A current NJPW star has explained how close they came to joining WWE and how he was put off by an insulting remark made by a company executive.
Former IWGP Tag Team Champion Jeff Cobb was a wanted man in early 2020 with AEW and WWE seemingly looking to lure him away from NJPW. Cobb wrestled Jon Moxley in AEW in early 2020 but ultimately decided to stay put in Japan.
Speaking to Steve Fall of WrestlingNews, Cobb revealed that he did have decisions to make at the time and that he was close to joining WWE:
“It just so happened, right before the pandemic in 2020, I started getting phone calls. William Regal would call me. Brian Kendrick would call me. ‘Hey, is it cool if we pass your number to [WWE Senior Director of Talent Development] Canyon Ceman?’ I’m always open to talk to people, and entertain talks.”
“This was around the time New Japan and I were figuring out a contract situation. At the same time, AEW offered me a contract as well. This is the first time where I ever felt like, ‘Oh my Gosh.’ I was the new girl in high school and all the guys want to be with me. It was really cool. I got really close, maybe in the summer of 2021, I was FaceTiming Canyon Ceman a couple of times, maybe June or July, and it got pretty close.”
“I got to hear what they offer and at the end of the day, I chose what I was doing as opposed to going after the money and people were giving me a lot of grief for that. At the end of the day, I can make a great living being in Japan and doing a couple of appearances here and there. It may not be like WWE The Rock money, but I’m a low-maintenance kind of guy. I don’t need millions and millions of dollars, although people are like, ‘You’re stupid for not taking it.'”
Jeff Cobb then reflected on how he feels he made the right call given that WWE let Canyon Ceman go as well as dozens of stars from their roster as the pandemic gripped the world. Cobb also recalled being unimpressed with a remark Ceman made during their conversations:
“The good thing about it is, a few months after a bunch of conversations with Canyon is when he got fired and a huge dumping of the roster happened. Looking back, I think I made a good choice because if I went there, six months later, I could have been released and crawling back to another company for a job. New Japan definitely took care of me during the pandemic when they didn’t have to. We still got paid. If they’re loyal to me, I’m going to be loyal to them.”
“Canyon Ceman said to me one time through text, ‘Hey, listen, if you come work with us, you’re going to make a lot of money and, unlike other companies, we pay our talents.’ That is such not a cool thing to say.”
One star who is out of New Japan Pro Wrestling and looking to the future is Kota Ibushi who says he’s open to having talks with AEW.