AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door 2023 Results: Winners, Live Grades, Reaction, Highlights

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door 2023 Results: Winners, Live Grades, Reaction, Highlights

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door 2023 Results: Winners, Live Grades, Reaction, Highlights

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door. AEW

    Welcome to Bleacher Report’s live coverage and recap of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door in Toronto.

    This will be the second co-branded event between All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling, but unlike last year’s show, injuries didn’t prevent Gedo and Tony Khan from putting together the card they wanted.

    Here is a look at the full lineup:

    • Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
    • Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship)
    • Sanada vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry (IWGP World Heavyweight Championship)
    • MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (AEW World Heavyweight Championship)
    • Sting, Darby Allin and Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho, Minoru Suzuki and Sammy Guevara
    • CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima (Men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament)
    • Orange Cassidy vs. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Daniel Garcia vs. Katsuyori Shibata (AEW International Championship)
    • Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale (AEW Women’s World Championship)
    • Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita and Shota Umino vs. The Young Bucks, Adam Page, Eddie Kingston and Tomohiro Ishii
    • The Mogul Embassy vs. El Desperado and Chaos
    • Athena vs. Billie Starkz (Women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament)
    • Jeff Cobb, Kyle Fletcher and TJP vs. Shingo Takagi, Bushi and Hiromu Takahashi
    • Stu Grayson vs. El Phantasmo

    Make sure to refresh the page throughout the night for the most up-to-date results.

Mogul Embassy vs. Chaos, Athena vs. Billie Starkz

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    The one-hour pre-show for this event included four matches. Grading might be a bit stricter since the bar has been set so high.

    They will all be recapped on this page to keep it concise. Renee Young and RJ City welcomed us to the show and ran down the card.

    Chaos vs. Mogul Embassy

    Strickland, Kaun, Liona and Cage took on Beretta, Taylor, Romero and Desperado in a big eight-man tag match to get the action going.

    Most six- and eight-man tag matches in AEW follow a similar pattern. Both sides trade control several times so all eight competitors can be on offense and defense. These bouts are always fun, but they rarely feel distinct from one another.

    Everyone did a good job and got the crowd hyped for the show, which is all that was expected of them.

    Mogul Embassy scored the win when Swerve hit a double stomp on Romero.

    Winners: Mogul Embassy

    Grade: B-

    Billie Starkz vs. Athena

    The women’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament continued with Starkz vs. Athena in the second match on the pre-show. The recent high school graduate was able to get the upper hand and even scored the first near-fall, but the ROH women’s champion eventually turned it around.

    They had a couple of missteps, but most of this match was hard-hitting and allowed both women to shine. The final few minutes woke the crowd up when they started hitting bigger spots. Athena winning was predictable but also the right call.

    Winner: Athena

    Grade: B-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Having the English and Japanese ring announcers for this show was a great touch. 
    • The ROH six-man titles might need to be retired at some point. Management has barely done anything with them since the show relaunched. 
    • Starkz has some good kicks. She and Athena were hitting each other hard with every strike.
    • There was an awkward moment when Athena fell even though Starkz didn’t land a kick, but Athena recovered by grabbing her in a headscissor. 

Stu Grayson vs. El Phantasmo

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    Stu Grayson vs. El Phantasmo

    The third match on the pre-show saw Grayson accompanied by Vincent and Dutch to take on El Phantasmo.

    Grayson immediately took control by grounding ELP for some punches, but the high-flyer didn’t stay down for long.

    This wasn’t a squash, but it was definitely designed to make Grayson look good. He controlled the pace for most of the match while still allowing Phantasmo to have some standout moments. Surprisingly, ELP was able to get a clean win.

    Winner: El Phantasmo

    Grade: C+

    United Empire vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon

    Kyle Fletcher, TJP and Jeff Cobb represented United Empire against LIJ’s Bushi, Hiromu Takahashi and Shingo Takagi in the final pre-show match.

    This was mayhem from the moment the bell rang. All six men began fighting and it took a few minutes before it was down to TJP and Bushi as the legal men.

