WWE Would Not Be NJPW’s Best American Partner
New Japan Wrestling is one of the most successful wrestling promotions in the world. With a history stretching back nearly 50 years, the company has strategically made in-roads in the US via different partnerships. That includes most recently working with Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling to share talent and work out cross-promotion. The latest rumors suggest that NJPW may work with WWE next, with Vince McMahon angling toward an exclusive partnership. Teaming up with WWE would not be in their best interest.
WWE Is Too Self-Centered
WWE is the largest, most successful wrestling promotion in the world. A part of that success stems from always looking out for their own self interests.
WWE has a deceptively long history of working with other promotions. That includes deals with smaller promotions like Extreme Championship Wrestling, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and the United States Wrestling Association in the 1990s, as well as Evolve in more recent times. Each of these relationships were predicated on WWE infusing cash or loaning out talent, in exchange for the smaller companies serving as informal developmental territories for WWE.
While NJPW has more talent, resources, and clout than other promotions WWE has partnered with, and are certainly the top Japanese wrestling company, they’re still not on par with WWE. It would only be a matter of time before WWE pushed its weight around. WWE may be able to offer up talents for excellent matches, and some big names to put over New Japan stars, but there’s little possibility they’d allow true top guys like Roman Reigns to lose to NJPW talent. On the flip side, they probably would ask New Japan to sacrifice its brightest stars.
AEW Is A Better Partner For NJPW
AEW has a strong track record of working with New Japan already. That includes wrestlers who worked well in New Japan like Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks working in management positions, besides talents like Jon Moxley already crossing over between the two.
Besides a more organic connections already existing between AEW and NJPW, there’s the mater of AEW’s product catering to hardcore wrestling fans, who are also more likely to be interested in the Japanese wrestling product. While there’s an argument to be made that WWE offers access to a wider audience, and potentially more growth, the company is much more geared toward a casual audience and appealing to a broader aesthetic. Put more simply, in AEW, work rate is king, and match quality can transcend cultural and language barriers. It’s far less clear that WWE would truly get its audience behind NJPW.
ROH Or Impact Wrestling Represent Better Partners For NJPW
In a discussion of why WWE isn’t the best prospective partner for NJPW, it’s important to consider alternatives. While AEW is the most obvious other option—particularly given the work they’ve already done with New Japan, there are other ways NJPW could go.
Ring of Honor has its own history of cross-promoting with NJPW, including extended stretches of sharing talent, and as well as cross-promoting events. Not least of all, the jointly produced G1: SuperCard the companies put on over WrestleMania 35 weekend sold out Madison Square Garden. It would be difficult to recapture that magic, in part because the success of these efforts inspired AEW. However, the fact remains that there’s a track record of success.
Another reason for ROH to appeal to NJPW is that it’s a partnership with a clear imbalance of power in New Japan’s favor. While WWE is the largest wrestling promotion in the world, AEW can make a real case as number two, and that’s especially so in the United States. By contrast, NJPW has developed enough of a following in the US that, even on ROH’s home turf, they’d have to cede that NJPW has the bigger stars and deeper pool of top talent.
A similar dynamic would exist between NJPW and Impact Wrestling. While Impact has longevity as a big name brand in North America, its roster is predominantly populated by up and comers and veterans looking to reinvent themselves. These are names that would be fun to see mix it up with the best of New Japan. Impact also has enough exposure to help them continue to penetrate the US market, but NJPW would still remain in the driver’s seat in terms of most power dynamics.
In the end, the concept of WWE and NJPW working together is tantalizing because it would feel like an unprecedented move for both companies, and produce the highest volume of fresh dream matches. Despite these factors, when it comes to doing business, it’s difficult to imagine WWE would truly be the best US partners New Japan can find.