In an unsurprising turn of events, NJPW’s highest-ranking official isn’t very pleased with Karl Anderson’s sudden return to WWE.
When Anderson returned to WWE programming on October 10th, there wasn’t much concern on NJPW’s part at first. Even though he still carried and defended the NEVER Openweight Championship, NJPW officials weren’t worried because it was expected that Anderson would honor one last NJPW booking to drop that title.
But that’s no longer the case because Karl Anderson is now double-booked on November 5th. The first booking came from New Japan, which was/is a NEVER title match between Karl Anderson and Hikuleo. However, WWE later booked Anderson to wrestle in a six-man tag match alongside AJ Styles and Luke Gallows against The Judgment Day at Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia.
So unless Karl Anderson can pull a Hulk Hogan and somehow wrestle in two separate time zones in one day, he will not be able to honor his originally agreed-upon NJPW booking.
In a recent interview with Tokyo Sports, NJPW President Takami Ohbari said that he was “angry” over the whole situation while Karl Anderson responded that no one in NJPW spoke to him about the matter after the double-booking was confirmed:
“New Japan didn’t talk to me, so it’s double-booked. I won’t go to Japan until our timing is right… On November 5th, we will not go to Osaka.”
New Japan takes title defenses very seriously and missing a scheduled defense – regardless of the reason – is usually punished with the champion being relinquished of said title. The two most well-known cases of a title stripping of this sort were when Jon Moxley was stripped of the IWGP United States title in 2019 because he couldn’t make it to Japan due to Typhoon Hagibis, and in 1995 when Masahiro Chono missed a scheduled IWGP Tag title defense to deal with his father passing away.
h/t 411mania for the transcription.