    This was a competitive match that came to a close with Takagi hitting his finisher on TJP for the win. This was short but energetic, so the crowd had fun.

    Winners: Los Ingobernables de Japon

    Grade: C+

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • ELP’s jacket was awesome. It was reminiscent of Jericho’s old WWE jackets that lit up. 
    • Phantasmo’s haircut was similar to Logan Paul’s. Take that however you want. 
    • The suicide dive from Phantasmo was fantastic, and so was the 450 from Grayson. 
    • Cobb’s power is incredible. He was able to power up Bushi with almost no leverage for a suplex. 

MJF vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

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    MJF went to Tony Khan and requested that his match against Tanahashi go on first so he could get out of Toronto as fast as possible, so the AEW world title bout kicked off the main show.

    MJF taunted Tanahashi by mocking his walk before they locked up. The Japanese star took him down and played some air guitar to show he wasn’t intimidated. The champ tried to walk out of the match, but his rival got a “Coward” chant going to entice him back into the ring.

    The Long Island native used some cheap tactics to get the advantage. He kept the pace slow and interacted with the crowd a lot to generate heat.

    They did a lot of storytelling in this bout instead of making this a work-rate match. They had some good technical precision, but this contest was never going to live up to some of the others on the card, so they were smart to try something different.

    Tanahashi was able to hit his signature dragon screw leg whip before locking in a cloverleaf, but MJF got to the bottom rope to force a break. The champ was able to use the Dynamite Diamond ring to hit a cheap shot and get the pin.

    This was a decent bout, but it’s unlikely this will be anyone’s Match of the Night.

    Winner: MJF

    Grade: B-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • This was Tanahashi’s second shot at the AEW title after he faced Jon Moxley last year. 
    • MJF is great at projecting his voice so the whole crowd can hear him in the ring. 
    • Using the top rope for leverage during an abdominal stretch is such a classic heel move. 
    • MJF did a lot of great selling in this match. He looked convincing when he sold an injured knee after hitting a shoulderbreaker. 

CM Punk vs. Satoshi Kojima

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    We got a match in the men’s Owen Hart Cup Tournament when CM Punk battled Satoshi Kojima in the second match on the main card.

    They started with some simple chain wrestling. A small “CM Punk” chant was immediately drowned out by boos as he took control.

    They ended up fighting at ringside where Kojima sent Punk over the barricade into the timekeeper’s area with a stiff chop. Whenever Punk tried to trade strikes, his opponent would make him regret it.

    This match ended up being longer than expected, but not in a bad way. Both men were having fun while beating the life out of each other, and that always makes it more entertaining for the crowd.

    After both men failed to get a pin with an elbow drop from the top rope, Punk applied the Anaconda Vice. Kojima escaped and managed to counter the GTS twice before The Second City Savior finally hit it for the win.

    Winner: CM Punk

    Grade: B

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Punk was getting way more boos than cheers during his entrance. He didn’t seem bothered by it at all. 
    • Kojima’s chop to send Punk over the barricade looked great. Punk sold it perfectly. 
    • Punk yelling “Lariat” and “Kojima” as he hit several corner clotheslines was hilarious. 
    • Kojima’s elbow drop looked like it hit Punk below the belt. 

Orange Cassidy vs. Daniel Garcia vs. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    The AEW International Championship was on the line in a Fatal 4-Way match when Cassidy put the title on the line against Garcia, Shibata and ZSJ.

    All four men sized each other up and had a standoff in the middle of the ring. OC hit all three men with the laziest kicks ever before all three opponents caught his leg and tossed it back and forth like they were playing catch.

    Shibata and Sabre kept shoving Garcia away so they could trade shots. When Garcia started dancing at them, they both took him down at the same time. Whenever they had a chance, Shibata and Sabre tried to go after each other.

    Garcia tried and failed to win the match by hitting Shibata with the title at one point. We got every combination of opponents working with each other throughout the match, so we saw some fun dynamics at play with different pairings.

    The crowd loved every second of this one and it was easy to see why. Everyone played to their strengths and worked together to make this the best match of the night up to this point.

