Professional wrestling is an astounding place where “never say never” should be the closing line for every business meeting. This time there are rumblings around WWE looking to partner with Japanese organizations. The same WWE that never acknowledged the presence of other promotions, but times have changed under the leadership of Nick Khan and Triple H. Could New Japan Pro Wrestling be a merging point that potentially brings AEW and WWE closer to collaboration?
Dave Meltzer spoke on the possibility in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Charlie Dempsey recently appeared in three matches in AJPW, even taking on Katsuhiko Nakajima for the Triple Crown Title. To some, those matches may not seem like a big deal, but it is a major move to see WWE be so willing to let a contracted performer show up in another organization.
“Paul Levesque and perhaps Nick Khan are looking at Japanese allies going forward with the step one with All Japan this week and are looking for a women’s group alley as well,” Meltzer said. “There has been talk internally of them trying to make another go with New Japan now that Hiroshi Tanahashi is president. With AEW having Forbidden Door which has been a major success for both sides the past two years, which would be a key factor to play for continuing the relations with AEW.”
That statement is interesting and unfortunate in many ways. Competition is a great aspect of business for both the fans and in this case, the performers signed to any organization. But there’s also a space for collaboration as well. Professional wrestling promoters are looking for the biggest gates, and revenue-driving events to have the best impact on the bottom line. WWE and AEW continue to break records with their showcases but imagine a world in which they found a way to work together. What would the revenue from that one-time showcase look like? The figures would blow current numbers out of the water. But that’s a far-off fairy tale in today’s landscape.
However, is it wrong to dream that perhaps NJPW could be the bridge that potentially brings AEW and WWE closer to working together? NJPW and AEW already have a glorious relationship. Whenever the two companies work together some of the best wrestling of the year happens. Just look at Bryan Danielson versus Kazuchika Okada from Wrestle Kingdom 18. Less than a week into 2024 and there’s already a strong candidate for 2024 Match of the Year on the docket.
Oddly, AEW and WWE have “worked” together. Think back to Ric Flair’s last match where he teamed with Andrade against Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett. That match featured wrestlers from both organizations, even though Jarrett was not in an on-screen role.
The idea of WWE working with NJPW immediately brings fear about AEW’s partnership with NJPW, which is understandable. No one wants to see the opportunity for those two companies completely go away. Yet, if there’s an opportunity to entertain the idea of all three promotions collaborating, that must be discussed because the positive ramifications would be monumental. And to think, it could be New Japan Pro Wrestling that brings the two biggest groups in the industry together.