This weekend, all eyes will be on the wrestling world as AEW and NJPW join forces to present Forbidden Door. One of the big matches on that card was going to be Bryan Danielson and Zach Sabre Jr. On AEW Dynamite this week, it was revealed that Danielson was injured and is not cleared to wrestle at Forbidden Door or Blood and Guts next Wednesday. He came to the ring to update the AEW fans on his status and what it meant for the upcoming shows. The entire time he was in the ring, it seemed we were going to find out who his replacement would be. Unfortunately, he left us with “Didn’t you guys know I came out the bad guy tunnel? I’m not gonna tell you”.
Of course, there will be people who will be disappointed that they have to wait until Sunday to find out who Danielson picked as “the one person he can trust to take his place”, but honestly, how many more pay-per-view buys did he just create? AEW has become synonymous with bringing big-name surprises to their company and this weekend has the potential to be another shocker. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a good couple of days of fantasy booking? Let’s break down some names that could make an impact at Forbidden Door.
Who Could Replace Bryan Danielson?
As soon as Danielson finished his promo, it seemed like the entire internet had two names jump directly into their minds. Arguably the most likely name that has been floating around would be Claudio Castagnoli AKA Cesaro. Castagnoli was released by WWE in February after contract negotiations fell through. WWE did offer him a new contract, but he rejected the offer and chose to be released instead. At the time, he was on a contract extension which meant that there was no non-compete clause keeping him from going anywhere. The strange thing is that we still haven’t heard anything from him and he hasn’t shown up anywhere since then. On the list of technically sound wrestlers, Castagnoli has to be somewhere near the top and would absolutely tear the house down against ZSJ.
The second name that many gravitated to seemed to be Johnny Gargano, and how could you blame anyone for coming to that conclusion? Gargano made his name on the independent circuit before being picked up by NXT. From 2015 to 2021, he became one of the most notable guys on the NXT roster and solidified himself as a fan favorite whether he was face or heel. The man could do no wrong. He was not let go by WWE however. His contract expired and he chose not to sign because his first son had just been born and he wanted to take some time away from the ring to spend time with him. It has been months since any news about Gargano had surfaced, but guess who just happens to have a signing in Chicago the same day as Forbidden Door?
“I promise you, this is ridiculously coincidental and has been booked for months.” Gargano said in a tweet. “I’ll only be in Chicago for 8 hours! I also realize in saying this that only like 5% of you are going to believe I’m actually telling the truth.”
It seems awfully convenient though, doesn’t it?
Now let’s have some fun and say what if the internet is wrong? What if Gargano still wants more time with his son? What if Castagnoli is enjoying his time away from wrestling and isn’t ready for a comeback yet? Could Danielson have dug a little deeper into the bag of tricks and enlisted the support of Castagnoli’s old Kings of Wrestling tag team partner? Not only does this fill the need for an accomplished replacement, but it also does something that AEW loves to do, which is shine a light on guys who have had great independent careers and deserve more recognition. It also gives Claudio a hell of a reason to show up at AEW somewhere down the line!
Tony Khan has shown over the last few years that he knows how to put on a memorable show that will keep the wrestling world talking whether it be on a Wednesday night, a Friday night or a weekend pay-per-view. He has taken a brand new company that had to go against the biggest name in the industry to survive, and created a brand that cannot be denied. So what happens when he buys Ring of Honor? This show will already have the ROH tag belts on the line. Why not shed some more light on his new acquisition by booking the ROH World Champion to replace Danielson? If Danielson wants to bring in a technical wizard, he wouldn’t have to look very far to find Gresham. He has taken that title on tour defending it throughout the ROH hiatus leading up to Khan purchasing the company. This seems like a great time to build Gresham’s stock, build the ROH brand and create some amazing moments at these next two shows.
Timothy Thatcher is another guy who has had more success on the independent circuit than he did when he got to TV. Most casual fans will remember him as the guy who hung out with Tommaso Ciampa on NXT for a while. People who know his time prior to NXT will recognize him as a skilled technical wrestler who would surely fit the bill for what Danielson is looking to accomplish. If he hits you, you know you have been hit. His passion for brutality could possibly be a good fit for the Blackpool Combat Club.
Another person who could bring more light to the newly acquired ROH would be Josh Woods. He may not have the wrestling resume of Gresham, but “The Technical Beast” would also be a welcome addition to Blackpool Combat Club. He has been a member of the ROH roster since 2016. He won the ROH top prospect tournament in 2017, but most would agree that his biggest success in wrestling to date is when he defeated Jonathan Gresham to become the ROH Pure Champion. ROH returned to the spotlight with Supercard of Honor XV in April of 2022 and Woods dropped the title to current Blackpool Combat Club member, Wheeler Yuta, in a match that I am sure the rest of BCC was watching. Did they see something they liked in Woods?
Alright sure, this one probably won’t happen. But can you imagine the pop if this happened? He may not be the most “technical” wrestler, but he does have a history with Danielson and we haven’t seen much from him lately other than a string of cryptic tweets at the end of May that seemed to signify he was coming back soon. This may be the least likely option, but would anyone be mad at this? Keep in mind that after ZSJ, this replacement is heading to Blood and Guts. Wouldn’t he be a welcome addition to the madness of that match?
We will have to wait and see what happens on Sunday, but one thing is for sure. Whoever comes out in Danielson’s place is sure to bring the fans to their feet! This show is sure to be a memorable one that we will all be talking about for a long time, so make sure you don’t miss it.
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. You can rewatch all 2021 NJPW events and plenty more tremendous wrestling content from New Japan Pro-Wrestling on NJPWWorld.com; The King of Sports Streaming. Make sure to catch Forbidden Door on Sunday, June 26th, and stay tuned to LWOPW for Forbidden Door coverage.