All Elite Wrestling
AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2023
June 25, 2023
Scotiabank Arena
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Watch: PPV, B/R Live, FITE (Non-US)

Meet our reviewers:

Jeri Evagood: Can it be? IT IS! JERI EVAGOOD IS ACTUALLY DOING SOMETHING FOR THE WEBSITE SHE CLAIMS TO BE A PART OF! That’s right, this review has gotten 110 percent cuter so back the fuck up. I’m not here for cinema, I’m here for pro-freaking-wrestling and it’s going to be great tonight, and you can’t tell me different. Spare me your moving the goalposts, your half-assed weak arguments about “WHO KNOWS WHO THEY ARE!?!?”, your over-dramatic whining about lack of stories and casuals, who cares, not me. I’m here for some great pro wrestling, and tonight is going to deliver. The hyped grabbed me by the throat (don’t worry I enjoyed it) and pulled me in. Let’s do this! Follow me at @TheJerriest_Jer but be warned I talk about quite a bit of non-wrestling stuff of the adult content variety!

Brady Trappett: It’s pro wrestling Christmas and I am here to spread the holiday cheer by reviewing what is sure to be a great show. If you like the review, you can find my other work right here on Voices of Wrestling and you can follow me at @BradyHasTakes.

Forbidden Door Zero Hour
Mogul Embassy (Swerve Strickland, Toa Liona, Brian Cage, and Bishop Kaun)  def. CHAOS (Trent Beretta, Rocky Romero, and Chuck Taylor) & El Desperado

Jeri: The important thing about this match was…. Despy did indeed take part in the group hug during the match. The people got what they wanted. Well I did. First match I’ve watched in months and it had Despy in it, the closest proof that God exists I’ve ever been given. A standard get the crowd excited for the show match, which isn’t a negative at all. Standard, straight forward, picks up near the end, but overall fun. *** 1/4

Brady:  Pretty standard eight man tag here if you ask anyone but Toa Liona, who sacrificed his spine for the opener. CHAOS and Despy controlled the opening portion of this match before building to a Trent hot tag to Despy, and more importantly, a group hug with Despy in the middle. This picked up in the back third, but it wasn’t going out there to set the house on fire. *** 1/4

Forbidden Door Zero Hour
Women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament First Round
Athena def. Billie Starkz

Jeri: This match give Billie Starkz some moments to shine, and she also made me cringe out loud by missing a senton on the apron. Billie Starkz is improving from where she started, and the more and more seasoning she gets the better she can potentially be. Athena though has the experience, has the hard hits, and in the end is the one that goes over. While the match felt like it dragged to me at times, it did pick up when it needs to, the battling dropkicks was fun, and it wasn’t a bad little match. ***

Brady: Athena started this match by faking the Code of Honor in the ultimate show of disrespect. As expected, Athena’s offense in this one was hard hitting, but Billie got more shine than I thought she would. Billie must have taken some notes from Toa Liona in the back as she also sacrificed her spine for the business with a missed senton on the apron. Slow start but finished well. ***

Forbidden Door Zero Hour
El Phantasmo def. Stu Grayson

Jeri: Fun fun fun. This was a lot of fun. Both guys got a chance to showcase themselves, the crowd was having fun, we got tittie twisters by El Phantasmo thrown in for good measure, and I have nothing really bad to say about this match, I had a good time watching it. This has been a reasonable pre-show so far. *** 1/4

Brady: I’ll be honest with everyone here, I haven’t been watching ROH so I had no idea Stu Grayson was a part of The Righteous, so I was surprised to see him working heel here. This was a bunch of fun, both guys got to do their spots and there were even a couple of nice nearfalls, culminating in a tornado DDT and CR2 from ELP for the win. *** 1/2

Forbidden Door Zero Hour
Los Ingobernables de Japon (Hiromu Takahashi, Shingo Takagi, BUSHI) def. United Empire (Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher, and TJP)

