Hiroshi Tanahashi Invented The Phrase “Forbidden Door”

Hamish Woodward

With the 2023 edition of Forbidden Door looking like one of the best cards ever, we look back at the man who coined the phrase “Forbidden Door”.

The first Forbidden Door show took place in June 2022, and was the first ever jointly-promoted show by AEW and NJPW.

It featured some huge dream matches on the card, some of which both sets of fans never thought they’d see.

Despite injuries to top stars like CM Punk, Kenny Omega and Bryan Danielson, they put on a fantastic card which was one of the shows of the year.

The 2023 show looks to be even better, and we have Hiroshi Tanahashi to thank for the Forbidden Door.

Hiroshi Tanahashi Invented The Forbidden Door

Hiroshi Tanahashi was the first person to use the phrase Forbidden Door when referring to the stars of AEW and NJPW crossing paths.

In the run-up to his match against Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 14, Tanahashi spoke to Tokyo Sports about potentially wrestling in AEW, if he defeated Jericho.

With Jericho (at the time) holding the AEW Championship, Tanahashi pondered the idea of getting the chance to challenge for the title in AEW, should he beat Jericho at the Tokyo Dome.

“You’re the champion over there, aren’t you? If I win and they say ‘one more time’, I can say ‘Then put on your belt.’ Then the forbidden door will open,”

This was where he invented the term “Forbidden Door”. The idea was that the jump from NJPW to AEW was “Forbidden”, due to New Japan’s issue with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks leaving the promotion to form AEW.

Former NJPW President Harol Meij banned any NJPW talent from wrestling for Tony Khan’s promotion, a “forbidden door” that wasn’t lifted until his firing in 2020.

Tanahashi Has Wrestled At Every Forbidden Door Event

Since he invented the phrase Forbidden Door, it seems only fair that Hiroshi Tanahashi should have big matches on both shows.

He was originally booked to face CM Punk at the first event, with Punk’s AEW Championship on the line. The title was the reason why he wanted to cross the threshold in 2020, so it was fitting he challenged the top star in the company at Forbidden Door 2022.

Sadly, an injury to CM Punk put a stop to the match. Instead, Tanahashi wrestled Jon Moxley for the Interim AEW Championship, with the winner facing CM Punk later in a unification match down the line.

Moxley won that match in a fun main event, giving many American fans their first taste of a big Tanahashi match. It also put him in good stood for the next year, and the chance to wrestle another big match in 2023.

On AEW Dynamite, Hiroshi Tanahashi officially challenge MJF to an AEW Championship match at Forbidden Door 2023.

He spoke about narrowly losing to Jon Moxley last year for the AEW Championship, and claimed that as long as MJF remained AEW Champion, “the belt won’t shine like it should”.

Despite MJF rejecting the match, it has been made official by Tony Khan, handing The Ace of the Universe his second AEW Championship match in as many years.

It was reported by Dave Meltzer that the reason Tanahashi was chosen as MJF’s opponent was because he is no longer viewed as a top star in NJPW, and can afford to take a loss to foreign talents in AEW.

“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.”

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