wrestling / Columns

What Path Should AEW Take With Its Interim World Title?

June 7, 2022 | Posted by Kelly Sullivan
CM Punk AEW Rampage, Chris Jericho AEW Image Credit: AEW

As CM Punk limped down the ramp and towards the ring on AEW Rampage this Friday, it became clear that all was not right with the newly crowned AEW World Champion.

Just five days after capturing the biggest prize in AEW, Punk, with tears in his eyes, would grab the microphone and announce to the world that he had suffered an injury that would require surgery.

Instead of Punk vacating the title, Tony Khan decided to introduce an interim AEW World Title in Punk’s absence, and once Punk has had his surgery and is cleared to wrestle, the two titles will be unified.

So with the AEW Interim World Title and the main event at the upcoming Forbidden Door pay-per-view suddenly having more questions than answers, AEW released the following statement explaining how the next few weeks will play out:

And with that, a multilayered AEW World Title eliminator series for the promotion’s interim World Title is set.

It seems safe to assume that Hiroshi Tanahashi will be victorious in his match with Hirooki Goto at NJPW Dominion. Tanahashi was already slated for the main event at Forbidden Door opposite CM Punk, so it would be very surprising if that changed now.

So the questions become, who wins the battle royal and goes on to face Moxley on the main event of AEW Dynamite this Wednesday, and who is crowned the interim AEW World Champion at Forbidden Door – Tanahashi, Moxley, or the winner of the battle royal?

Who wins the battle royal on Dynamite this week?

The answer to this question really depends on how much doubt AEW booking wants to create in the main event of Dynamite when the battle royal winner wrestles Moxley.

Whoever the promotion sends to wrestle in the main event of the Forbidden Door pay-per-view needs to be one of the top stars in AEW. Sentimental favorites don’t work here. While performers like Miro, Darby Allin, Eddie Kingston, Wardlow, and many others are more than capable of having a great match against Tanahashi, they are not the names that should be promoted at the top of the card in this inaugural AEW-NJPW event.

With Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole reportedly out of action for a few weeks and “Hangman” Adam Page already committed to a match on Dynamite against David Finlay, the options for a top-tier star to face Moxley are very limited.

So limited that if AEW is trying to create a Dynamite main event that is buzzworthy, it really only has two viable options – MJF and Kenny Omega.

Kenny Omega is most likely a no-go as reports have surfaced that it is highly unlikely that Omega will be ready to compete at Forbidden Door, much less this Wednesday on Dynamite.

MJF would be an interesting choice but has a litany of question marks around his standing in the company right now.

After MJF delivered his own pipebomb address last week on Dynamite, he has become the most polarizing figure on the entire AEW roster, and possibly in all of professional wrestling. Not long after his promo, MJF was removed from the AEW roster page and had all of his merchandise pulled off of ShopAEW.com.

No one can say for sure just how deep the tensions between Tony Khan and MJF actually run, but MJF showing up and winning the battle royal and then going on to defeat both Moxley and Tanahashi would make for some truly great television moving forward. The man that isn’t even on the AEW roster page winning the AEW Title and holding it over the head of his promotion’s greedy owner would make for some fascinating segments.

Of course, there is always the possibility that AEW might just go the route of putting a good, but predictable match together for the main event of Dynamite.

Khan might be tempted to have someone like Wardlow or Miro come out and win the battle royal to open Dynamite, but that would be a disservice to both of these men. Putting either one of these monsters in the main event with Moxley, simply to suffer a loss to him, does not do one bit of good for either of them.

All things considered, if MJF or Omega are not in play for this spot, the best choice to win the battle royal is Darby Allin.

Allin is a safe bet as he constantly delivers excellent matches, and while hardly anyone would believe that Darby would beat Moxley and move onto the Forbidden Door pay-per-view, his antihero, never say die persona would still captivate the audience and deliver a crowd-pleasing match to close the show. And the loss to Mox won’t hurt Allin here as AEW has booked him to lose virtually every big singles match he has been in for the past year, so what’s one more?

Who should move on to face Hiroshi Tanahashi at Forbidden Door and who leaves Forbidden Door the AEW World Champion?

As predictable as it might be, Jon Moxley is the right choice here. AEW has tried to set up a Moxley vs. Tanahashi match in the past but was never able to make it happen. So making Moxley versus Tanahashi happen now seems like a no-brainer.

And while a Tanahashi AEW Title run would make sense from the perspective that it would guarantee that we would get to see him and CM Punk square off at some point in the future, we really don’t have a timetable as to how long Punk will be on the shelf.

It is very hard to imagine an NJPW product carrying the AEW title for up to three months with the plethora of talent currently signed to the AEW roster.

So our most likely path to Forbidden Door is Darby Allin wins the battle Royal on AEW Dynamite. Allin loses a hard-fought match to Jon Moxley in the Dynamite main event. Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Hirooki Goto, setting up the main event match at Forbidden Door for the interim AEW World Title between Moxley and Tanahashi in a match that will see Moxley win and become the first person to ever hold the AEW World Title for a second time.

article topics :

AEW, CM Punk, Kelly Sullivan