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    Monday, July 19, 2021

    #CafePuro: The Forbidden Door Swings Even Wider!

     

    Last weekend, IMPACT! Wrestling's Slammiversary concluded with its biggest talent exchange yet. Kenny Omega had just defeated "The Death Machine" Sami Callihan in a brutal No Disqualification match to retain the Impact World Championship. Just as Kenny, The Good Brothers, and Don Callis were going to start their celebration, the familiar Bullet Club theme started to play, followed by the theme of "Switchblade" Jay White.

    That's right. The NEVER Openweight Champion appeared at Slammiversary to show the world that the renewed NJPW/IMPACT! relationship continues to grow. We have already seen the likes of KENTA, Yuji Nagata, and Ren Narita appear on AEW, while IMPACT! has featured FinJuice (David Finlay & Juice Robinson), Satoshi Kojima, and now, Jay White.

    One Long Break

    I personally was not expecting Jay to even appear at Slammiversary. Ever since Jay White returned to the U.S. due to the rescheduled Wrestle Grand Slam shows, his appearances went down to a few meet and greets

    Right before Jay returned to the U.S., it was confirmed that he and David Finlay were infected with COVID-19 and had to stay at the New Japan Dojo to recover. The way NJPW handled that situation is another issue that needs a story on its own.

    Besides the occasional meet and greet and online appearance, Jay wasn't really doing anything. That's what made his appearance so surprising. The Slammiversary teasers showcased a long list of talents that had been with the company before, including Chelsea Green, Mickie James, and Samoa Joe, to name a few.

    Large Expectations

    Samoa Joe eventually re-signed with WWE while Chelsea Green, Mickie James, and even the man formerly known as No Way Jose made appearances at Slammiversary. Fans, including myself, were expecting the likes of Kazuchika Okada to appear or maybe even Andrade (who signed with AEW). 

    Expectations were higher, to say the least. Last year's Slammiversary teasers were slightly disappointing, with no new names appearing besides Deonna Purrazzo and Karl Anderson. The rest of the wrestlers who debuted were already familiar names, such as The Motor City Machine Guns and Eric Young.

    Slammiversary 2021 had a different vibe in general. Maybe it's the return of fans in the audience that gave people a sense of wanting to be surprised. And the show did not disappoint.

    An Unexpected Appearance

    Nobodyand I mean nobody—was expecting Jay White, of all people, to appear on IMPACT!. AEW fans might say that Jay should be on AEW, but wouldn't he just be another villain on Tony Khan's overloaded roster? Kenny Omega's attention is already on "Hangman" Adam Page and The Dark Order anyway. The Cleaner can have two separate storylines running at the same time. Meanwhile, IMPACT! doesn't have a top guy prepared to face Kenny at this time. 

    Moose is currently in rebuild mode, while Sami Callihan had just been defeated. Josh Alexander and Jake Something are on their way to becoming solid main eventers for IMPACT!, but they are not yet exactly on that main event level that the likes of Omega and White have been for the last few years.

    I'm glad that Jay White is on IMPACT! The flexibility of the Forbidden Door gives the companies more opportunities to surprise us. Let's face it, you, dear readers, were probably expecting Jay White to appear on AEW as well. The Switchblade's appearance simply makes me excited to see what could happen next. Do you know what the best part was? Jay White didn't say a single word, and he already felt like a big deal.

    While Kenny will be busy with Jay, IMPACT! can finally elevate stars like Ace Austin, Chris Bey, and Josh Alexander to the main event level we expect them to be at.

    Other Entries into The Forbidden Door

    Alright. There were only three mystery appearances before Jay White made his presence felt. Those three appearances were the following:
    1. Mat Cardona's Mystery Partner vs. Brian Myers & Tenille Dashwood
    2. Fallah Bahh's Mystery Tag Partner (TJP had to back out of the event for unknown reasons)
    3. Deonna Purrazzo vs. her Mystery Opponent for the Knockouts Championship

    Let's take a quick look at each reveal.

    1. Chelsea Green

    Chelsea Green returning to IMPACT! was a nice touch since she's Matt Cardona's real-life fianceé as they teamed against Brian Myers (Cardona's real-life best friend) and Tenille Dashwood (Cardona's ex-girlfriend).

    This was a case of real-life mixing with a storyline, and it was a nice little boost for Cardona, who had been away from IMPACT! for a while. 

    The return of The Hot Mess was a nice recall to the last days of IMPACT! Wrestling as TNA. She was one of the good ones that left as the rebuild was happening, and I totally understand why.

    2. No Way

    Meh. I wish he chose a better name. I'm sure he's a good wrestler, but just using the words "No Way" doesn't feel fun. He could have used his Twitter handle, Levi Valenz, so it becomes "No Way" Levi Valenz, and that would have been better than just "No Way."

    His match was fun and chaotic though, so there's not much to worry about.


    3. Thunder Rosa

    Wow. This was the surprise I was least expecting (outside of Jay White, of course).

    Thunder Rosa appeared as part of the renewed NWA/IMPACT! partnership. The Forbidden Door has been kicked even wider with this working relationship. For those unfamiliar, you can listen to Thunder Rosa's guesting on The Wrestling-Wrestling Podcast to learn her interesting story.

    Some fans speculated that The IIconics would appear, but sadly that did not happen. I still believe they'll end up on AEW since Cassie Lee is the husband of Shawn Spears, and wherever Cassie Lee goes, Jessica McKay will be there too.

    Maybe you'd have expected Ruby Riott, formerly Heidi Lovelace, and now Ruby Soho? Well, as Sandy Cheeks would say...


    What makes Thunder Rosa so good is that she's able to bring the best out of her opponents regardless of what kind of wrestling style they're used to. Rosa can hang with the best and even outwrestle them. If there are three matches, you must see from Slammiversary 2021, the Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa bout is one of them. 

    4. Mickie James

    How's this for a surprise? After defeating Thunder Rosa, Deonna Purrazzo was about to speak when Mickie James came back from the train tracks she was run over on! We will never forget the ridiculous storyline that got Mickie James written off IMPACT! and back to WWE. 

    Anyway, Mickie James extended an invite to Deonna Purrazzo to participate in the NWA Empowerrr All-Women's program that they're creating, and The Virtuosa gave one of the most savage lines of the night when she mentioned the WWE trash bags that female wrestlers were given with their merch inside.
    Mickie James kicked Deonna after the trash bag line to conclude her cameo on the show.

    The Door is Far from Closed

    Jay White passing through the Forbidden Door is a sign that bigger things are coming from the partnership. I can't wait to see who goes through next. Will it be Kazuchika Okada? Hiroshi Tanahashi? Maybe Pro-Wrestling NOAH will join the fray and send one of their stars on a tour of IMPACT! or a different company that's now part of this alliance.

    What do you think of Jay White's surprise appearance at Slammiversary? Share your thoughts below!

    Header image from IMPACT! Wrestling

    *****

    Steven Tan (@steviesaidyup) works for an e-commerce company by day and operates The Geeky Juans podcast and blog by night. He's a fan of the Anaheim Ducks hockey team, comic books, and the Moomin franchise. You can find more of his geeky thoughts on Twitter.
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    Item Reviewed: #CafePuro: The Forbidden Door Swings Even Wider! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Steven Maxwell Tan
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