With NXT UK launched (more or less), Triple H and WWE may be looking to the other side of another ocean for their next global territory.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), and the stars WWE’s signed and promoted from their ranks like Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles and Finn Bálor, have proven that the Japanese product has appeal all around the world. With New Japan making inroads into the United States, both on their own and via partnerships with Ring of Honor (ROH) and possibly Impact Wrestling, it’s not surprising WWE’s looking to step up their presence in Japan and establish a dedicated pipeline for talent from the country.
The newest Wrestling Observer Newsletter (subscription required but recommended) reports WWE has found a promotion with whom they could possibly begin to gain a foothold in the country. And it’s one to which a few NXT stars already have ties... in fact, one of those talents will be heading home in August to kick start what’s described as a temporary deal between WWE and Pro Wrestling Noah.
205 Live’s Hideo Itami, who as KENTA was the face of Noah as their Heavyweight Champion before signing with WWE, is set to return to Noah for their Aug. 29 show to herald the new arrangement.
Where it goes from there is unclear, but it The Observer mentions that a WWE Network has been discussed for 2019 which would feature talent not under contract from partner promotions like WWN/Evolve in the U.S., and Progress and ICW in the United Kingdom. If the Noah partnership goes well, they would seem to fit in that mix, as well.
Could the deal with Itami and The Mighty’s old fed be the foot in the door for NXT Japan? If so, how would NJPW and their global partners respond?
That’s a ways away, obviously, but it’s intriguing to think about.