Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest no.110: Internationally Iconic, Build to Forbidden Door Part 1 (AEW Spark)

We're finally looking at the road to Forbidden Door 2023, and we're starting here! This set focuses heavily on stuff involving Sting and his pose and has a touch of Swerve and the tag match Cole/Jericho blowoff for good measure. If you'd like to check out the related YT playlist, you can find it HERE.

Up first, a three-way with a title shot going to the victor. Big Bill finally got to showoff on Double or Nothing. Trent is used as a fall guy but is always a fun addition to shows. Strickland is one of the most underrated dudes on the roster. There was no reason for this not to be an exciting three-way. And may I say again for the 1000th time that Trent works so damn hard for a dude that is just a fall guy in-ring for this company!? Strickland won, which was the right choice, and everyone got to look good along the way.

Pillar Allin and non-Pillar Orange took on Gates of Agony next. Kudos to the Mogul duo as they don't get to show off much and did well with the time they were given here. The layout, with the big dudes beating down Darby for a stretch, really helped land that last section. Fire Ant really is a glorious asset to AEW. I absolutely love seeing the dude finally getting to show what he is capable of on a big stage. One of those matches where everyone got to look good and a great way to keep this one moving along. Cassidy and Allin are a fun team. Swerve and pals made their way down but were ran off thanks to Sting and his little friend.

Baker and Cole took on Saraya and Jericho in our next pull. This one honestly should have been on the PPV and the one they did run should've been on Rampage. Oh well. At one point I know talks were had about having a full division, strap and all, for mixed-tag content. I'm not sure what happened there. Anyway, I won't deny that this could've been a tad better but for what it was it was good fun and served decently enough to close this one out.

Note that Shida ran off The Outcasts in this one and Chris was pissed after, for those keeping track.

Orange defended against Killshot in our four spot. This one was an exciting bombfest and this reign has been so fucking fun. Strickland was a real threat here in the way he was booked and I'm certain he'll be holding gold in this company soon. I'm going to laugh if I find out he currently, in real time, is a champ and I missed Tweets (X's?) about it. Anyway, another desperate flash pin sealed this. Great stuff.

Oh, and can we stop nerfing Swerve's stomps? Even my 8-year old thought it looked bad.

Moving along, Sammy came out to chat with Renee. Darby would then appear and tell the other "Pillar" that he needs to turn heel. Then Jericho came and exchanged some words with his protegee. The last split from Chris didn't do anything and I don't know if this one they're teasing will do better. Then Sting came out to share a moment with Y2J. A bit cheap at first but the moment that ended it was perfect TV.

I'm pretty sure Dave has been using the same plug as Konnan. Just a random thought I felt was worth dropping here.

Building off of that last spot, next we had an atomico that saw Sting and Allin team with Keith Lee and Orange to take on Mogul's Gates, Cage, and Swerve. They tied in past stuff decently. Lots of fun stretches here and the chaotic closing minutes were fun. A decent throwaway, though Lee taking the L might have been the better move.

Can someone tell the AEW YouTube team, whom I really dislike sometimes, that it's not AR Foxx? Thanks. Suzuki returned to team with Chris and Sammy boy and the trio would defeat the face side with Jericho locking in a lion tamer on Martin to get the W. Good enough for what it was.

After, Renee spoke with the winning side. Kind of. Chris would plug his moment with Sting and then called out the Icon. They ended this a bit rough. Allin would tell Chris that they had a partner for Forbidden Door but that they wouldn't say anything about it until Collision to close it.

Speaking of, Chris and Minoru joined Tony to whine. Who'd Sting and Darby get? You likely know, but it was motherfucking Naito. I think they should've done something with him and Rush instead and maybe brought back my favorite, SHINGO, for this spot instead but what the hell do I know...

We end this one with Swerve versus Tanahashi. It just felt right. I'd be lying if I didn't admit Hiroshi is fucked. He's one of the best ever, but he's done so much damage to his body for our entertainment that it's like watching Muto happen again. Still, a match with the dude is a big deal and another clear sign that Tony is trying to keep Swerve happy right now even with an L.

It never would've happened, but imagine if they had went the other way here...

This one was fun. Trying to build to a crossover show is supposed to be fun, after all, so they did well enough here. I think a bit more effort was put into New Japan's other crossover shows lately, but this really was a decent watch. I embedded my favorite match of the set at the top but feel free to watch Spark or skip around if you missed anything. Keep your head up and your heart warm.

111, soon. Main Event Magic 4, this weekend.

Match Ratings

  1. Big Bill vs Swerve vs Trent ***1/4
  2. Gates of Agony vs Darby, Orange ***3/4
  3. Jericho, Saraya vs Cole, Baker ***1/4
  4. International Title: Orange(c) vs Swerve ***1/2
  5. Mogul Embassy vs Sting, Darby, Keith, Orange ***
  6. Suzuki, JAS vs Fox and Friends ***
  7. Swerve vs Tanahashi ***

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