    Cassidy was able to steal the win by shoving Shibata out of the ring after he had hit Garcia with his finisher and then making the cover for the win. The three champions all argued about whose title was the most important after the match was over.

    Winner: Orange Cassidy

    Grade: A-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Excalibur calling Tony Schiavone a dirtbag on commentary was a little out of left field. 
    • Garcia has gotten so much funnier since joining the JAS. He does so many little things that are hilarious like flexing during his submissions. 
    • Shibata’s transitions when he moves from one hold to the next are so smooth. 
    • The way Sabre was punishing Cassidy’s hand was brutal. 

Sanada vs. Jack Perry

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    The IWGP Heavyweight Championship was on the line when Sanada defended his title against Jungle Boy. Hook was at ringside to support his tag team partner.

    Perry was able to lock in the Snare Trap early in the match, but Sanada immediately made it to the ropes because he was still fresh and uninjured.

    The longer the match went, the more physical it became. Both men ended up on the mat after a particularly tough exchange and started throwing chops before they stood up.

    Jungle Boy used Sanada’s own signature hold against him, but he was unable to get the win. This led to both men trying to outdo each other with various moves.

    The match ended when Sanada hit a moonsault for the pin. It seemed like the crowd was a little surprised that this was the finish, and it almost seemed like it might not have been the planned ending. This was a good performance, but the ending was a bit strange.

    When they got to the stage, Perry turned on Hook and laid him out with a clothesline. The crowd booed and chanted as Hook was lying with his head in his hands.

    Winner: Sanada

    Grade: B

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • This was the second match in a row where you could say Perry had a slight size advantage, which is rare for him. Sanada may have been a bit stronger, though. 
    • Jungle Boy hit a nice suicide dive and landed on his feet to pose for the crowd. 
    • It was great that the announcers detailed the rules of this match and why they were different since the IWGP title was on the line. 
    • Both men had some deep red marks on their chests from chopping each other so hard. 

Team Elite vs. Team BCC

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    Kingston and Ishii teamed up with Page and The Young Bucks to take on the Blackpool Combat Club, Takeshita and Umino in a huge 10-man tag match. As expected, Don Callis was by Takeshita’s side.

    Castagnoli and Kingston were going to start but when Umino tagged in instead, Kingston tagged right out to Page because he only cared about fighting The Swiss Superman.

    For the first several minutes, this was mostly a respectable match. We saw some double-team moves, but it was mostly one-on-one exchanges with frequent tags.

    When Kingston and Moxley ended up in the ring together, everything came to a standstill. Mox took the first shot and yelled at Kingston to hit him back. After they traded blows for a bit, all 10 men got into the ring and started brawling.

    For a couple of minutes, there was a lot of chaos all around the ring. They eventually got back to their corners and the BCC started taking The Mad King apart.

    This match had so much going on that you really need to see it for yourself. Every single wrestler had at least one or two moments that stood out, which is not always easy with this many people in the ring at once.

    After a great final sequence, Ishii scored the win for his team by pinning Yuta with a brainbuster. Kingston ended up arguing with The Elite but walked to the back without incident.

    Winners: Team Elite

    Grade: A-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Taz left the commentary booth between matches to take care of Hook, so Schiavone joined the table to replace him. 
    • The way Mox was avoiding looking at Kingston before the match was a nice touch. 
    • Takeshita and Ishii duking it out was a great sequence. They were not holding back much at all. 
    • Page’s moonsault always looks phenomenal. 
    • Hangman countering Takeshita’s diving clothesline with a spinning forearm was an awesome spot. 
    • Takeshita was selling everything in this match like he was being killed over and over again. It was great. 

Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    Toni Storm put the AEW Women’s World Championship on the line against Willow Nightingale on Sunday night, but the champion didn’t come alone. Ruby Soho and Saraya were right there at ringside.

    Storm rolled out of the ring after their first exchange to find her footing after a little error, but once they reset and engaged again, they started to work.

    The rest of the Outcasts attacked Nightingale while the ref was distracted, giving Storm a clear advantage from early in the match.

