NJPW star KENTA made a surprise appearance on AEW Dynamite last night (Feb. 3) and nailed Jon Moxley with a GTS as the show went off the air. In the aftermath, the wrestling world has been buzzing about this means for the future relationship between AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
On Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer explained that there is now a working relationship between the two promotions:
“The deal is done, and the sides have a working relationship. The pandemic probably sped it up, but it also holds it back at the same time. The only way to get Moxley was to make a deal.
...When AEW first started, I think New Japan had no clue of how successful they would be...they wanted Tony Khan to come and see them and he didn’t. And even though they sent Chris Harrington, and even though the Young Bucks were office and they were ready to make the deal, New Japan thought that they were just fly-by-nighters and it’s not gonna mean anything. You know, they just kind of big leageud ‘em. And they were wrong, and they went their separate ways.
And then they needed Jon Moxley because he had the US title...the only way to get him, because he couldn’t go to Japan, was to do it here. But the only way to get him to do it here, it had to be approved by Tony Khan, so it opened the door. And Harold [Meij] was gone...I wrote when Harold was gone that that opens the door, and it did open the door.”
“If it wasn’t for the pandemic, I think it probably wouldn’t have happened. Because Moxley would have been able to go to Japan in between AEW dates and defend the championship there. That deal was already in place. But with the pandemic, because it had to be in the United States, that changed everything, and the flip side is by doing that, the sides are working together. AEW is pretty much working with everybody.”
When Meltzer was asked if there is more to this working relationship besides the one angle between Moxley and KENTA, he indicated that there will eventually be more to come, but the coronavirus pandemic has to end before things can really progress:
“The answer is pretty much yes. I know people who can’t wait to go back to Japan.”
“The pandemic sped it up, but the pandemic also slows it down. Okada and Tanahashi and any of these guys can come here, but they can’t. When the pandemic is over then they can come, and yeah at that point, relations are open. Anything is open. But it’s probably not gonna be that soon because they would have to quarantine to go back.”
“Everything is open, and nothing is open. Because nothing can happen yet, unless someone’s gonna come full time, and that’s only gonna be young lions. But if the pandemic ends, is there an opening to do Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi at the Tokyo Dome? If everything is back to normal? Yes, there is an absolute opening...the wrestlers would want to do it. Could they do it in Madison Square Garden? Yes, they could. But is it gonna happen next month? No, it can’t.”
KENTA lives in Orlando, Florida, so that’s why he’s the focal point of the working relationship between AEW and NJPW right now. All of those other dream matches that you might have in mind, though, will most likely have to remain on hold until things return to normal.
Are you excited to see that the Forbidden Door between AEW and NJPW has finally been opened?