WWE/NJPW Rumors: Several top NJPW stars potentially leaving for WWE?
What's the story?
Wrestle Kingdom 13 and this year's New Year's Dash show have finished and there were several shocks and surprises, eight titles changed hands at the Wrestle Kingdom 13, The Bullet Club grew during New Year's Dash and Jay White looks set to be the next top star. But, there were several results and events that have got people talking about several top NJPW stars leaving.
In case you didn't know...
Kota Ibushi took on Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight Title and the 'Aerial Assassin' went over in a big way (even if he did botch an elbow to the back of Ibushi's head, causing him to be stretchered out)
KUSHIDA battled Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title and lost in a convincing and unexpected way to the Bullet Club member.
Kazuchika Okada lost to Jay White in the biggest upset of the night, despite returning to the Rainmaker persona and ditching the long trousers for trunks to look like the star that saw him smash title run records.
Finally, Kenny Omega was dethroned as the IWGP Heavyweight Title holder by 'The Ace' Hiroshi Tanahashi amidst speculation surrounding 'The Best Bout Machine's future.
The heart of the matter
The above results are interesting because if you read between the lines they could say a lot about the future of the wrestlers involved, especially when you have other contextual clues to make assumptions.
For example, a report from earlier in December suggested that WWE were interested in signing KUSHIDA from NJPW. The report suggested that KUSHIDA's contract was up in January 2019. If you pair this with his title loss at Wrestle Kingdom, and the fact Drake Maverick announced several new faces for 205 Live, you start to build a decent picture of KUSHIDA going to WWE.
We reported that Kenny Omega was considering a WWE offer, you can read the full details of that offer here. However, his loss to Tanahashi in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13, and complete absence from New Year's Dash is telling, suggesting that he won't be staying with NJPW.
Ibushi isn't actually signed to NJPW so he can go wherever he wants, with WWE, AEW and NJPW on the table (as well as anyone else really?)
And that brings us to Kazuchika Okada. Is 'The Rainmaker' going to leave NJPW? Well, losing to Jay White could be interpreted as putting Jay over before leaving, 'going out on your back' as it were.
I have also been told by sources that Okada's deal with NJPW was up, but the company had a one year option to keep him around if they elected to, with him almost certainly leaving next year. My source also said that Okada was looking to join WWE.
If you're still sceptical, don't forget the reports that several NJPW were unhappy backstage and looking to leave the company, and the following report in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter from Dave Meltzer suggesting WWE had approached three top NJPW stars.
“Naito would be one of the three (at least) Japanese top guys feelers have been sent to. The other two that we’re aware of didn’t turn the offers down without thought although one would be a huge surprise and the other would be a great worker who I didn’t see flourishing in the WWE system, but also probably wouldn’t have any reservations about moving to the U.S. like many of the Japanese might.”
Those three stars were Naito, Okada and KUSHIDA.
Omega has his meeting with WWE this week and indications suggest he's likely to sign with the company. Less is known about KUSHIDA, Ibushi and Okada who all may end up staying with NJPW, or even going to AEW instead. Only time will tell. But, as the saying goes, there's no smoke without fire.
Disclaimer: The views of the writer do not reflect the views of Sportskeeda