Jeri: I wish this match could’ve gotten more time, but alas it’s on pre-show countdown time not my own. This is a lot of talent to pack into one match, and I’m all for it. What we got though, was very very entertaining, and how could it not be with who we had in the ring? This was probably my favorite of the pre-show matches with everyone working hard and well to put on a short but entertaining affair. *** 1/2

Brady: Everyone knows this card is insanely stacked, but it really sinks in when you see Shingo and Hiromu walking down the ramp on the preshow. When you have this many guys of this caliber with less than 15 minutes, it’s hard to give everyone focus. They were able to accomplish that for the most part and got me excited about a possible Shingo Takagi and Kyle Fletcher match as a bonus. This match was worked at a crazy pace and I had a blast. *** 1/2

AEW World Championship
MJF © def. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Jeri: Match was EXACTLY what it needed to be. Tanahashi has lost a few steps, his knees are in awful shape, but he knows how to have the crowd in the palm of his hand and that’s all he need. Put him in there with MJF who is easy to root against, and who knows how to play his part, this turned out to be a highly entertaining first match. I’m getting tired of the Dynamite Diamond Ring being used as a finisher, but it worked well here with all the shenanigans and story being told. A delightful first match that the crowd was highly entertained by. *** 1/2

Brady: Even from the entrances for the main show opener, it is clear tonight is going to be special. Crazy heat and a lot of schtick to start, which isn’t surprising. MJF even attempted to leave before being taunted to come back in by Tanahashi and the crowd. This was old school, a lengthy abdominal stretch from MJF, Bryce kicking his hand from the ropes, even a Flair style back drop from the top. This match was laid out perfectly, complete with the traditional MJF knee injury and the Dynamite Diamond Ring for the finish. *** 3/4

Men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament First Round
CM Punk def. Satoshi Kojima

Jeri: CM Punk was an asshole in this match. Okay, he’s an asshole in real life also, but let’s focus on this match, he was a grade A premium upgrade asshole. He needled the crowd, needled Kojima, and needled us who was watching at home. It worked very well. Kojima ruled as well. He kept the pace going, got his stuff in, had the crowd cheering for him. This was great, and (I’m going to get hell for this) a better match than we would’ve gotten if KENTA was involved. I know, I know, that’s what we all wanted, but this match was great and I’m glad we got it. This was an excellent Owen Hart cup match, and this tournament is already feeling a hundred times better than last year. ****

Brady: Kevin Kelly said it best last night on Collision. We’re not in Chicago anymore. A LOUD mixed reaction for CM Punk and you can tell he’s having the time of his life. Crazy heat to start this one. This crowd was less mixed than it was for Collision and Punk is firmly a heel. Punk is in his element as a heel. He was counting his punches in Japanese, he was yelling at the camera while doing corner lariats, he took the chops in two corners back to back, he even did a leg drop, brother. A great heel performance from Punk, goofier than you would expect but it absolutely worked with the crowd. ****

AEW International Championship
Orange Cassidy © def. Zack Sabre Jr., Katsuyori Shibata & Daniel Garcia

Jeri: How can I count all the ways I loved this match? Garcia haming it up and making his moments count, Zack and Shibata hating each other, and Orange Cassidy once again finding himself in a position to figure out how to continue his title reign through it all. This had a lot of components, and they all came together beautifully in an excellent four way. I’m always of mixed feelings with four ways but this one worked very well. I want any one on one combination of any of these four men facing each other. The crowd was into it, I was into it, you better be into it. This ruled. ****

Brady: This match was a bunch of fun. Worked like a modern four way with group spots and interesting combinations while someone got to take a break on the outside. Despite this being  for Orange Cassidy’s title, Shibata was the centerpiece for most of this match. He got a one on one exchange with every member of the match. An awesome finish as Orange once again finds a way to escape with his championship. This match got me excited about all the possible permutations of matches between these guys in the future. ****1/2

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship
SANADA © def. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry

