8 Ups & 1 Down From AEW X NJPW Forbidden Door 2023 (Review)


1. That Didn't Feel Like A Party Match

Tetsuya Naito

If, for example, Chris Jericho had aimed his lionsault directly into Tetsuya Naito's knees in a match drenched in a party atmosphere, it wouldn't have mattered much. A certain latitude is extended to the Sting Party Match in 2023. People are aware that he isn't the same performer that he was even at last year's show. They'll take the odd flub.

The problem is that Jericho and Naito didn't work particularly well together in a match, Los Stingobernables Vs. Le Suzuki Gods, with cursed vibes. It simply wasn't fun; if anything, it was scary, and went off the rails entirely following a much too ambitious spot that was executed disastrously. Sammy Guevara attempted to break up a Scorpion deathlock by hitting Sting with a cutter from the top rope. He collided into Sting head-first, and the match lost all cohesion and momentum thereafter. The flow was disjointed, the atmosphere anxious.

At various points, certain sequences were good - the apparently broken Tetsuya Naito looked fast and up for it in an exchange with Sammy Guevara, Guevara and Darby always go nuts, Darby literally threw himself into Minoru Suzuki's schtick - but this genre has to be more than the sum of its parts to work, and it wasn't.

Positioning this as the buffer between the two dream matches was a smart idea, but it felt nothing like a shot of adrenaline on the night.


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!