The announcement of All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s June 26 joint PPV AEWxNJPW: Forbidden Door has unleashed a slew of speculation about dream matches that both wrestling fans and pro wrestling industry insiders would love to see on the match card. No hard and fast announcements have been made. However, one possible match pairing for Forbidden Door that has been gathering steam is that of CM Punk and KENTA.
CM Punk vs KENTA at Forbidden Door?
Social Media Provocation
In the wake of Forbidden Door’s announcement, KENTA has taken to social media to tease his desire to fight Punk, Tweeting:
NO WAY OUT pic.twitter.com/9lQlS8gTdd
— KENTA aka Lil’K (@KENTAG2S) April 22, 2022
GIVE ME #G2SvsGTS
— KENTA aka Lil’K (@KENTAG2S) April 21, 2022
The rivalry between Punk and KENTA stems from Punk’s use of the finisher ‘Go 2 Sleep’. During his WWE run, Punk’s finisher initially, was the chokehold maneuver, the Anaconda Vice, which was garnered from his adolescent martial arts background. Punk once extolled the virtues of the Anaconda Vice during his feud with Alberto Del Rio, saying, “The Anaconda Vice was my bread and butter when I came to WWE in 2006.”
He abandoned the hold for the slightly more complex maneuver ‘Go to Sleep’. This finisher was invented by KENTA. The fact that Punk adopted his finisher is not lost on KENTA, and he has called it out in the past.
KENTA’s pro wrestling career began in All Japan Pro Wrestling, but he quickly followed former company president Mitsuhara Misawa to the promotion Misawa founded: Pro Wrestling NOAH. As in AJPW, KENTA joined NOAH’s junior heavyweight division. He achieved the GHC Junior Heavyweight championship 3x, and the GHC Heavyweight Championship 1x, among other accolades.
In 2014, KENTA joined World Wrestling Entertainment, under the ring name Hideo Itami. He appeared in NXT initially and finally 205 Live before departing WWE in 2019. In 2019, he also debuted for NJPW at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall, where he announced his entry in 2019’s G1 Climax tournament. Despite being aligned with the CHAOS stable, in the closing hours of the tournament, he turned on Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI and joined BULLET CLUB.
KENTA in AEW
In early 2021, KENTA appeared on AEW Dynamite. KENTA attacked Jon Moxley, payback for Moxley’s previous attack on NJPW Strong. KENTA was then in contention for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship held by Moxley. CM Punk debuted for AEW in August 2021. The two have not crossed paths since Punk’s run at AEW has begun, but that may change at Forbidden Door.
CM Punk vs KENTA at Forbidden Door – In Conclusion
AEW rarely shies away from a dream match, especially one that has been years in the making. Punk and KENTA missed each other by years in WWE, and have not crossed paths in AEW as of yet, either. The announcement of Forbidden Door immediately called to mind the specter of their long-distance rivalry for many, and KENTA has responded with hints that the match may come to fruition. If the two do, indeed, meet in the ring in Chicago, fans will be eager to see who will make whom ‘Go to Sleep’.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.