CHICAGO — The “paper” championship of the IWGP U.S. Championship was in contention Sunday night during AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door.
Earlier in the night, the current IWGP U.S. Champion Juice Robinson spoke with AEW commentator Tony Schiavone. Robinson said that the match between NJPW’s Will Ospreay Jr. and AEW star Orange Cassidy is nothing more than a number one contender’s match.
Cassidy wrestled early with his hands inside his pockets. He was able to avoid most of the contact with Ospreay Jr. Ospreay caught Cassidy with a hot shot to take the advantage. He would them splash Cassidy against the ring barricade with some help from Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis).
Ospreay hit a spinning-side backbreaker for a near fall, then the match started to slow. He locked on an abdominal stretch before sticking his hand inside one of Cassidy’s pockets. He pulled out the middle finger.
Cassidy caught Ospreay with a crossbody, but Ospreay would still maintain an advantage. Ospreay hit a diving elbow to the back of Cassidy’s head for yet another near fall.
Ospreay hit a bunch of Kawada kicks on Cassidy, but Cassidy fired up and hit Ospreay with a dropkick. Cassidy hit his own low-impact version of the Kawada kicks. However, Ospreay was not impressed. Cassidy caught Ospreay with a superkick and then really unleashed the Kawada kicks.
Cassidy avoided an Oscutter, then countered a suplex with the Stundog Millionaire. He then hit the Michinoku Driver for a two-count. Cassidy hit another spinning DDT.
Cassidy took out Aussie Open, then hit a diving DDT off the top for a near fall. Ospreay caught Cassidy with a Spanish Fly.
Ospreay hit the Cheeky Dando kick in the corner. Cassidy and Ospreay fought up to the corner, where Cassidy sent Ospreay into the camera mounted on the post. Cassidy then started “selling” an injury (a la Eddie Guerrero) in an attempt to lure Ospreay into taking a chance. It worked. Cassidy caught Ospreay with the Beach Break for a very close near fall.
Ospreay came back with a cutter and the Oscutter for a near fall. He went for the Hidden Blade, but Cassidy avoided it. Ospreay went for the Storm Breaker. However, Cassidy countered with a hurricanrana into a cradle for another near fall. Ospreay hit the Hidden Blade but it only got two and the crowd went nuts. Ospreay was shocked, but went right into the Stormbreaker and got the finish. This match got GREAT at the end.
After the match, Aussie Open beat up Cassidy. Rocky Romero and Trent Baretta tried to make the save but got laid out. Then, Katsuyori Shibata’s music played and the crowd went nuts. He took out Aussie Open on the floor, then hit Ospreay with a pump kick in the ring. Shibata hit the corner dropkick on Ospreay and went for a rear naked choke, but Aussie Open pulled Ospreay out of the ring.
Shibata and Cassidy had a stand-off in the ring, and Cassidy gave Shibata the sunglasses and a thumbs up.
Winner: Ospreay Jr. via pinfall (16:44)
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.