With AEW and IMPACT Wrestling starting a working relationship at the end of 2020, fans have been wondering about the potential for other promotions to also work with AEW.
Alongside IMPACT, AAA and the NWA work with AEW to varying degrees, and last week it seemed as though the big had one had finally occurred; AEW and New Japan Pro Wrestling working together, with the proverbial ‘forbidden door’ apparently kicked wide open when KENTA attacked IWGP US Champion Jon Moxley at the climax of AEW: Dynamite.
However, it is still unclear if this is a true partnership or just a one-off deal.
While AEW talents like Moxley and Chris Jericho had been working for both promotions, there did not seem to be a proper relationship at hand. Things only got more confusing when Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers turned up to IMPACT’s Hard To Kill pay per view in Bullet Club t-shirts.
NJPW’s Tama Tonga has been furious on social media about Omega, The Young Bucks, and The Good Brothers ‘too sweeting’ and alluding to the Bullet Club, and conflicting reports from both sides have further muddied what the nature of this relationship actually is.
Former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Rocky Romero recently sat down with The Wrestling Perspective Podcast to talk about the deal: "The idea of the whole thing, it really goes down to KENTA and Moxley, and how Moxley is basically the centrepiece of all this. He really is. As much as you want to say Kenny [Omega] is, but I really feel like Mox is because IMPACT even coming to AEW was to work with Moxley. Obviously, alongside Kenny. Then KENTA coming to AEW, showing up on Dynamite, really for one reason and one reason only, and that because Moxley is the IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Champion.
“This thing kind of got put together, you know, we got the okay from Moxley to come to New Japan Strong which is every Friday night... That's kind of where it all started, not knowing that KENTA was going to be on AEW. That came kind of later and quickly got put together. Everybody seemed to be excited to work together because they knew it was going to be, promotion wise, it's going to be f***ing mega huge because nobody was expecting it."
Romero later clarified that there was a modicum of bad blood between the two promotions:
"The relationship with New Japan and AEW hasn't been a good one, even though Tony Khan has been very cool with letting Jericho bring the AEW title at last year's Wrestle Kingdom and little things like that. I mean, it just wasn't really a great situation when the [Young] Bucks and Kenny and Cody [Rhodes] left New Japan."
However on Monday’s Being The Elite, The Young Bucks and The Good Brothers alluded to the ‘forbidden door being open’ with Matt Jackson claiming it is “closed shut” and Nick adding KENTA in AEW is “going to be maybe a week or two programme - that’s it.”
But in a further twist, AEW uploaded a preview of this week’s Dynamite to their official YouTube channel, with Tony Schiavone clearly saying to camera: “Is The Bullet Club getting back together?”
Whether this is a collection of storyline red herrings, adherences to kayfabe, or the left hand not knowing what the right is doing, it makes for an intriguing situation. As to where this AEW/NJPW relationship goes, we’ll just have to wait and see, with more clues hopefully appearing when KENTA and Kenny Omega team together on AEW: Dynamite this Wednesday.
Rocky Romero transcription - H/T to Fightful