It was reported today that WWE is in discussions with New Japan Pro Wrestling about working together. It was reported by the Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (available via subscription) that WWE President Nick Khan has talked to New Japan Pro Wrestling about WWE becoming the exclusive American partner of NJPW.
The discussions between WWE and NJPW go back to March and April with Meltzer noting there is no indication of where those discussions are at now. If there is a deal it would likely mean WWE sending talent, including some of their top stars, to work with NJPW wrestlers. It doesn’t say that NJPW wrestlers would be on WWE shows, but obviously, that would be a possibility.
NJPW has worked with Ring of Honor for several years. They have also worked with All Elite Wrestling and Impact Wrestling. NJPW wrestling legend faced Jon Moxley on AEW Dynamite a few weeks ago as well. Moxley is current the NJPW United States Champion, so obviously if WWE made a deal with NJPW then an AEW wrestler wouldn’t be holding that title for much longer. There are also some AEW wrestlers that have deals that allow them to wrestle in NJPW other than Moxley, so perhaps WWE’s involvement would stop that from happening.
Here’s what Meltzer wrote about in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that was also shared on the free Wrestling Observer site.
In what could end up being among the biggest wrestling stories of the year, or a non-story, depending on the end result, Nick Khan has been in talks with New Japan Pro Wrestling about WWE being the exclusive American partner with the promotion. Right now New Japan has been working with AEW (KENTA, Yuji Nagata, Rocky Romero and Ren Narita plus Jon Moxley working New Japan Strong) and Impact (Juice Robinson, David Finlay, El Phantasmo and Satoshi Kojima) and has had a relationship with CMLL and ROH, but things have slowed down with those companies since COVID.
Obviously there are a million questions regarding such a deal if it was to happen, and there are no indications where talks are at past they date back to late March or early April. But it would include WWE sending talent and WWE top stars being allowed to work in New Japan if talks go anywhere. With Khan, the former isolationist attitude of WWE vs. everyone is changing with the idea WWE is part of the wrestling landscape and not separate from the pro wrestling landscape. Obviously it’s also to keep New Japan, which pre-pandemic was the third strongest company in the world, away from working with other companies which could strengthen the opposition and also be a factor with WWE gunning for the same talent as other companies because there is a percentage of younger talent that grew up on watching New Japan either via tape or YouTube where working there is a much bigger part of their career goals than the prior generation, and AEW talent has been willing to allow its talent to work outside its walls and Impact would allow talent to work with other promotions.
Clearly, former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre is aware of the rumors because the first letter of every word in this tweet spells out Okada in reference to NJPW legend Kazuchika Okada.
At my hands pic.twitter.com/FFTtX09Sxn
— Drew McIntyre (@DMcIntyreWWE) May 28, 2021
TJR Thoughts: Meltzer is right in saying that it would be one of the biggest wrestling stories of the year. I think it would be awesome for WWE wrestlers to work NJPW and I’m sure a guy like Daniel Bryan would be more willing to re-sign with WWE if he got to work with some of NJPW’s top guys too.
I think it would be awesome to see some top Japanese wrestlers like Okada, Tanahashi, Naito, Ibushi, Ospreay (if he’s healthy) and others working with WWE guys too. Maybe Vince McMahon wouldn’t love to see Okada vs. Roman Reigns, but I think it would be incredible. You could also have the NJPW guys work with the NXT brand because a lot of NXT guys work the NJPW style.
For NJPW, the positive is that they would work with the biggest wrestling company in the world and it would give NJPW more exposure in the North American market, which would lead to more NJPW shows in the US.
There are endless dream matches that could happen. It’s fun to think about. Good job by Nick Khan and WWE people willing to have discussions about this.