston, but it set up Ishii to fight Konosuke Takeshita with some brutal collisions in the middle of the ring. Kingston found himself opposite Jon Moxley later, and they chopped each other back and forth for minutes while the Elite hit highlight moves in the background. Later, it set up the Young Bucks trying to superkick Moxley, and Kingston came in to save his friend in opposition to his time.

Moxley didn’t return the favor later, though, as he hit a cutter on Kingston. Still, the Elite got the win as Ishii hit a brainbuster on Wheeler Yuta. Kingston is clearly conflicted. The Blackpool Combat Club seems to be getting fed up with Yuta being the one who loses these big matches. This match was an absolute highlight for Ishii, who is one of the most underappreciated wrestlers on the NJPW roster. This was the best match of the night to this point, and it set up more story for later too.

Final Grade: 8/10 Great

Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale (AEW Women’s Championship)

Willow Nightingale

It bums me out that AEW consistently puts the Women in tough spots like this after crazy multi-man matches, and it clearly becomes a “bathroom break” match for fans in the arena. Willow Nightingale was put in a big spot here. While she is established clearly as a champion in Japan, she is still getting over in AEW, but she proved she belonged tonight. Nightingale almost took Toni Storm to the limit here, but some predictable interference from the Outcasts led to Storm retaining.

Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average

Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (IWGP United States Championship)

Will wrenches Omega

What. A. Match. At the beginning, you could tell these two were pacing themselves, but they paced out a few very good wrestling sequences mixed in with some brutal spots like Will Ospreay smashing Kenny Omega’s head into the table, Omega using the stairs in unique ways, and Ospreay hitting some crazy high flying maneuvers. Any criticism that Ospreay is just a flippy workrate guy needs to go away- in this match, he worked the hell out of the crowd with his character, taunting, using the Canadian Flag, and smirking when they chanted obscenely at him.

Ospreay actually got almost all of the offense on Omega- I thought he had this match won at least three times. The kick out at one popped me harder than anything else this whole night. I wanted to see them fight forever. AEW was actually really smart to have past matches go to the time limit because it made fans feel like this one could. Instead, we got a big win for Ospreay, the first title change of the night, and the best match to this point- a must-watch.

Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing

Sting, Darby Allin, and Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, and Minoru Suzuki

Sting Darby

This was a star-studded match and still a good palate cleanser between the two dream matches of the night. This featured some unique face-offs between everyone involved, and it symbolized what Forbidden Door is all about. The fans got to see Tetsuya Naito, one of NJPW’s top stars who was missing for some reason at last year’s show. The crowd loved Naito, and it led to some of the most fun moments of the match.

The biggest spot of the match came when Chris Jericho called for Sammy Guevara to do a big move onto Sting through the table. Guevara delayed but ultimately obliged. I think Sting was supposed to dodge it, but it hit, and it was a huge bump for the living legend to take. In the end, the babyfaces won, but an angry Jericho attacked Naito until being chased off by Sting, setting up more stories later.

Final Grade: 6/10 Above Average

Kazuchika Okada vs. Bryan Danielson

Okada grabs Bryan

After a long show, the dream match was finally here. Bryan Danielson came out to his old entrance music, the Final Countdown, which added a one-night-only exclamation to the match. Kazuchika Okada came out in what felt like one of the biggest entrances of the night. They started at a slow pace but worked their way into some bigger spots, including a tombstone piledriver to Danielson’s injured neck, Okada diving into the stands, and Okada enduring some painful submissions.

Danielson faked a seizure spot, which I think was in poor taste considering the match. While it was supposed to get him some heel heat, it was clear no one was a heel in this dream match. Danielson was also clearly working with an injured arm midway through the match as he cradled it, and it limited him in the final spots of the match. In the end, Danielson locked in another brutal submission and tapped out Okada. The crowd was almost stunned by the end. I was upset because I was rooting for Okada, but I had to admit it was a surprising ending and a solid match overall, though it never quite hit the level I was anticipating out of these two.

Final Grade: 7/10 Good

Reverse Hipster's Final Grade 7.5/10 C

The Forbidden Door 2023 reviews are in, and it was a journey. It started out pretty bad and disappointing, but as the show progressed, it got better to the point of delivering one of the best matches of the year. It's interesting this year's PPV had the best match of either Forbidden Door PPV, but the previous PPV was far better overall.

This PPV would have benefitted from two things. The first is less test of strength spots because they are not nearly as exciting or logical as they thought. It also became super repetitive since everyone decided to do it. Also, a lot of these matches could have been done with more action to showcase the psychology they were trying to get through. Second, AEW could have cut a few of these matches, which would have greatly improved the grade of the card.

Rob's Final Thoughts

AEW’s Forbidden Door has turned into a delicious treat of an annual staple for AEW and NJPW. This was likely the most interesting card we will see all year, and I hope we see more like it in the future. While, at times, the show felt slow and long, nothing on this card was a bad match. I was there, and for the most part, the crowd was hot the whole show, and it’s hard to do that for four-plus hours. I think this is my show of the year so far, and it will be hard for anybody to top it.

Final Grade: 9/10 Amazing

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