Jeri: Red Shoes got a huge chang to start the match, good for him. I’ve always liked Red Shoes. This match was pretty darn entertaining. I didn’t go in with very high expectations, but it transformed into a very solid title defense for SANADA and a good outing for Jack Perry even in losing. They were able to keep up a nice pace that never got boring, and both men were able to showcase themselves very well. That said it was apparent that SANADA is quite ahead of Jungle Boy, but Jungle Boy managed to work hard enough to showcase he belong, and the post match sucker shot at Hook might give Jungle Boy a fresh coat of paint moving forward that will really help him develop. Time will tell.  All and all, this was great. ****

Brady: This is the match I worried about the most from a crowd reaction perspective. As everyone predicted, this match started off with a Red Shoes chant, and Red Shoes really basked in it until SANADA forced him to get his head in the game. This benefitted from being lower on the card than a normal SANADA title defense and being a faster pace. Jungle Boy was outclassed for most of this but that’s what really made the post-match work. Jack sold the heel turn perfectly and I’m intrigued with what this means for him going forward. ****

The Elite (Hangman Page, The Young Bucks, Eddie Kingston, and Tomohiro Ishii) def. Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Wheeler Yuta, and Claudio Castagnoli), Konosuke Takeshita, and Shota Umino

Jeri: I let out an audible LET’S FUCKING GO in my apartment when I realize this match was going to happen next. My poor cat will have to forgive me. Everyone was the epitome of “I’m going to kill you” before the match even got started. This had emotional, hard hits, energy, story, passion, chaos, violence all wrapped tightly into a tight package of excellent pro-wrestling. You had Kingston conflicted with how to approach Moxley, you had Takeshita’s confict with The Elite, you had Claudio and Kingston’s hatred for each other, you had this, you had that, you had layers upon layers of action, story, moments, and this is what I want out of a match with so many different moving parts and components going on at once. This was fantastic. The best thign SO FAR tonight and I was into it before the bell even rung until the very end. It grapped me, it excited me, it made me remember how pro-wrestling once made me feel, it made me feel alive, made me feel like a young girl gripping the edges of her couch as her heroes and her villains clashed against each other. Oh damn, I got to stop rambling, but this match sparked so much energy and emotion into me and it just… it just fucking ruled okay. **** 1/2

Brady: The energy that Blackpool Combat Club creates with their entrance is special. Every one of them looks like a killer and it made for a tense start to the match. Sometimes pro wrestling just needs to be a fight, and that’s what this was when Kingston and Moxley exchanged chops for several minutes straight while anarchy unfolded around them. And when Takeshita blasted Ishii with a forearm. And when Hangman hit Takeshita with a nasty discus forearm. This was the perfect way to do a cross-promotional match and still move your story along. Kingston saved Mox from a double superkick but later, when Kingston was alone in the ring, Moxley did not hesitate to hit Kingston with a cutter. Insanity in the best way. Elite and BCC deliver once again. **** 1/2

AEW Women’s World Championship
Toni Storm © def. Willow Nightingale

Jeri: Good title match. Willow is just bubbling with massive amounts of positive energy I can’t help but cheer for her whenever I see her, especially against someone like Toni Storm and her cohorts. They worked a solid match, and it was very entertaining, but unfortunately had a sudden ending that came a little too quick for my tastes, but ultimately this match ended up achieving what it needed to do. I was worried this would be a cool down match, but it ended up working out on it’s own rights and merit and I’m glad they were able to put on some good slid performances that landed into a fun title match. *** 1/4

Brady: It’s always hard to follow a match like the last one, but they did a good job here. There was physical work that kept the crowd in it and they even threw in the ref ejection spot as a bonus. Unfortunately, what this match was initially supposed to be hung over it a little bit for me, but this stood on its own just fine. *** 1/2

IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship
Will Ospreay def. Kenny Omega ©

