Many a wrestler in both AEW and NJPW has taken credit for being the Forbidden Door.
While Hiroshi Tanahashi came up with the phrase, Jon Moxley has called himself the Forbidden Door, as has Tony Khan in his weirdly charming Impact Wrestling commercials, and Jay White, ever one for modesty, took credit for pretty much everything that has happened in professional wrestling over the past five years in his media availability sessions after NJPW Dominion and Forbidden Door the show.
And yet, if you ask non-Kayfabe Tony Khan, as one reporter did during the media scrum after the Pay-Per-View, who deserves credit for the show, he points out the usual suspects but with one notable addition that may surprise more than a few fans: Rocky Romero.
‘Wait, Rocky Romero Rocky Romero, the little guy with the eyepatch from who replaced Chuck Taylor in Best Friends? He's responsible for putting together one of the best shows of the year?'
Yes, you read that correctly, the occasionally masked half of Roppongi Vice not only wrestled on the show in a losing effort to FTR in the three-way tag team championship match, but he also served as the intermediary between Khan and NJPW booker Gedo while also contributing his own ideas to the show along the way.
Rockey Romero is the real Forbidden Door between AEW and NJPW.
Wrestling media scrums are weird because there's no hard and fast rule as to how much, if any, Kayfabe the promotor, performer, or practitioner opts to keep up for the cameras. Some, like Jay White, maintain a Sacha Baron Cohen level of character commitment without so much as a kind word to the promotor while others, like FTR, quite literally dropped their ring names and maybe let it slip that Jim Cornette's schtick is an act too.
Tony Khan, to his credit, doesn't like to give media members a hard time. While he won't answer a question here or there – most notably about MJF – he'll generally humor the questions asked his way and oftentimes talks on for far more than one would expect. That happened after Forbidden Door, where, without even being asked, Khan gushed on about how important Rocky Romero was to assembling the Pay-Per-View, in the following quote transcribed by Bodyslam and trimmed for the sake of conciseness.
“I’ve, many times now, now that it’s done, I’ve equated it to like a submarine movie where there’s two missile keys. I think being on sight, I think I’ve been like the captain but I think I’ve added people working beside me that have had the same key and they can, you know, veto power over stuff. So, we put a lot of things in place here and quarterbacked it from here in America, but Gedo had really valuable input, it’s very gratifying to meet him in person because through the pandemic we built this partnership through our mutual friend, Rocky Romero… He’s been the person who’s done hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and messages in between myself and Gedo and with his own ideas and he’s as responsible of this as anybody and there’s no way we would be doing this right now if it wasn’t for Rocky Romero and I just think the world of him so, thank you, Rock.”
Whoa, high praise indeed.
Now granted, this isn't the first time Romero has been praised for serving as a go-between for the two promotions. He reportedly played a part in Kenta's debut alongside Kenny Omega and has since been involved one way or another with other AEW arrivals, like his two factions, CHAOS and Best Friends coming together, and even Chuck Taylor returning to NJPW for a Strong match taped at the 2300 Arena alongside himself, Tomohiro Ishii, Mascara Dorada, and Ren Narita.
Call him a good friend, call him an enterprising businessman who knows he won't be wrestling forever, whatever you want to call it; Rocky Romero is the Forbidden Door and fans the world over – literally – are the beneficiaries of his enterprising ways.
What's next for Rocky Romero now that Forbidden Door is done? Will he return to NJPW or at least NJPW Strong to continue to test Young Lions like Clark Connors, The DKC, and Alex Coughlin, or will he find himself a more regular part of AEW's weekly schedule, whether that means making Roppongi Vice into a trio or finding another creative use for the 5-foot-8 cruiserweight? Maybe he'll whip out the mask once more and retake up the Black Tiger mask moniker he wrestled under from 2004 to 2009 and still brings out to the ring from time to time? Either way, with Forbidden Door II almost certainly over the horizon, it probably won't be long until Tony Khan is blowing up his phone with new ideas to pass along to Gedo.