HomeTelevisionAEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 Review: An Awesome Live Experience

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 Review: An Awesome Live Experience

I was there!

I saw how Konosuke Takeshita deadlifted Dante Martin, suplexing him onto a ladder. Marc Briscoe launching himself off a ladder to the floor. Tomohiro Ishii and Brody King brawling it out. Samoa Joe and Jeff Cobb going hoss mode. Will Ospreay and Swerve Strickland having an easy Match of the Year Contender. 

Where do I begin?!

Let’s talk about seeing it live. Yes, at home we get the camera closeups and commentary. Live, it’s the energy and fire of the crowd. Watching everything happen in-person is an amazing rush of excitement. From bell-to-bell, the energy was high. 

The pre-show was absolutely nothing to pass over. 

An unannounced opener featured former ROH TV Champion Kyle Fletcher defeating Serpentico.

This could be branded as a squash, as Serpentico had very little, if any offense at all. There was no reason for this, but not every match needs one. It was there, and it was fine. 

House of Black (Malakai & King) defeated Tomohiro Ishii & Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong & Gabe Kidd, and Private Party

Private Party was over big time with the Long Island crowd. However, when Ishii and big bad Brody King got in the ring, the crowd lost their minds. This is just the pre-show! Ishii powering King up for a suplex and collapsing was a scary sight, it looked as though King’s head got crushed under his own weight. Kidd and Strong started arguing, O’Reilly can be a one-man wrecking machine when called. 

House of Black winning was a good decision, they’re big bad dudes and should be treated as such. 

Willow Nightingale & Tam Nakano defeated Kris Statlander & Momo Watanabe

An extremely fun women’s tag match. Nakano and Watanabe had some great exchanges. This is the type of match, being shown on PPV and for free on streaming to present these women to mainstream audiences. Nakano’s suplexes are gorgeous. Statlander excellently heeled it up by attacking Willow only when she had the clear advantage. They will collide in the women’s brackets of the Owen Hart Memorial, this tease added to their already well-scripted feud. Nakano pinning Watanabe off an arm-locked German suplex was a great decision. 

I’m hopeful after Willow and Statlander wrap up their feud, both will continue to be featured. Statlander’s run as TBS Champion was unfortunately a bit underwhelming, hopefully her rebirth as heel will pay off. Willow will be a champion again, easily. 

Mariah May defeated Saraya to advance in the Owen Hart Memorial

There’s no question Mariah’s rise in AEW is being handled expertly and with the right level of scripted care. A good match which the crowd (and Nigel McGuiness) got into. Saraya is the right level of heel. We like to see her lose, but there’s always this sneaking suspicion she could outsmart her opponent to win. Post-match saw more tension and tease for the AEW Women’s Championship later in the night. 

The Lucha Brothers and Mistico defeated Yota Tsuji, Hiromu Takahashi, and Titan

This trios match should have been swapped with Jericho’s Tree/Joe’s Gym trios. The crowd was on its feet for most of it (remember, I was there) to a point where we all won for getting the chance to see a match like this live. Very impressive ring work by Tsuji and Takahashi. Titan and the other luchas pulled off aerial moves which felt impossible, yet there it was. 

Already four matches in, one might be baffled how it could get better. 

It did. Whoever organized the order and booking of matches overall did a good job of giving us some cool down matches between the big ones. Granted, some of those might have been intentional but gave the live crowd breaks to regain composure and make some quick runs to the restrooms. This truly felt like a NJPW-styled show. 

MJF defeated Hechicero

I called this being the opener. You get the major hometown hero to open the show and lite up the crowd. The premise going in seemed as though MJF was not taking his opponent seriously, and wound up paying the price for it, resulting in a very solid opener. I was skeptical whether MJF could keep pace with someone from CMLL. However, Hechicero was the right choice of opponent, since his wrestling style is primarily mat-based. That being said, MJF pulled off a few flips of his own. Finish felt a tag abrupt, but still looked good. A destroyer followed up with a brainbuster gave MJF the decisive win. 

The Elite (Jacksons & Okada) defeated The Acclaimed (Bowens, Caster, and Tanahashi)

The Elite once again resorted to heel tactics to gain the win. A kick to the groin to be specific. The Jackson brothers certainly get a reaction for their antics. It’s a bit confusing when the predictable “CM Punk” chants start, only to be abruptly replaced with something expletive for the same person. It’s as though fans realize “Oh crap, we don’t want to chant that guy’s name! Quick! Do something!” Having observed it, I can only conclude we’re all crazy. 

Besides this, any time where Okada and Tanahashi shared the ring was instantly applauded. 

This match pushes along how the EVPs will resort to anything to win. Post-match “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn made the save. No group scissoring tonight. Aw. 

