It is no secret that the first big collaboration between AEW and NJPW hasn’t gone exactly as planned.

With both promotions hit with injuries to some of their biggest stars, the Forbidden Door pay-per-view this Sunday has been in a state of flux from almost the moment it was announced by AEW’s Tony Khan and NJPW’s Takami Ohbari.

CM Punk, the newly-crowned AEW World Champion, suffered a leg injury.

Bryan Danielson suffered an undisclosed injury and will miss the show and the AEW Blood and Guts Dynamite special this week.

Bobby Fish, Kyle O’Reilly, Lee Johnson, Matt Hardy, Buddy Matthews, The Bunny, Scorpio Sky, Leyla Hirsch, Darius Martin, Anthony Bowens are also on AEW’s disabled list at present.

NJPW just announced today that Tomohiro Ishii has sustained a left knee injury and is not medically cleared to compete this Sunday either. The fantastic workhorse Clark Connors will take Ishii’s place in the All-Atlantic Championship Four-Way match.

Tony Khan, the president and CEO of the All Elite Wrestling, is taking all of Forbidden Door’s twists and turns in stride though.

“There’s been a lot of the injuries that have led to some changes and I think we’re fortunate that there are great stars in AEW and in New Japan Pro-Wrestling to accommodate a lot of that. There’s a lot to look forward to on Sunday’s pay-per-view,” he said revealing that the original plans were for CM Punk to take on Hiroshi Tanahashi at the show and Bryan Danielson was set to square off against Zach Sabre Jr.

What also affected Khan’s co-booking with NJPW (Rocky Romero acting as a go-between) was the availability of the NJPW talent to appear live on AEW television in the United States which was crucial to selling the event to fans in North America.

“I had to work with the wrestlers, NJPW and their great top stars that were going to be coming in and primarily the people that I wanted to build TV stories around and get in and on TV. The people that were available to me early on were Tanahashi and Ospreay, who are huge stars and in very prominent matches on this card with Tanahashi versus Moxley for the Interim AEW World Championship and Will Ospreay versus Orange Cassidy, which has been playing around in my mind for awhile now,” he said.

As far as Danielson not appearing on Forbidden Door, Khan admits it was him who made that decision.

“Danielson was really not feeling well after the Anarchy in the Arena match and if there are any doubts whatsoever I just didn’t want to take a chance and if he’s not feeling 100 per cent, 100 per cent of the time there’s not any sense in taking any chances. I shot him down and I think it was the right thing to do,” he said.

Making that decision also set the stage for the mystery opponent angle. Fans are curious who will face Sabre Jr. on Sunday night. The names Cesaro and Johnny Gargano have been thrown around. Khan wasn’t giving any clues as to who it will be though.

“It was one of those also perfect situations because rarely do the stars align where you have a mystery opponent and a chance to build up a moment like this…I think there’s gonna be a lot of great moments I expect on the show but one thing I know is that it will be a great moment introducing Sabre Jr.’s mystery opponent. I’m really excited about it but I wish it happened under different circumstances,” Khan admitted.

Khan said that growing up as a wrestling fan, WCW’s partnership and joint shows with New Japan Pro-Wrestling were his introduction to the amazing stars and wrestling scene in Japan. He hopes that Forbidden Door will do the same thing for North American fans this weekend.

“I think this is going to be a very compelling partnership between AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling. When I was a kid, I was very excited about the collaboration between WCW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and it was the way I was introduced to pro-wrestling in Japan and a lot of the wrestlers there…They competed on TBS and later on TNT also. That’s how I became introduced to a lot of the top stars and now hopefully a new generation of fans will get introduced to some great wrestlers the same way,” said Khan.

TOP PHOTO: Tony Khan in April 2022. Photo by George Tahinos,