Alongside AEW owner and CEO Tony Khan, New Japan Pro Wrestling President and CEO Takami Ohbari sat down with Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated to talk about AEW/New Japan Forbidden Door, a special Supershow taking place on June 26 from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Ohbari explained New Japan’s reasoning for their end of the Supershow, sighting their 50th anniversary and wanting to go the extra mile for fans while feeling AEW was the right partner to accomplish this.
“The theme of our 50th anniversary year has been not just to celebrate alongside our fans, but to give something back to everyone who has supported us over the decades,” Ohbari said. “Especially as we bounce back from the effects of the global pandemic, I feel we really have to go the extra mile. It’s on us to make those dream matches and situations come true, to bring the power of professional wrestling to the people, and emerge into a bright new era.
“At this point in time, with AEW and their tremendous talent getting increasing notice around the world, including among Japanese fans, they make the ideal partner for us to do just that and to unite fans worldwide.”
Ohbari also noted how quickly AEW has grown since its formation three years ago when a relationship between them and New Japan seemed very unlikely. He noted how impressed he was at what AEW has accomplished in such a short amount of time, from both a business and creative standpoint.
“AEW has undergone tremendous growth in a very short timeframe,” Ohbari pointed out. “From a fan’s perspective that has a lot to do with meeting the ‘unmet needs’ of the consumer. Creative matchmaking and exciting wrestling have been able to satisfy fans who had been left disillusioned by the American wrestling landscape. From a business standpoint, for a new entrant into the field to be able to leverage a fresh identity and sculpt such an effective media strategy, it is very impressive.”
When asked about the possibility of World Wonder Ring Stardom, an all-women promotion owned by New Japan’s company, Bushiroad, being involved in Forbidden Door, Ohbari indicated the show would strictly be an AEW/New Japan venture. He also said, however, that nothing was off the table.
“This is an AEW-NJPW event,” said Ohbari. “But the key phrase here is ‘never say never.’ Really nothing is off the table, and who knows what the future may hold for AEW and Stardom.”
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