5 NJPW wrestlers who could jump to WWE in 2019
WWE has been relentlessly signing anyone and everyone for the past few years, New Japan Pro Wrestling is the promotion which has suffered the most from WWE's raids.
In January 2016, Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows all jumped ship in the biggest mass talent jump since The Radicalz went from WCW to WWF in 2000.
WWE was able to grab all four simultaneously due to NJPW's contract system; each NJPW wrestler would typically sign a 1-year contract that would expire in January.
Ever since the raid in 2016, NJPW have taken measures to assure this never happens again, superstars like Kazuchika Okada are thought to be locked into multi-year contracts. However, most NJPW stars are still under 1-year deals.
Earlier this year, Ricochet and War Machine joined WWE. Head of Talent Relations, Paul 'Triple H' Levesque is still hunting for more wrestlers; NXT will introduce a new mid-card title (the North American Championship), and 205 Live is rumored to be adding a tag title.
Let's take a look at 5 NJPW wrestlers who may be gracing WWE rings in 2019.
#1 Kenny Omega
Two years running now, Omega's name has come up as a possible surprise Royal Rumble entrant. Such is the enthusiasm to the see the 'Best Bout Machine' in WWE.
Just five years ago, fans would be telling Omega to stay put, unless he wanted to end up the same way as Tensai - an NJPW superstar as Giant Bernard who quickly became a comedy character. But this is a very different WWE.
AJ Styles is a shining example; he was a star right-off-the-bat and WWE Champion in eight months. Styles and Omega have many similarities: both leaders of the Bullet Club and top foreigners in NJPW, but there are some key differences.
Omega has creative control in NJPW while Styles was just a regular wrestler. Omega and The Young Bucks are writing their storylines and playing them out on their YouTube show, Being The Elite. If Omega goes to WWE, there's little chance he will have such freedom (however Matt Hardy has been allowed to go all-out with his ‘Broken' character).
In-ring, Styles and Omega are both outstanding wrestlers although Styles promos are more polished and suited to American audiences. Omega's mic work in NJPW is tailored to a Japanese audience with limited English skills. He emphasizes keywords and is more animated to get his point across. It's a style that will cause Vince McMahon to yell out a few expletives.
Styles and Omega also have drastically different personal circumstances as well; Styles has a family in the United States while Omega lives in Japan. For Omega to join WWE, he must move to the US, a country he hasn't lived in since his Deep South days in 2006.
Omega has a lot on his plate, he recently reformed The Golden Lovers with Kota Ibushi, and he still has unresolved issues with The Bullet Club. Most crucially, his series with Okada is tied at one apiece.
Omega will eventually move to WWE; he's shown to be someone who relishes change. This is a man who went from wrestling a 7-year old girl to main-eventing the Tokyo Dome. But that move is probably is still 2-3 years off.