AEW World Championship MJF will defend his title against Hiroshi Tanahashi at AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door 2 later this month in Chicago, it was announced on Wednesday’s episode of AEW Dynamite.
Given MJF’s position as the top talent in AEW, some fans have criticized the match booking. In addition, last year’s Forbidden Door saw Jon Moxley defeating Tanahashi for the interim AEW World Heavyweight Title.
Dave Meltzer mentioned on Wrestling Observer Radio that he believes Tanahashi is no longer seen as a top guy who is properly protected and not booked to lose against wrestlers from other firms, as he was in previous years. Meltzer argued that Tanahashi was picked as MJF’s opponent because he had a name that can be defeated.
“I think two years ago, that would’ve been great. But the last Forbidden Door title match was [Jon] 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,” Meltzer stated.