    The NJPW Strong women’s champion eventually made a comeback and hit a huge Death Valley Driver on the apron. She hit a second one in the ring but only got a two-count.

    The ref kicked Soho and Saraya from ringside after they tried to slip the green spray to Storm.

    This was a decent performance, but the interference was predictable and a little excessive. It made sense because of the feud AEW has been building for The Outcasts, but it would have been nice to get at least one clean match from the champion on PPV.

    In the end, that’s a minor complaint. Both women made some small mistakes but the match as a whole was a good showing. The champ retained her title by raking Nightingale’s eyes and hitting Storm Zero for the pin.

    Winner: Toni Storm

    Grade: B-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • After their first lockup, they both fell over when they lost balance. They covered it up well, but it was pretty obvious that was not how it was supposed to happen. 
    • Storm also almost missed completely with her running hip strike. 
    • Nightingale almost dropped Storm right on her head with the Death Valley Driver. 
    • The moonsault from Nightingale looked great. 
    • The Pounce is her best move. 

Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay

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    Ospreay was looking to regain the IWGP United States Championship he lost at Wrestle Kingdom 17 when he stepped back into the ring with Omega for only their second singles match.

    Both men got great reactions during their entrances, but Omega was clearly the fan favorite. Not only was he the babyface champion, but he was also in his home country.

    The first match they had on January 4 stole the show and you could tell they were looking to do the same thing here just from their posture and facial expressions. They were as serious as it gets.

    They seemed like they were pacing themselves at first, but after about a minute, both men started trying to hit some of their biggest moves on each other.

    Callis tried to grab Omega’s leg and the ref booted him from ringside. That allowed everyone to focus solely on the match in the ring from that point forward.

    Anyone who is familiar with the abilities of Omega and Ospreay already knows this was a great match. It’s tough to say if they outdid their previous performance because they felt like totally different matches. The first one was all about the tension of their first-ever singles bout whereas this one was about them trying to hurt each other.

    The Cleaner was busted open when Ospreay slammed his head into the announce table several times. Omega did the same thing to him on the steel steps a few minutes later. They were both a bloody mess by the time they got back into the ring.

    They each scored several near-falls as they started showing signs of the wear and tear they had suffered. Each time they went down, it took a little longer to get to their feet again. Callis made another appearance and hid behind his security guards in the aisle as Omega drilled Ospreay with a stiff knee.

    Callis passed Ospreay his screwdriver while he was keeping the ref busy. He used it to escape the One-Winged Angel and hit the Stormbreaker, but Omega got his foot on the rope to break the pin.

    Ospreay used Omega’s own V-Trigger and One-Winged Angel against him, but The Cleaner kicked out at one to get a massive pop from the crowd. The challenger dumped him right on his head with a Tiger Driver 91 but still couldn’t get the pin. He finally got the three-count after another Stormbreaker to regain the IWGP U.S. title.

    Winner: Will Ospreay

    Grade: A+

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Callis and a pair of masked security guards flanked Ospreay for his entrance. 
    • The crowd was chanting before they even did anything interesting. That is how hyped the fans were for this bout. 
    • Ospreay had a beautiful counter for a hip toss into an abdominal stretch. 
    • The way Ospreay slammed Omega’s head into the announce table was nuts. 
    • Ospreay disrespected the Canadian flag in several ways, but Omega turned him inside out with a clothesline to make him pay for it. 
    • There were too many cool spots here to list them all. 

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

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    Forbidden Door.

    Forbidden Door.AEW

    The penultimate match of the night was the six-man tag bout with Jericho, Guevara and Suzuki taking on Sting, Allin and Naito. Even though they were the heels, the crowd readily sang both “Judas” and “Kaze Ni Nare.”

    Naito and Guevara started for their teams and took their time getting into it. The Spanish God dodged Naito a couple of times to mess with him, so Naito kicked him in the gut. Both men posed to taunt each other before they started taking the match seriously.

    When Sting tagged in, Jericho begged Suzuki to tag him so the former WCW stars could face off for the first time in a match. Suzuki attacked The Icon from behind to give Jericho the advantage. This kicked off a brawl with all six men.

