NJPW Star Hiroshi Tanahashi Says He Almost Went to WWE


Hiroshi Tanahashi, one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest stars, says he almost went to WWE.

For about 15 years, Hiroshi Tanahashi has starred for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is a 7-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and seemingly main events Wrestle Kingdom, NJPW’s version of WrestleMania, ever year. Kazuchika Okada defeated him to retain the IWGP title at Wrestle Kingdom 10 on Jan. 4 earlier this year.

Recently, WWE has been signing talents from NJPW. AJ Styles already made his WWE debut and Shinsuke Nakamura is set to arrive in NXT at NXT TakeOver: Dallas on Apr. 1.

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Could Tanahashi have been in WWE long before these two, though?

In a translation on Wrestling Inc, the Japanese John Cena recently appeared on a Japanese podcast and said that J Sports wanted him to be signed by WWE as part of a broadcast deal.

Tanahashi obviously didn’t get signed to the company. Kenzo Suzuki instead received the contract, who lasted in WWE from 2004-2005 before being released. His run was one of the many Japanese stars who didn’t have the best run in wrestling’s biggest promotion.

Who knows what could have happened if Tanahashi signed with WWE instead of Suzuki. Would he would a great run with the company? How long would he have lasted?

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It’s probably better off that Tanahashi stayed in NJPW. He has become one of their greatest performers of all-time and likely wouldn’t have achieved that status state-side. He will be needed now more than ever with Nakamura no longer signed.