Bryan Danielson defeated Shingo Takagi to advance in the Men’s Owen Hart Memorial Tournament

Dragon vs. Dragon this was. Not a dull moment in the slightest. Matches like this will always earn the attention from global wrestling fans. Meaning, not loyal to one company for the sake of being loyal to one specific company and being ignorant of what else is possible. One of many fantastic wrestling matches in the truest sense of the word. The match felt so believable, many of us thought Shingo could have won and advanced in the tournament. One of the best parts of seeing it live. You feel it all. Danielson wound up winning as expected, but boy oh boy did it look like he was put through the wringer. 

I would have been fine if Shingo won. Sometimes the unexpected makes for some intriguing programming. 

Danielson will be facing PAC in just days on Dynamite. He must be more machine than human. 

“Timeless” Toni Storm defeated Mini Shirakawa to retain the AEW Women’s Championship

Arguably one of the best matches of the night. Wrestling, drama, story. A total package of wrestling for mainstream audiences. The story was right. The wrestling is fantastic. The crowd was completely drawn in to whether Mariah May would choose or whether Shirakawa would defeat Storm for the championship. It felt as though Storm realized as confident as she typically is, this was the one where the confidence got shaken. The anticipation of losing May, anticipation of losing a championship. However, her resolve was rewarded in victory as both May and Shirakawa showed respect, and, uh… affection after the match. 

What happens next feels quite clear. Mariah May will likely win the Women’s bracket of the Owen Hart Memorial and challenge Toni Storm for the championship. All the emotions will come to a head. 

Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Orange Cassidy

Technical wrestling clinic. Textbook clinic. Wrestling finesse at its finest on display. If ZSJ made half of these moves up, no one would be the wiser as everything looked just so damn smooth in-person. More impressive, how OC managed to keep up with and pull of his own vault of versatility. One of the best qualities in a match like this, no way to be 100% confident in predicting a winner. However, tonight was not the night for Cassidy as his opponent expertly trapped and locked him in some sort of limb-twisting which had fans screaming “that’s not how arms and legs are supposed to move!” and force the tap out. ZSJ is an artist. The mat, his canvas. 

Joe’s Gym (Samoa Joe, Hook, and Katsuyori Shiabata) defeated The Learning Tree (Chris Jericho, Big Bill, and Jeff Cobb)

Hook scored the clean pinfall win by knocking out Jericho with his own move, the Judas Effect. Honestly, Hook did it better too. Joe and Cobb in the ring was the highlight, earning “meat” chants for every strike. 

But let’s be honestly clear. While some will jokingly cheer Jericho’s over-the-top PBS family hour shtick, “Hi Guys!” and all that, it became obvious painfully quickly how fast the live crowd couldn’t give a damn when this turned out to be the bathroom break/soda refill match of the night. Familiar chants of “please retire” echoed to which Jericho tried to play into, but didn’t work with the New York crowd. The only time Jericho got cheered was each time got knocked senseless. 

Jericho has a lot of gimmicks over the years to keep himself fresh and relevant, which in this industry is important. This one is a giant swing and a miss. 

Jack Perry claims the TNT Championship in a Six-Man Ladder Match (also featuring El Phantasmo, Lio Rush, Konosuke Takeshita, Dante Martin, Mark Briscoe)

Most predicted Jack Perry winning the title, adding more gold to The Elite. However, it is no secret Takeshita winning would have been a nice surprise. The fans at UBS Arena thought so. The match was full of ridiculous spots with ladders and tables, notably Mark Briscoe launching himself off the top of a ladder perched at ringside, bouncing off a prone Perry on a table, which didn’t break. Not sure how Briscoe survived it. El Phantasmo destroyed ladders by putting Lio Rush through them. Lots of high flying and death-defying spots which lead to believe these guys came out of it worse for wear. Takeshita plowing Phantasmo through two tables off the apron with the Super Spinning Blue Thunder Bomb was a sight. 

The end comes as Jack Perry knocks off Mark Briscoe to claim the championship. Did Briscoe really have a chance of winning? No, but it is nice to suspend beliefs once in a while. 

There’s a lot of debate about how The Elite gimmick continues moving forward. Is this a gold rush for the group in claiming all of AEW’s Championships? Okada defended the Continental Championship once, to my knowledge. Maybe twice. No one seems to be talking about the Tag Team Championships. If Perry did not win the TNT Championship, fans would likely feel more relief at being forced to play along with the EVP’s gimmick. It does appear split on whether this gimmick is working or not. If people hate the Bucks this much, does it mean it in fact, is working? They announced on Dynamite last week the mystery entrant in the tournament is an “Elite” choice. On Collision a curious return promo for “Hangman” Adam Page. 