    This was a good one to stick between Ospreay vs. Omega and Danielson vs. Okada. This was never going to be a Match of the Year candidate, so it worked as a great break between the two most anticipated bouts on the card.

    Even though this wasn’t a show-stealer, it was still an entertaining bout, especially when Suzuki was in the ring. After a bit of a back-and-forth, Naito was able to keep Suzuki down for the pin to get the victory.

    Winners: Sting, Darby Allin and Tetsuya Naito

    Grade: B-

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • Jericho and Suzuki being friends has never really made sense, but they always make it work. 
    • The announcers telling people not to look directly into Suzuki’s eyes for their own safety was pretty funny. 
    • Sting had a unique version of his face paint this time. It almost gave off “Joker” vibes but in a different way than his TNA look did. 
    • Hearing a “Murder Grandpa” chant for Suzuki was hilarious. Suzuki slapping Allin to the mat with one shot was just as funny. 
    • Guevara botched his cutter from the top rope and hit Sting right on top of the head with his elbow. The Stinger was fine, but it was almost much worse. 
    • The Judas Effect to counter a suicide dive looked great because you couldn’t see it coming. 

Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada

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    The main event of the night was arguably the most anticipated match we will see all year. Danielson entered the arena to his old entrance music, “The Final Countdown” by Europe to battle Okada for the first time ever.

    The fans were chanting “This is awesome” before they even made any contact. They locked up and immediately began trading holds, counters and takedowns as the crowd switched to a much less PG chant.

    Even though they were working at a brisk pace and making everything look good, you could see they were pacing themselves and saving the big spots for later in the match.

    Danielson quickly found out how tough Okada is when he not only withstood several chops but also invited The American Dragon to hit him harder. Danielson was more than happy to oblige.

    Both men avoided each other’s signature moves several times before they took the fight out of the ring. Okada hit a tombstone piledriver on the ramp to turn the tide completely in his favor. After Okada hit a flying elbow drop, Danielson began to convulse and the ref called for the doctor to check on him.

    The American Dragon popped up and hit the Flying Knee, but he was too hurt to make the cover. He countered a German suplex and hit a second knee for a two-count before saying he was going to “kick Okada’s f–king head in.”

    After a long struggle to get it locked in, Danielson made Okada tap out to win the match and completely shock the crowd. A lot of people seemed surprised by this outcome, but once it sunk in, everyone gave both men a round of applause.

    This might not have reached the same level of excitement as Ospreay vs. Omega, but this match was as technically sound as it gets. This probably won’t be their only encounter.

    Winner: Bryan Danielson

    Grade: A

    Notable Moments and Observations

    • The video package before this match was awesome. Props to whoever put it together. 
    • The surfboard is one of those moves that almost never looks natural, but Danielson makes it look good when he puts it on. 
    • Okada took a big risk by hitting a crossbody over the barricade near some fans. He is lucky he didn’t accidentally catch one with his foot. 
    • Danielson was adding some extra spice to his kicks in this match. 

The Final Word

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    As a whole, the second edition of Forbidden Door was a huge success. The crowd was hot, the matches were intense, and a few of the outcomes were genuinely surprising.

    Obviously, this is going to be subjective, but the match of the night was probably Ospreay vs. Omega. They took each other to the limit and produced something completely different from their first match at Wrestle Kingdom.

    Even if you could pinpoint the weakest contest on the card, it wasn’t bad. Everyone showed up on Sunday to put on a great show and they did just that.

    Punk getting such a negative reaction will serve his inevitable heel turn well. And speaking of heel turns, Perry finally taking the plunge and attacking Hook is going to kick off a fun feud between the two young stars.

    Kingston and Moxley’s story isn’t over, and it looked like there was some unfinished business between Sting and Jericho at the end of their trios bout, so we will likely see some of these storylines continue this week on Dynamite, Rampage and Collision.

    The presentation of the show was top-notch, and we were left with a handful of memorable matches. What was your favorite moment from the night?

    Grade: A

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