On last night’s episode of AEW Dynamite, it was revealed that MJF will defend the AEW World Championship against NJPW star Hiroshi Tanahashi at this month’s AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door 2023 PPV.
Tanahashi competed in the main event of last year’s Forbidden Door PPV, where he faced Jon Moxley in a match to crown the Interim AEW World Champion, and lost.
According to the Wrestling Observer, New Japan Pro Wrestling officials aren’t interested in protecting Tanahashi as a top star anymore, and that’s why he has been booked in a match against MJF, so he can lose and MJF can claim victory over a top name:
“2 Years ago, that would’ve been great. But the last Forbidden Door title match was Moxley and Tanahashi, and Tanahashi lost.
I know politically, Tanahashi is now a guy… for years and years and years and years, Tanahashi, [Kazuchika] Okada, [Tetsuya] Naito, and who was the fourth guy… Kota Ibushi or someone, it actually might have been Kenny Omega now that I think about it, but there are four guys that New Japan was like, ‘If we come to the United States,’ or whatever, like when they were working with Ring of Honor, it’s like, ‘You can’t beat these guys. You can do whatever you want.’ It was [Shinsuke] Nakamura who was the fourth guy at the time. And at other points, AJ [Styles] was as well.
The point is that you couldn’t. And then Tanahashi is no longer on that list, so he’s a star who can lose, and that’s why he wrestled Moxley on the last Forbidden Door show.”
Below is the current match-card for Forbidden Door 2023:
– AEW World Championship Match: MJF (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi
– Bryan Danielson vs. Kazuchika Okada
– IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship Match: Kenny Omega (c) vs. Will Ospreay
– IWGP World Heavyweight Championship Match: Sanada (c) vs. “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry
– AEW International Championship Match: Orange Cassidy (c) vs. NJPW TV Champion Zack Sabre Jr.
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