Bully Ray Applauds AEW's Choice: MJF Vs. Tanahashi Opens 2023's Forbidden Door



by ATIA MUKHTAR

Bully Ray Applauds AEW's Choice: MJF Vs. Tanahashi Opens 2023's Forbidden Door

In the wrestling spectacle of AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, AEW World Champion MJF was set to open against Japanese wrestling heavyweight Hiroshi Tanahashi. Notably, this was under unique circumstances, considering Bryan Danielson versus Kazuchika Okada was the show's main event.

In light of this, seasoned wrestler Bully Ray felt that the decision to begin the program with the MJF-Tanahashi match was entirely rational. Speaking on "Busted Open," Bully acknowledged that the scenario was unconventional, "I don't think they had a choice.

I think they started the right way." Ordinarily, he would align with the critique that having a world championship opening the show could diminish its prestige. But in this particular instance, he believed that more factors were at play.

He reasoned that the potential audience response at the end of an almost four-hour show had to be considered, thus it boiled down to expectation versus reality - a battle that reality won this time around. "What would have happened if Tanahashi and MJF would've went on last?" Bully questioned, to which his co-host Mark Henry quipped, "Everybody would've went home." Similarly, show host Dave LaGreca felt it could have been a letdown, and Bully concurred.

He referenced Tanahashi's current performance abilities and why it would've been unwise for AEW to create heightened expectations.

"Ace" Tanahashi's Career Mileage

Tanahashi, now 46, is a decorated veteran with an illustrious career in New Japan Pro-Wrestling since 1999.

Despite being an eight-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, it was clear fans were not going to witness him at his peak at this event. As Bully insightfully added, "The years of being 'The Ace' has caught up with him a bit." By featuring Tanahashi in the opening, AEW could leverage the considerable goodwill he has garnered over his career.

This also alleviated any pressure of an underwhelming reception or the burden of unachievable expectations. However, Bully was quick to commend MJF's performance too, highlighting the effective use of 'bells and whistles' He praised, "It's a credible win for Max, he can say he beat Tanahashi." In conclusion, Bully deemed the decision to have Tanahashi and MJF open the AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door a judicious one. "Smart move to put that match on first," he affirmed.

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