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February 20 Report
PWTorch has confirmed that Michael Elgin has signed a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Elgin was in Japan this weekend for the ROH vs. New Japan series, where a deal was signed after being negotiations earlier in the month.
The deal is for two years, according to Pro Wrestling Sheet, with Elgin still able to wrestle for top independents in the U.S.
As we reported in January, Elgin was looking to be a featured player in New Japan after having a break-out run in 2015 as part of the G1 Climax tournament.
Elgin got the commitment he was looking for from New Japan, resulting in a contract agreement.
2/25 Update: Michael Elgin commented to Scott Fishman for Channel Guide Magazine on signing with NJPW.
“The company is a good fit for me,” Elgin said. “Everyone is going to WWE right now. There are only so many spots to be filled and only so many programs. I really felt the two years with New Japan would give me more notice from them. It was also a goal to be there. Let’s say I reached out to WWE and went there after only four tours of Japan. I think I would have missed something because Japan was a heavy goal.”
January 13 Report
The fall-out from New Japan stars A.J. Styles, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows leaving for WWE is opening the door for a potential new gaijin star to emerge.
The prime candidates seem to be Kenny Omega and Michael Elgin. Elgin had a career resurgence in 2015 when he wowed Japanese fans and had great matches during the G1 Climax tournament. Elgin has since associated with top star Tanahashi on New Japan shows.
To kick off 2016, Omega ascended to the top of the Bullet Club food chain as part of the fall-out from the “Wrestle Kingdom” Tokyo Dome Show on January 5. Elgin is right next to him ready for a break-out year after his successful run in 2015.
PWTorch has learned that WWE is interested in Elgin, though. WWE seems to be interested in just about anyone with name credibility on the independents right now, but because Elgin is currently a free agent, he is attractive to WWE.
UPDATE: Michael Elgin spoke to Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated about his desire to stay with New Japan.
“I’d like to be a year exclusive with New Japan,” said Elgin. “I want to hold gold in Japan.”
If Elgin were to continue on the New Japan path, there is a big opening at the top of the card following the departures of Styles, Anderson & Gallows, and also Shinsuke Nakamura. The question is whether New Japan sees Elgin as worthy of a singles push on a regular basis at the level of A.J. Styles, not just an “ROH guy” traveling to Japan for a few tours per year.
New Japan is looking to expand their working relationship with Ring of Honor in 2016, so that could potentially raise Elgin’s profile to be thought of more highly by New Japan officials. It could also help his standing in Ring of Honor if he were to sign a new deal, especially with lingering questions about the contract statuses of top ROH stars.
This naturally raises the question of how much work Elgin will be doing for ROH moving forward. Does he essentially flip the roles he’s had in the two companies, making appearances at most New Japan events and only popping up in ROH when the schedule doesn’t conflict with his NJPW dates?
I know that New Japan is big on Elgin, but I hope he doesn’t get shot right into the main event and crowd out some of the homegrown guys who really deserve a run with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. If he wins that title before Hirooki Goto I’m going to be seriously ticked.