A lot of pro wrestling fans have been wondering if the current beef between New Japan Pro Wrestling and WWE wrestler Karl Anderson is a work or a shoot.
Anderson was supposed to defend the NEVER Openweight championship against Hikuleo on the Nov. 5 Battle Autumn show in Japan, but then he returned to WWE and was booked for their Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia on the same date. Karl made it clear that he wasn’t doing the NJPW show, so they gave him an ultimatum to either show up and defend the gold, or vacate the title and return it to them.
Anderson has now responded to their ultimatum by saying he won’t vacate the championship:
I’m not vacating anything.— Karl “The Machine Gun” Anderson (@MachineGunKA) October 26, 2022
I’m the greatest #NeverOpenweightChampion of all time.
I’ll defend it on my time ….. get with my booking agent @The_BigLG
I’ll see ya then @Hiku_Leo
That’s #TooSweet https://t.co/EyN24ib9TD
I thought Karl’s initial video response was pretty clearly in character, and the above tweet also reads to me like there’s an angle brewing here. The idea that NJPW needs him to physically return the belt doesn’t really make sense unless it’s all part of kayfabe. There’s also no need for Karl to be so publicly adamant about his hold on the belt unless it’s all a work.
Anderson has made it clear that he’s not playing ball with NJPW’s ultimatum, so it seems to me that WWE is allowing him (and maybe even working with NJPW on an angle) to return to NJPW to settle this dispute at a future date.
But maybe I’m missing something here. What do you make of Karl’s latest response to NJPW, Cagesiders?