Tony Khan has made it his personal mission to bust down the ‘Forbidden Door’ of professional wrestling and unite some of the hottest promotions from across the world under one banner to give fans exactly what they want to see. Since the restrictions surrounding global travel have been lifted, we’ve seen some unbelievable matches and moments courtesy of Khan’s new outreach, although there are still many more cameos and trades that have yet to be tapped into.
With the G1 Climax in NJPW now behind us and AEW reaching a bit of a lull period as we come to the end of their 2021 PPV schedule, it’s time that TK and the rest of independent wrestling’s biggest move-makers to allow talent to freely appear as and when they can to tick off some dream matches that wrestling fans are dying to pay money for.
Even though we are focusing solely on AEW and NJPW talent in this list, there of course the hard-working men and women of the Impact Wrestling roster to consider as well, with a bunch of other smaller promotions linked to this movement within the wider community. I fully expect 2022 to be the year that the ‘Forbidden Door’ is made a thing of the past, with wrestlers darting from one promotion to the next on almost a weekly basis. For now, however, let’s run down 5 of the most requested ‘Forbidden Door’ matches that we’d like to see before the year’s end.
1. Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada
Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada’s critically-acclaimed series of NJPW matches put them as well as many other stars that are now enjoying mainstream attention on the global map. Their 5*+ Wrestle Kingdom performances brought millions of new eyes to New Japan’s product, and then to other smaller indies across the Western world because of the sheer amount of talent that they proved existed within the industry outside of WWE.
Okada and Omega’s names are synonymous with one another thanks to their 2017-2018 series, and it’d be hard to argue that without the success of those matches, we probably wouldn’t have AEW today, and that’s precisely why we need to see the return of their saga on American soil. With both Okada and Omega celebrating success in their respective home turfs, it’d bring an entirely different vibe to their return bout here in 2021/2022. Having spent four years apart from one another, allowing them to evolve into veteran-like stars wrestling in their prime with a much wider fanbase now behind them, it’d bring a new meaning to ‘big fight feel’.
The demand to see this match is so big that there’s no way AEW couldn’t book this onto one of their bigger cards. Given the time and marketing, this could easily become the biggest singles bout to ever take place outside of WWE’s parameters.
2. Bryan Danielson vs Zack Sabre Jr
Two of the very best grapplers in the world today have both come out and admitted their desire to face one another in the squared circle. There’s no doubt in my mind that this match would bang, and bang hard. With both wrestlers favouring a mat-based, submission-centric style, expect some serious chain wrestling and intense joint manipulation.
Now that ‘The Technical Wizard’ is excelling in the singles division of NJPW, as per his recent run in the G1 Climax 31, I suspect that Tony Khan will do his best to either bring ZSJ across the waters to the United States, or allow ‘The American Dragon’ the opportunity that WWE were willing to give him if he stayed, that being the chance to wrestle in Japan once again.
Danielson/Sabre Jr would sell out any arena across the globe, but perhaps in the hallowed halls of the Tokyo Dome will this match light the world on fire and likely draw in a shedload of stars from certain wrestling observers.
3. CM Punk vs KENTA
One question permeates all of pro wrestling: who is the true master of the GTS? CM Punk or KENTA?
That’s an answer we’ll hopefully receive in due time, as the new IWGP United States Champion has issued the challenge to AEW’s CM Punk. KENTA has already briefly appeared for All Elite Wrestling in the midst of the global pandemic, wrestling then-champ Jon Moxley in a series of great matches. With the relationships already established, there’s no argument for this match finally taking place now that Punk is back wrestling full-time.
You know this would be a huge dream match on CM Punk’s personal bucket list, seeing as he fled the indie scene just as KENTA was generating some steam. This bout has been a long time coming, and it’s going to be great to see who truly has the most powerful means of putting someone to sleep.
4. Lucha Brothers vs The Briscoe Brothers
Along with The Young Bucks, the Lucha Brothers can boast being one of the best tag teams in the world today. They’ve toppled most of the premier tag teams of both AEW and AAA but have yet to face challenges from the other side of the ‘Forbidden Door’, and when thinking of who else could potentially hold a candle to Fenix and Penta, the Briscoes immediately spring to mind.
Now that Ring of Honor have dissolved their roster, the Briscoe Brothers are free to compete in any given promotion. Many fans are keeping their fingers crossed for a potential NJPW appearance from Mark and Jay, however I personally believe they’d fit in very well amongst the AEW Tag division. With the likes of the Bucks, FTR and Jurassic Express all consistently performing at a high standard, adding the no-nonsense Briscoes into the mix would only improve the already stellar competition.
A brawl between the two pairs of brothers could easily headline a major AEW card, add some blood and guts into the affair and fans of all genres of wrestling will be given something to love.
5. Will Ospreay vs Chris Jericho
Despite his personal controversies, Will Ospreay is undoubtedly one of the best singles wrestlers in the world today. His work in NJPW and Revolution Pro has been remarkable this year and it seems now that relations are beginning to be established between ‘The Aerial Assassin’ and All Elite Wrestling. The question is: when will the former IWGP World Champion be bursting through the ‘Forbidden Door’?
Looking at his most recent appearance as part of the Jericho Cruise, he was featured alongside ‘Le Champion’ in a star-studded eight-man tag match, a match which also featured Orange Cassidy and the eclectic Danhausen. Seeing Ospreay and Jericho sharing a ring only led to the fantasies of seeing the two do battle in the squared circle, and if AEW are hoping to capitalise on Ospreay’s value as a performer, then Jericho may be the best possible opponent for him to be in the ring with.
Jericho and Ospreay could deliver one heck of a match, calling back to Jericho’s original run as a cruiserweight wrestler in WCW, hailing back to matches against the likes of Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Dean Malenko. ‘The Painmaker’ could also bring out that nastier side of the leader of the United Empire, tussling and brawling, exchanging stiff shots and intense submissions.
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