Kyle Smedley is a journalism and telecommunications major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s (NJPW) co-promoted Pay-Per-View (PPV) Forbidden Door is scheduled for Sunday, June 26, 2022. This should be a landmark event for each promotion, especially AEW, given its brief three-year history.
However, many professional wrestling fans have taken to Twitter, Reddit or whatever forum they choose, and have stated this PPV is not living up to initial expectations. Many AEW stars like CM Punk and Bryan Danielson are injured and some feel that certain matchups are not worthy of such an important event.
This got me thinking, not about Forbidden Door, but about the state of professional wrestling today, on two completely different fronts. One being the toxic nature of the Internet Wrestling Community (IWC) and the slew of injuries professional wrestlers are enduring as of late.
In one of my classes during the spring semester at Ball State University in 2022, my final project was to compose a research paper studying a particular subculture of our choosing. I chose the IWC and toxicity as mentioned earlier was my focus.
As a social media user who often sits back and reads other people's posts and comments without engaging, I had seen the unhealthy nature most of the IWC was in, however, after doing research as a part of this project and even interviewing two members of the IWC, this problem became much more evident.
Since AEW was created in 2019, many professional wrestling fans seem to think they can only enjoy one major wrestling company, picking sides between AEW and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
WWE is a juggernaut in their industry and is the undisputed No. 1 wrestling promotion in the world. That is not up for debate, however, many fans take issue with every little thing the company does, choosing to become focused on the negatives rather than the positives.
Many WWE fans do the same thing with AEW. This poses the question, why can’t wrestling fans just enjoy wrestling?
In theory, wrestling hasn’t been in a better position than it is now since the late 90s “Attitude Era” and the Monday Night Wars between the then WWF and World Championship Wrestling (WCW). There is a multitude of promotions that have an incredible array of talented performers and there are multiple options as far as viewing wrestling.
Personally, I like good wrestling, regardless of promotion. Some weeks I feel WWE has the better programming and some weeks I feel AEW has them beat, but that doesn’t mean I dislike the other promotion.
To an extent, I think many wrestling fans can’t let each other enjoy what they want to enjoy and that may be a problem America as a whole faces, not just the IWC. Most recently, this has affected Forbidden Door.
This should be a show that fans are glad is even taking place, not one that is dissected and criticized at every turn. While stars like Punk and Danielson will not be competing at the event, stars like Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay White and Will Ospreay will represent NJPW, while AEW will be represented by the likes of Jon Moxley, ‘Hangman’ Adam Page, Adam Cole, Thunder Rosa and Toni Storm.
Add on to that, while Danielson’s absence means fans won’t get to see a dream match between himself and Zach Sabre Jr., a mystery opponent has been announced, that very well could be Claudio (Cesaro) or Johnny Gargano, among others. While this likely isn’t the very best card possible, it still should be a phenomenal night of wrestling.
As far as injuries go, this is an issue. Listing all the stars that are currently out with injury would be unattainable, however, the amount of big names currently out with injury is quite alarming.
Punk, Danielson, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Randy Orton, Big E, Kyle O’Reilly, Rhea Ripley and Bayley are all out with injury, to just name a few.
While this certainly is not a good thing for AEW or WWE, it’s an issue that can be overcome. As mentioned earlier, each company is so loaded with talent that neither company has any excuse to struggle in their absence.
WWE still has Roman Reigns (on a limited schedule), John Cena returns soon, Brock Lesnar recently returned, they have Bianca Belair, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Drew McIntyre, Ronda Rousey, Riddle, The Usos, Kevin Owens and many others all on full-time schedules. AEW has Moxley, Page, Cole, Rosa, The Young Bucks, FTR, Wardlow, Chris Jericho, Miro, the Lucha Bros. and many others.
While injuries and a toxic IWC are certainly negatively affecting current professional wrestling, at the end of the day, I still choose to find professional wrestling to be enjoyable. It’s still at the top of my preferred entertainment options, giving me the perfect mix of sports and entertainment I need.
I fully expect Forbidden Door to outperform its dampened expectations and for WWE to put on a great PPV in Money in the Bank July 2. While many seem to think otherwise, professional wrestling is in a great state currently, if one allows themself to see it that way.