Last Friday, the wrestling world woke up to the exciting (or terrifying, depending on your point of view) possibility that WWE and New Japan could become business partners.
The story came from Dave Meltzer in Wrestling Observer Newsletter. In it, Meltzer wrote “[WWE President] Nick Khan has been in talks with New Japan Pro Wrestling about WWE being the exclusive American partner with the promotion.” While there were repeated caveats about talks being ongoing, and the outcome being far from final, the WON report indicated any deal they arrived at would “include WWE sending talent and WWE top stars being allowed to work in New Japan”.
In the hours that followed, PWInsider’s Mike Johnson weighed in, saying his sources told him the talks were only about the possibility of Daniel Bryan working dates for NJPW - and suggested whatever negotiations had taken place were unsuccessful. Then, AEW President and current New Japan partner Tony Khan cut a worked-shoot promo on Nick Khan about the report.
The main points/clarifications are:
- Nick Khan did not initiate the talks with New Japan, but he’s been “the point man”. Some of Meltzer’s sources “believe he has recommended to Vince McMahon to pursue” a deal with Bushiroad-owned NJPW.
- Daniel Bryan was a part of the early conversations, but lately his name hasn’t been a focus. One source claims he hasn’t been mentioned at all in recent talks.
- After writing last week that WWE’s “top stars” would work in Japan, Meltzer now says “the deal talked about would have been more likely to be NXT focused”.
Beyond that, the item in the newest Observer is largely an accounting of McMahon’s history of partnering with Japanese companies throughout his career.
Though Meltzer again says there have been conversations about an exclusive partnership, WWE’s idea initially “had nothing to do with screwing AEW”. It also wouldn’t have involved WWE buying New Japan, or Kazuchika Okada being brought in to be squashed by Randy Orton, “or all the crazy speculation from the past week.”
Mostly, the new Observer makes it clear a deal probably won’t happen at all. Meltzer reminds us he’s reported on WWE talks to buy international promotions like NOAH, Stardom, Big Japan, Dragon Gate and AAA in the past, and none of those talks lead to a deal. He also speculates on what the AEW President’s promo meant: “Logic would indicate Tony Khan would not have cut that video thinking this deal is going to happen any time soon, so it’s more likely than not this deal isn’t happening.”
Pro wrestling, everybody.