By Colin McGuire, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@McGMondays)
Impact Wrestling/New Japan Pro Wrestling Multiverse United 2
Streamed live August 20, 2023 on FITE.TV
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Night two of two for this NJPW weekend welcomed in some Impact friends for Forbidden Door Lite. It’s not every day you can see Hiroshi Tanahashi challenge for the Impact World Champion in the flesh, mind you. So why delay this any longer? Let’s get to it.
1. Joe Hendry, Heath, and Yuya Uemura defeated Master Wato, Rocky Romero, Ryusuke Taguchi in 10:21. A spotlight match for Uemura, which I have no problem with. Impact seems to be high on him, which again, I have no problem with – and the Philly crowd didn’t seem to mind, either. I was pumped for the Joe Hendry theme song/bit, but whoever the sound guy was tonight decided to turn things down by about 11. I still got a kick out of it, though.
2. Kenny King defeated Yoshinobu Kanemaru in 6:58. A tale of two nights: the entire crowd on Saturday yelled “Just Five Guys!” for Kanemaru’s entrance; Sunday, not so much. This was fine if not a little underwhelming. Getting the Kanemaru liquor-spitting spot was worth the drive alone, though (note – in person, that stuff really, really does not look like liquor). In all, this was just kind of there.
3. Chris Sabin defeated Frankie Kazarian, BUSHI, Kevin Knight, El Desperado, MAO, Rich Swann, YOH in 8:10. Action, action, and more action. ‘‘Twas a disappointment that Kevin Knight didn’t sell the injuries from last night, but I guess the multi-verse doesn’t recognize those types of things. These kinds of matches are harder to watch live than they are on television because of the moving parts, outside spots, etc. I expected the crowd to be up for this one, but relatively speaking – remember, relatively speaking – everyone seemed a tiny bit subdued. It was fun while it lasted, though.
4. Moose and Eddie Edwards defeated Zack Sabre Jr. and Shane Haste in 13:24. My God, Moose is one hundred million times larger in person than you could ever imagine. And I’m sure you can imagine him being a very big person. This was a very good tag team match and Zack Sabre Jr. continues to be one of the most entertaining wrestlers to see live anywhere in the world. Nearly halfway through the night, this was a contender for match of the night. But wait. Look what’s next.
5. Giulia defeated Deonna Purrazzo, Giselle Shaw, and Momo Kohgo to retain the NJPW Strong Women’s Championship in 12:22. It’s not often that you set your expectations high for a wrestling match but the match comes through and meets them, but this did it for me. Even the Shaw botched dive was forgiven because she owned it and told everyone to shut up, which they did. Giulia was as good as advertised and a damn superstar in Philadelphia on this night. Thumbs up to everyone involved and here’s hoping Giulia can come over to the States more often.
6. Sami Callihan defeated DOUKI in 12:54. OK, so the crowd did the the “Just Five Guys!” chant better here. Fair play. Callihan cut a promo before the match saying he wanted to make it a South Philly Street Fight. DOUKI obliged. It only took the 16th match of the weekend to get a hardcore match at the ECW Arena, but so it goes. DOUKI took a beating, as he is wont to do, but man, the piledriver through chairs is a tough spot to watch. As for the paper cut spot? Nah, man. I had to look away.
7. Francesco Akira and TJP defeated Robbie Eagles and Kosei Fujita in 11:30. Eagles and Akira had a hell of a weekend in Philadelphia, but this match was just kind of there. I ran into at least two people who left the arena space who said they refused to watch TJP wrestle, which kind of made me chuckle. This was the battle of the super juniors tag teams and that’s about it. Not much else to it. Nothing offensive. Nothing memorable.
8. David Finlay, KENTA, Clark Connors, Alex Coughlin, Chris Bey, and Ace Austin defeated The DKC, El Phantasmo, Tanga Loa, Tama Tonga, PCO, and Josh Alexander in 14:13. You haven’t lived unless you’ve seen PCO land a moon daily from the top rope to the outside. This was a mess, as predicted, but it didn’t overstay its welcome with the live crowd, which was a mild surprise. I know people don’t think the Bullet Club matters anymore, but they sure do have a loud contingency of fans in Philadelphia. In a lot of ways, watching the current lineup is like watching an episode of 2020 NJPW Strong, so I at least got a kick out of this.
9. Lio Rush and Trey Miguel defeated “Speedball” Mike Bailey and Hiromu Takahashi in 14:32. Rush pinned Takahashi and it sure it surprise me, even if it involved a low blow. After the match, Rush cut a promo while the fans chanted “shut the f—- up.” It wouldn’t have been as awkward … if I wasn’t sitting with Rush’s kids. The match itself was very, very good and exceeded my high expectations. Miguel is a sight to see live and Rush is a heat magnet when he wants to be. This was between very good and great and probably closer to the latter.
10. Alex Shelley defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the Impact World Championship in 18:56. A flat finish and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t herd people try to start “This is boring” chants. I don’t know what people wanted, though. This is what’s left of Tanahashi. I suspected there might be a screwy finish, so Shelley going over clean was probably the most surprising aspect of it, but it was what it was. It was endearing to see Chris Sabin watch the match from just behind the curtain – in fact, it was probably the most memorable part of the match. Basic storytelling, like Saturday’s main event. It just didn’t have much energy.
All told, this was a fantastic weekend of wrestling. I’ll hold off on more until my McGuire’s Mondays blog. Until then, be well, friends.