The Forbidden Door in ’94: Dream Matches We Wish Had Happened

With all the recent talk surrounding dream matches and the exciting possibilities of witnessing wrestlers from different companies facing off, we wondered: What would have happened if the most prominent American and Japanese wrestling companies had a supershow in the past? If the forbidden door had been opened in ’94, these would have been some dream matches!

The Forbidden Door in '94: Randy Savage (WCW) vs. Stan Hansen (AJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Randy Savage (WCW) vs. Stan Hansen (AJPW)

1. Randy Savage (WCW) vs. Stan Hansen (AJPW)

Two of the most unpredictably wild and wooly wrestlers of a generation could have been a tremendous brawl.

Both are among the best heels in the history of the business.

Savage, hiding and cowering to anger his opponent, and a raging Hansen trying to catch and pummel him would have been quite the spectacle.

And high-flyer Randy Savage trying to wrestle the sheer force and violence of Stan Hansen would be a fascinating contrast in styles.

The promos leading up to the match would have been an adrenaline-fueled stream of consciousness, leaving fans anticipating the insanity these two would cause.

Hansen-Savage. We can only dream.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Mr. Perfect (WWF) vs. Wild Pegasus (NJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Mr. Perfect (WWF) vs. Wild Pegasus (NJPW)

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2. Mr. Perfect (WWF) vs. Wild Pegasus (NJPW)

Mr. Perfect versus Wild Pegasus (AKA Chris Benoit) was a mat classic that was waiting to happen.

In their primes, they were great technicians who could put on a wrestling master class, but their styles were very different.

“Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig used old-school wrestling, which makes sense to tell a story focusing more on limb work and headlocks to wear down his opponent.

In contrast, Wild Pegasus had quick grappling and striking that he developed during his career in the Junior Heavyweight division in NJPW.

The exchanges between these two would have been magical.

This clash of technical styles could have told a unique story of the heavyweight grappler from America coming for his first match after a few months out of the ring (in real life, Hennig had nagging back injuries and hadn’t had a match from November 1993 until the middle of 1997) while taking on the striking junior heavyweight who was making strides in Japan to decide who is the better wrestler.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Davey Boy Smith (WWF) vs. Steve Williams (AJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Davey Boy Smith (WWF) vs. Steve Williams (AJPW)

3. Davey Boy Smith (WWF) vs. Steve Williams (AJPW)

The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith vs. Dr. Death Steve Williams could have been a unique match.

On paper, it looks like it would be a brutal battle between two of the biggest and strongest men in their respective companies.

They’d have been dropping each other high on their backs with some of the most savage suplexes ever seen in a wrestling ring, along with some heavy lariats that would take the heads off of lesser men.

But this would not be the whole story.

Davey Boy had excellent wrestling skills from working with the Hart family; matched up with Williams’ Japanese King’s Road style, and they’d have told a most exciting tale.

They were on opposites sides during a tag team match in AJPW in 1990, which only hinted at what epic one-on-one battles there could have been.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Antonio Inoki (NJPW) vs Terry Funk (WCW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Antonio Inoki (NJPW) vs Terry Funk (WCW)

4. Antonio Inoki (NJPW) vs. Terry Funk (WCW)

Although Terry Funk and his brother Dory Funk Jr. teamed to face Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba in a JWA/NWA World Champion Series tag team match on April 8th, 1970, Funk refused to wrestle Inoki. Not out of anything Inoki had done, but out of respect for Giant Baba.

Baba later owned All Japan Pro Wrestling, where Funk had wrestled for years, so the thought of wrestling AJPW rival NJPW’s owner Antonio Inoki was never a thought that crossed his mind. Funk wouldn’t even wrestle for New Japan until January 4th, 2010, at the yearly Tokyo Dome show.

However, in the spirit of dream matches in 1994, this one has all the right ingredients.

Inoki helped develop the Strong Style seen in New Japan today. In contrast, Terry Funk helped develop Hardcore with his deathmatch work, which allowed the growth of companies like ECW.

Still, seeing these guys wrestle and strike heavily would resemble an MMA fight. But it could have also played into Funk’s playground of fighting on the outside and brawling with chairs.

