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WWE Rumors on Jay White, Tama Tonga and Royal Rumble; Lana Talks WWE Return, Contract

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 2023

TOKYO, JAPAN - AUGUST 18: Jay White enters the ring during the New Japan Pro-Wrestling - G1 Climax 32 Final at Nippon Budokan on August 18, 2022 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.

Jay White Reportedly Under NJPW Deal Beyond Royal Rumble

New Japan Pro-Wrestling star Jay White reportedly may not be an option for WWE in terms of being a surprise entrant in the 2023 men's Royal Rumble match.

According to Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Dylan Murray), White is under contract with New Japan beyond Jan. 28, which is the date of the Royal Rumble premium live event in San Antonio.

There had been speculation among fans about White being a surprise Rumble entrant due, in part, to the fact that he has an upcoming Loser Leaves Japan match scheduled against Hikuleo.

While nothing can be ruled out with Triple H in charge of creative, including a loose working agreement with NJPW, Fightful noted that it is unlikely White will appear at the Royal Rumble.

White is a 30-year-old native of New Zealand, and since joining New Japan in 2015, he has established himself as one of the most successful gaijins (foreign wrestlers) in the history of Japan.

During his NJPW tenure, White has held the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Intercontinental Championship, IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship and NEVER Openweight Championship one time each.

His 206-day reign as IWGP world heavyweight champion came to an end last week at Wrestle Kingdom 17 when he lost to Kazuchika Okada.

White is widely regarded as one of the top all-around wrestlers in the world, so while it seems likely that WWE would have interest in him, a Rumble appearance may be wishful thinking.

WWE Reportedly Interested in NJPW's Tama Tonga

Although a White appearance in the Royal Rumble may not be in the cards for WWE, the company is reportedly targeting another New Japan star.

According to Fightful Select (h/t WrestlingInc's Kellie Haulotte), WWE is interested in Tama Tonga, and that has been the case for quite some time.

Fightful noted that WWE made Tonga a contract offer seven years ago, but he turned it down in order to team up with his Guerrillas of Destiny tag team partner and real-life brother Tanga Loa in New Japan.

Tonga's future plans are unclear, but Fightful is reporting that his NJPW contract is set to expire "in a matter of weeks."

Fightful previously reported that WWE also has interest in Hikuleo, who is part of Guerrillas of Destiny with Tonga and Loa, and is the real-life adopted brother of both of them.

That suggests WWE may be interested in bringing the whole trio over at some point. It could also happen sooner rather than later, with Tonga's contract reportedly expiring soon and Hikuleo facing White in a Loser Leaves Japan match in the near future.

It is unclear if Tonga's contract will expire before the Royal Rumble on Jan. 28, but even if it does, Tonga's status as the reigning NEVER openweight champion complicates things.

Tonga beat WWE Superstar Karl Anderson for the title at Wrestle Kingdom, and it is fair to wonder if that may have been by design, as it could have helped WWE set the stage for a rivalry between the Guerrillas of Destiny and The O.C. in the future.

Lana Says She Would Return to WWE If Offered

Former WWE Superstar Lana said last week that she would shut down her lucrative website in order to return to WWE if given the opportunity.

Appearing on the Bailey Show (h/t WrestlingInc's Colby Applegate), explained why she would make that decision:

"If WWE were to call me tomorrow and be like, 'We want you back,' it's not about the money. I would shut the site down and go back because WWE is one of the greatest franchises in the world. Life is not just about money, you have to do what you love. There is nothing in the world like wrestling, and if the opportunity was right for me to return and tell compelling stories and burn the house down, I'll come back and do it for free."

Lana signed with WWE in 2013 and became the manager for Rusev shortly thereafter. She would go on to marry Rusev in real life, and they spent much of their time together in WWE as a pairing.

She eventually branched off on her own and began wrestling more regularly, but she was one of many performers released by WWE in June 2021.

Since her WWE departure, Lana has made a living by posting content on her CJPerry.com website, and she divulged last week that she has made far more money through the site than she ever did in WWE:

"My last couple of years in WWE, I had an incredible and very lucrative contract that I had worked very hard and long for, which was an incredible blessing that I'm thankful for. Even on CJPerry.com, in the last six months, I've grossed more than I did in my highest-paying WWE contract. I'm thankful for that."

Lana's revelation is timely since Mandy Rose was released from her WWE contract last month due to WWE's reported issue with some of the content she posted on her FanTime page.

Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp reported that WWE felt some of the explicit photos and videos posted by Rose were "outside of the parameters" of her contract.

Although Rose lost her job with WWE, she is still doing well financially, as FanTime congratulated her last week on Instagram for making $1 million in a single month on the platform.

Rusev is signed with AEW under the name Miro, but he has not appeared on television for several months. If Lana receives an offer to return and shuts down her website, it would likely lead to plenty of speculation on a Rusev return to WWE as well.

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