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-New Japan and AEW are working together for the first time. The first domino to fall was seen last night on Dynamite when Kenta, who holds the right to challenge contract for the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship, made a surprise appearance and attacked Jon Moxley after the main event to set up their IWGP U.S. Title match later this month on NJPW Strong. Moxley appeared in a video at Wrestle Kingdom in January and stated that he would be facing Kenta for the IWGP U.S. Championship.
The only way for NJPW to get Jon Moxley to defend the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship was to enter into a working relationship. Moxley couldn’t go to Japan to defend his title and NJPW couldn’t use him in the U.S. without AEW CEO Tony Khan’s permission. NJPW also didn’t want to strip Moxley of the title according to Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer.
If there wasn’t a pandemic, Moxley’s AEW contract would have allowed him to fly to Japan and wrestle when he was free of his AEW commitments to defend the IWGP U.S. Hvt. Championship, so perhaps the two sides working together would have been delayed further.
Former NJPW President and CEO Harold Meij resigning from NJPW last October was the catalyst for the wheels to get in motion for NJPW and AEW to work together for the first time.
In November, AEW CEO Tony Khan talked about having multiple aces up his sleeve to play and talked about a shift of the balance of power in wrestling at an AEW media scrum. Khan made it clear that AEW wanted to compete with WWE as well during the scrum. Kenta’s appearance at the end of Dynamite last night was clearly one of the aces up Khan’s sleeve.
Khan also referenced having the aces up his sleeve to play in a tweet from November after PAC made his surprise return on Dynamite on Nov. 11.
Khan wrote, “Thank you everyone who watched #AEWDynamite last night! A shift in wrestling’s balance of power has begun & the winners will be the wrestling fans. PAC’s returned after 8 months & I have aces up the sleeve in the weeks ahead. You won’t get them all at once but you’ll get them all.”
AEW wanted to work with NJPW when the company was forming in 2019, but at the time, NJPW didn’t believe AEW was going to amount to anything and in essence they blew them off when both sides had talks in Japan during Wrestle Kingdom weekend in 2019. PWTorch had heard from multiple sources about the failed talks between both sides that weekend.
The options are limited for now as to how far the working relationship between NJPW and AEW can go right now due to the pandemic. Kenta was able to make an appearance on Dynamite because he lives in Orlando.
There is a reason to be optimistic about AEW and NJPW’s working relationship growing in the future, but for now it is just a deal for Kenta to appear next week on Dynamite and for Moxley to defend the IWGP U.S. Championship on The New Beginning USA on Feb. 26.
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer first reported that Harold Meij leaving NJPW was the reason for both sides to revisit talks of working together.
–After Dynamite went off the air last night, Kenny Omega challenged Jon Moxley & Lance Archer to a tag match in an online exclusive clip. Omega said that Kenta would be his partner, despite Kenta saying “f–k you” to Omega when he tried to too sweet him.
Today, AEW made the match official in a tweet saying AEW GM Tony Khan had signed off on the match. The match is now official, as Kenny Omega & Kenta will team to face Jon Moxley & Lance Archer on Dynamite next week.
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