We would have witnessed a beautiful mix of an old-school NWA bloody bout- more focused on storytelling- and the Strong Style seen in NJPW of pure wrestling and hard strikes.

This would have been a clash of legends between two of the most influential wrestlers of all time.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Sting (WCW) vs Kenta Kobashi (AJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Sting (WCW) vs Kenta Kobashi (AJPW)

5. Sting (WCW) vs. Kenta Kobashi (AJPW)

Kenta Kobashi versus Sting would have been epic.

It would have been a comic book clash of two higher powers.

Sting had previously wrestled in New Japan, and Kobashi did not go to America until 2005.

Sting was the face-painted superhero over in WCW, and Kobashi was the embodiment of the King’s Road Fighting Spirit style.

Although it would be a great wrestling match, it would also be an absolute spectacle to see these two legends step into the ring.

There would be many monumental moments.

Imagine them trying to get an advantage by outmuscling one another with powerful slams and tests of strengths.

And exchanges of savage chops would inevitably turn their skin into raw meat.

This battle between two larger-than-life characters would be a pure wrestling smash.

The Forbidden Door in ’94: Black Tiger II (NJPW) VS Owen Hart (WWF)

6. Black Tiger II (NJPW) vs. Owen Hart (WWF)

Before the World Wrestling Federation, Owen Hart worked in NJPW, wrestling such greats as Liger and Pegasus. He mastered his craft from the Hart Dungeon to England, Japan, and everywhere in between.

Black Tiger II (Eddie Guerrero) had significant stylistic influences from working in AAA and NJPW and around the globe. He flawlessly mixed the high-flying Lucha Libre style with the Strong Style of hard-hitting strikes.

Imagine watching Owen use his great aerial ability and technical work to work on a limb against the grappling and submission skills of Black Tiger II.

The masked man would try to land strikes to beat down the technical wizard. Watching both men hitting dives on one another with such grace and intensity would be similar to the modern NJPW’s junior heavyweight style.

It would have been an honor to see these legends go at it.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Shawn Michaels (WWF) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (NJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Shawn Michaels (WWF) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (NJPW)

7. Shawn Michaels (WWF) vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (NJPW)

Shawn Michaels vs. Jushin Thunder Liger would have been a show-stealer conducted by two men known for stealing the show.

Although both men wrestled in different weight divisions, as Liger was a junior heavyweight, they put on a great match with anyone.

They could take it to the mat or take it to the air at a very high level, and watching two of the greatest of all time telling the story of trying to get one over on their opponent would be epic to see.

Also, Liger’s strong wrestling style to counter some of the dives from Michaels would be dramatic, and the amount of counter-wrestling would be way ahead of its time.

It also tells a straightforward story of the masked hero taking on the cocky villain, and seeing how Shawn sells for some of the moves from Liger would indeed be something.

It’s an excellent dynamic for an instant classic.

The Forbidden Door in '94: Bret Hart (WWF) vs Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW)
The Forbidden Door in ’94: Bret Hart (WWF) vs Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW)

8. Bret Hart (WWF) vs Toshiaki Kawada (AJPW)

This could have, arguably, been one of the greatest wrestling matches of all time.

Bret Hart developed his technical style through a storytelling approach. Working on a body part was his specialty.

In contrast, Toshiaki Kawada brought a more vicious side to the King’s Road style with deadly striking and a level of violence that was not seen from the other pillars in AJPW.

So this would have offered a true clash of styles. And one thing both men did better than most was to sell an injury.

Mixing the best of both worlds, the first half of the match would see the two men trying to get a wrestling advantage by working down a body part.

It would eventually dissolve into a faster pace with Kawada throwing his heavy shots and brutal backdrops with Bret trying to get in submissions and knocking down Kawada with lariats.

A match of this caliber would have blended two of the most influential wrestling styles created by two men who did them to the highest level.

In short, it would have been one for the ages.

Had all these dream matches occurred in 1994, we’d speak of it as an all-time great year. One can only dream of what could have been!

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Archie Pain is a long-time wrestling fan and journalist based out of England. He enjoys going to the gym, and his favorite wrestling includes AEW, NJPW, '90s AJPW, and 2000s ROH and WWF/E. He can be reached on Instagram @wrestlecontent.