Jeri: Bloody, violent, brutal, emotional match. One of the greatest versus one who continues to make their steps toward being one of the greatest. A rematch that looked like a grand slam on paper, and ended up being back to back grandslams in execution. A tremendous affair of pro-wrestling with Ospreay and Omega channeling something visceral and primal against each other as they took it to each other with very little if any let up. Yes, there was some Don Callis shenanigans but it wasn’t the driver of the match nor was it the main focus. In the end Ospreay was willing to do anything… ANYTHING to defeat Omega, even use a screwdriver, even use Ibushi’s finisher, even using the one wing angel. But Omega, Omega made him earn it, refusing to stay down, refusing to die, coming back again and again. Both men had blood soak their faces, both men dripping with sweat and exhaustion. Neither taking a step back and always taking a step forward. Everything I want in my big time, big feel pro-wrestling match. This was amazing, excellent, tremendous. This was a god tier pro-wrestling match that touches that rarified air that only a select few matches get to touch. I hope we get a rubber match, we need it, I crave it, GIVE IT TO ME! *****

Brady: There are few things I love more than a bell pop, and we got an all timer. If you have yet to watch this match, please do yourself a favor and watch the first right before you watch this one. This was a role reversal of the first match, even down to Omega reaching for the championship afterwards. Another all time caliber match from these two that completely flies in the face of the most prevalent criticisms that people have of them. This was nasty. This was brutal. This was bloody. Even more than the first. This match took the best of Japanese wrestling and the best of American wrestling and gave us a result that may never be topped and will definitely never be forgotten. Professional wrestling at its absolute best. Beautiful violence. *****

Le Suzuki Gods (Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara and Minoru Suzuki) vs. Sting, Darby Allin & Tetsuya Naito

Jeri: It was cool to see Naito team with Allin and Sting. That much was very fun. If I could use a term to describe the match, it would be aggressively fine. I don’t think anything was wrong with it but it definitely didn’t click any high gears or second gears like that. It was a acceptable match that was sandwiched between two major matches. It served it’s purpose, I didn’t hate it, and in the end it gave us some fun. ** 3/4

Brady: This went out there to be a palate cleanser and it was well on its way until we had a scary spot with Sammy Guevera landing on Sting’s head and then another spot where Sammy hit a 630 to Sting through a table. The rest of this was fun, Suzuki in particular was very good. I had fun with this, but Sting does not need to do stuff like this. ** 1/2

Bryan Danielson def. Kazuchika Okada

Jeri: IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN! I cried, screw you, I cried. If you had decided to ask me to predict the ending, Danielson making Okada tapped would’ve never been my guess, but I absolutely loved that finish. I loved that it was a finish I couldn’t of predicted, and I love that Bryan Danielson got that victory so freaking much. This was a much different match than Ospreay/Omega, a different energy and a different vibe, but that’s not a bad thing, just an observation. This was more two wrestlers trying to out wrestle (and at times strike) each other as oppose to trying to beat the living shit out of each other. That said, it was great. Did it reach the heights that expectations and hype wanted it to? Probably not? Was it a great main event? Also yes. Not all dream matches end up being matches of the century, most don’t actually. What I wanted was an enjoyable main event with a clean ending, and that is what I got. Well wrestled, well executed, and I really thought it was a good main event. I can’t help but feel, Okada is getting that win back, and I’m looking forward to it.  **** 1/2

Brady: It’s the final countdown. A match a decade in the making. This crowd is absolutely gassed after what has been a pantheon show. This was good, how could it not be, but I would be lying if I said it met my expectations. This had all the moments you could want out of Danielson vs. Okada, but you can tell they’re leaving something in the tank for the future, and I don’t feel like it kicked into that final gear that I was expecting. What it did have was shock value. If you had asked me for one result that was an absolute lock on this show, it was Okada over Danielson. If you had asked me how Danielson would get the win (long shot, right?), I would have had probably half a dozen guesses before I got to an Okada tap out. It was going to be impossible to follow Ospreay and Omega but this got me excited for the inevitable rematch. **** 1/4