Updated: Jul 29
This past week’s AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door event was a runaway frontrunner for PPV of the Year. We saw several dreams matches come to fruition, including a highly anticipated rematch between Kenny Omega & Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada facing Bryan Danielson for the first time ever. Since its inception, a glaring hole in Forbidden Door has been the lack of creativity in the women’s match on the card. Much of that has been because of NJPW’s sister promotion Stardom regularly running a big show on the same weekend as Forbidden Door, leaving them unable to send over talent to create some dream matches, as well as injuries to popular stars like Mercedes Moné & Jamie Hayter.
The problem isn’t that the women’s matches booked for Forbidden Door haven’t been good. They’ve actually been pretty great. Last year, we saw Thunder Rosa defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Toni Storm. This year, Toni Storm defended the AEW Women’s World Championship against the NJPW Strong Women’s Champion Willow Nightingale. The problem is that both of these matches are matches we could easily see on a random Dynamite or Rampage. Forbidden Door is about being the land where anything can happen.
Although we don’t yet know anything about next year’s show, I believe there are some great women wrestlers available for AEW X NJPW to reach out to if Stardom talent is once again unable to compete. Here are 5 of my favorites:
1. Chihiro Hashimoto
Currently, Big Hash is contracted to Sendai Girls in Japan but has been known to occasionally take outside bookings. Her strong powerhouse style against an equally powerful opponent like Willow Nightingale or a hard hitter like Jamie Hayter could easily steal the show if given the opportunity.
Sareee recently returned to Japan after a stint in NXT. Since her return, she’s been a freelancer and made her intentions clear to prove herself once again as one of the best Joshi talents in the world after a lackluster run in WWE. Sareee is electric in the ring and her most recent matches are proof that she’s a star who could offer a lot in a match with big-time opponents like the former World of Stardom Champion and current AEW Women’s World Champion Toni Storm.
3. Unagi Sayaka
Sayaka is a former member of Stardom’s Cosmic Angels faction. She left Stardom to be a freelancer and has lit up the wrestling world in Japan and the U.S. with her charisma and commitment to improving during her “gyan” freelance journey. She’s already been taking a lot of dates in North America so Forbidden Door wouldn’t be a far stretch.
4. Maya Yukihi
Maya Yukimi is one of the best women’s wrestlers in the world. Although she is a freelancer, she’s been a part of making history in 2023 by participating in the historically male Pro Wrestling NOAH’s first Joshi wrestling matches. She also knows how to get violent and sadistic in her matches which would fare well in a match against the very dominant ROH Women’s World Champion, Athena.
5. Aja Kong
This is a no-brainer. Aja Kong is one of the biggest names from arguably the greatest era of women’s wrestling ever, All Japan Women’s Pro Wrestling in the 1990s. Aja Kong is a legend and has recently traveled to the U.S. over WrestleMania weekend to take select bookings. Despite being 52 years old, Aja Kong still knows how to put on a great match.
She’s appeared for AEW before, but a Forbidden Door match could be advertised as a marquee matchup with the right opponent. Megastar Mercedes Moné has long expressed her desire to face Kong, one of her idols growing up. The other most rational opponent would be Athena, a bruiser who carries on Kong’s legacy in the ring with devastating strikes and a thirst for violence. Either of these potential multigenerational matchups could mark an official passing of the torch that we rarely get to see in women’s wrestling.
Next year’s Forbidden Door is already highly anticipated and it’s important that some women’s dream matches can come to life as well. Fingers crossed that Stardom could participate next time but even if they can’t, there are plenty of amazing women’s wrestlers' worth extending an invitation to. Let’s hope that AEW and NJPW make some women’s wrestling magic happen in years to come!