Curious indeed. 

Mercedes Mone defeated Stephanie Vaquer to retain the TBS Championship and win the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion

This seemed pretty clear when the “title for title” stipulation was announced. However, this took nothing away from the match. Vaquer became a hit with the live crowd, and I imagine the same goes for the viewers at home. As the match progressed, the disdain towards Mone did the same. At some point an expletive chant towards the Celtics erupted. Either it was out of spite or Mone being from Boston. 

Vaquer outclassed Mone in both wrestling and charisma. She dominated the majority of the match, but after some reversals, fell to Mone’s finisher. 

I hate to say it, but where Mone excels in her appearance and supposed draw, this doesn’t seem to translate well in the long-term. Hearing it live, I really hate the pumped in “C-E-O” chant as part of her entrance theme. 

The boos directed towards Mone were deafening. Very close to Don Callis level of booing. 

However, all of us in the live crowd collectively lost our minds as one Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. returned and stared down the new double-champion. 

This one is easy booking. Dr. Baker wins the TBS Championship, while Mone takes the Strong Championship to do with whatever she pleases. Mone is unlikely to defend on TV, but Dr. Baker is. 

Tetsuya Naito defeated Jon Moxley for the IWGP World Championship

So much to unpack. The match was alright. Nothing to shout about. Just, good. Which for a title bout of this level, many expected more. Naito is not a young grappler, and Mox has only had a few days rest since his last matches in other promotions. The match turned into more of a fight for Mox, and more teasing and taunting from Naito. It was presented as a frustrated Moxley being unable to outsmart and put down the challenger. Naito reclaimed the championship, bringing it back to New Japan. 

Not the best match, but it unintentionally gave the live crowd the cool down it needed in preparation for one of the best main events I have seen live. Emphasis on the word, live. 

Swerve Strickland retains the AEW World Heavyweight Championship against Will Ospreay

Will Ospreay’s entrance included an amazing tribute to the late Hayabusa. His ring gear complemented the legend and wore an inspired mask down to the ring. Did Ospreay get in his own way? Was it hesitation or lack of conviction? Don Callis ran to ringside with the infamous screwdriver. Prince Nana interfered, which seemed to upset the challenger, and we nearly witnessed a stabbing live. The good Prince seemed to calm Ospreay down. 

How do I begin to discuss the match itself? From the intro to the final bell, they kept every person in the arena excited. I know, because I was there. Don’t go on Twitter and say the crowd was tired. I didn’t see it. I saw an estimated ten thousand fans completely enthralled. The level of athleticism and tactical wrestling was off the chart. Counters, exchanges, the fast pace shown from both were simply incredible to see live in person. 

Ospreay losing was a good decision. Having Callis as potential interference can be used as one of the reasons for the loss, but it will certainly lead to another low key story in the works, Ospreay ditching the Callis family for good. This week on Dynamite, Ospreay will defend his AEW International Championship against Daniel Garcia and we know from last week’s promo from Buffalo, MJF might not be too far behind as a future challenger. 

Ospreay will likely be heavily featured for All In at Wembley Stadium, so I expect a big main event feel for his match. 

I thoroughly enjoyed being present at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024.  After making the decision not to drive to Long Island and missed out on World’s End, I opted not to make the same regrettable decision twice. I was not disappointed. The last AEW show I went to, at Prudential, was good, but not to this level. Even Full Gear 2022, did not captivate me like this one live. However, Full Gear will have another opportunity this coming November, as the show will return to Prudential in New Jersey. 

The pre-show matches were far better than anticipated. As I said earlier, the order of matches, intentionally or not, worked well to give fans time to catch their breath for the next potential show-stealer. I believe many expected Mone/Vaquer and Mox/Naito to be such matches, but for one reason or another, didn’t achieve that potential. 

I would rank AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 as 4.5 / 5 stars. 

No one is perfect. 

AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2024 available on Bleacher Report and Triller TV

Michael Dworkis
Michael Dworkishttps://thepopbreak.com/author/mdworkis/
Michael Dworkis is a Senior Writer and has been part of the The Pop Break family since 2010. For over a decade he has contributed columns featuring Anime, Comics, Transformers, Television, Movies, and most notably, Professional Wrestling. Additionally, one of the key players in the original Angry Nerds column and a periodic guest on one of Bill's various podcasts. If not grinding away at his next feature, or shouting expletives while gaming or watching wrestling, Michael maintains a full-time job as a Mental Health Professional at a medical practice, and runs a telehealth private practice. Most importantly, all members of the household are required to memorize all Autobots and Decepticons in the collection. G1 Forever!
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