In the first week of 2024, WWE expanded its influence on wrestling around the world by sending NXT's Charlie Dempsey to All Japan Pro Wrestling to challenge Katsuhiko Nakajima for the AJPW Triple Crown title. This move embarked on new waters for WWE, by beginning to create an active relationship with a Japanese wrestling promotion.
WWE's motivations for trying to sustain an alliance with the Japanese wrestling world are quite clear. The promotion has not predominately been getting young stars to develop from the 'land of the rising sun', but now with a rapport created with AJPW, they will try to recruit talent to America. Sending an international talent from NXT may seem like a genuine effort to help put over All Japan Pro Wrestling's Triple Crown champion, but it's the exact opposite.
Charlie Dempsey is not in a prominent position on WWE's developmental brand, making it pretty appealing for WWE to send him to AJPW just to get beat. If WWE was asked to send over even a main roster talent to lose they would likely refuse, but that's just me creating hypotheticals.
The problem for me is that so far is the relationship with All Japan Pro Wrestling, it does not seem WWE genuinely wants to create a relationship that benefits both sides. Of course, they are more than willing to let Charlie Dempsey lose in Japan because it has little impact on how fans perceive him in America. Letting an undercard talent lose is more than worth it for a shot at getting international talent to come to your company when their deal is up.
Maybe the regime change from Vince McMahon to Triple H will change WWE's refusal to put international talent over against established WWE talent, but I have my reservations. The other reason WWE's influence in Japan is bad, is right now the Japanese wrestling scene can't afford to lose any more talent to America. You look at the top stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling in Will Ospreay and Kazuchika Okada, with Ospreay headed to All Elite Wrestling soon and Okada likely going to America as well might it be with either WWE or AEW.
Those two names alone display that Japan needs all the star power it can have. AEW has been putting on a full-court press to steal talent away from Japan, and if WWE continues the direction they are headed of doing the same, what will Japan have left?
The health of professional wrestling in Japan is essential to the functionality of the industry as a whole. Right now to me, there is a dark cloud hovering over wrestling in Japan, and I have no doubt the variety of promotions whether it be New Japan Pro Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, Stardom, Dragongate, etc. can work themselves out. The one thing they don't need is WWE trying to begin their push to get developmental support from Japan.
If WWE would let Japanese talent take on big names from WWE and let the home-turf talent win, my view on this subject might be different. As for right now, it's glaringly obvious that WWE is only in it for the long-term potential of acquiring new talent. The benefits for Japanese promotions are ever shrinking, while the potential for loss of talent grows the longer these relationships go.
All I want is for American wrestling and Japanese wrestling to co-exist in a world where ulterior motives aren't present. Events like AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door are the embodiment of that with members of both promotions winning matches over big names, but it's hard to look at WWE's relationship as genuine with Japanese wrestling.