WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling Reportedly Discussing Potential Working Relationship

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVMay 28, 2021

TOKYO, JAPAN - APRIL 04: Kazuchika Okada enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling 'Sakura Genesis' at Ryogoku Kokugikan on April 04, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

WWE is reportedly in talks with New Japan Pro-Wrestling in hopes of striking up a working relationship between the two promotions.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), WWE is negotiating with an eye toward becoming NJPW's "official American partner," and a deal between them would include talent exchanges.

Meltzer noted that NJPW officials have been speaking with WWE President and Chief Revenue Officer Nick Khan, who has become a major player within WWE since he was hired away from Creative Artists Agency last year.

Although no deal has yet been struck between WWE and NJPW, talks reportedly began in March or April.

PWInsider (h/t Middleton) reported that the origins of the talks stem from WWE inquiring about Daniel Bryan potentially working some dates with New Japan. 

Bryan is currently a free agent, but he has expressed interest in WWE Superstars being able to work with other promotions on the side, and if WWE can make that happen, it may have the upper hand in terms of re-signing him.

Per Meltzer (h/t Jacob Camenker of Sporting News), WWE wants to be NJPW's "exclusive" American partner, meaning New Japan would have to put a stop to its partnerships with AEW and Impact Wrestling.

Meltzer added that WWE is deviating from its "former isolationist attitude of WWE vs. everyone" by even entertaining the idea of joining forces with New Japan.

WWE typically doesn't work with outside wrestling companies, especially ones with the size and scope of NJPW, but it isn't a completely foreign concept.

When WWE was battling WCW in the Monday Night War in the late 1990s and early 2000s, it worked closely with ECW. That included a brief invasion storyline which saw ECW wrestlers appear on Raw, and it also saw WWE send some of its wrestlers to ECW for seasoning and to create crossover appeal.

WWE and NJPW could potentially do something similar, although it would be an even bigger deal since it would take place on a global scale and serve as a direct shot across the bow from WWE to its chief American competition in AEW.

When NJPW star KENTA appeared on AEW Dynamite in February and attacked Jon Moxley, it was said that "the forbidden door" had been knocked down since two of the top wrestling promotions in the world were working together.

Also, a New Japan title was recently defended in AEW, as Moxley retained the IWGP United States Championship against Yuji Nagata on the May 12 episode of the Dynamite.

Other NJPW stars such as Juice Robinson, David Finlay and El Phantasmo have appeared on Impact Wrestling recently as well.

WWE striking an exclusive deal with NJPW would not only hurt the potential of AEW and Impact, but it would potentially help freshen up the WWE and New Japan products in a significant way.

There are many NJPW stars who have never or barely worked for WWE in the past, and having the likes of Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi, Tetsuya Naito, Jay White and others appear on WWE programming would be huge.

The same could be said for NJPW having Roman Reigns, Drew McIntyre, Randy Orton, Seth Rollins and others on its shows.

It doesn't appear as though anything is imminent between WWE and New Japan, although a partnership would undoubtedly send shockwaves through the wrestling world.

Listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot wrestling topics. Catch the latest episode in the player below (warning: some language NSFW).