When WWE signed four top NJPW workers, it made sense for fans to think that they were done poaching talent from the promotion for a while. However, that is not the case, as WWE loves a great deal of talent coming out of NJPW. Some assumed Triple H would attempt to make a deal with the company and try to arrange a talent-sharing deal with NJPW and WWE NXT, but that does not look likely.
What is likely is that WWE will most likely attempt to sign NJPW talent who have expiring contracts this year or early next year. According to the contractual language of the NJPW deal, no talent can talk with another company while under contract. Obviously, non-contracted talent can talk to another company to a star within that promotion, which is how many believe Shinsuke Nakamura ended up getting into talks with WWE early on. Of course, that has not been confirmed.
NJPW loves to sign talent to one-year deals, but with the poaching of their talent, the plan is now to sign talent to multi-year deals. One man who is a major part of the company that NJPW will not want to lose is current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, who is considered by many to be the best wrestler on the planet. If you’ve ever seen him work, then you know why people believe it. He is the perfect fit for WWE, standing at six-foot-three and weighing in at over 220 pounds.
The Wrestling Observer reports that Okada is on their radar right now, and the main reason for the love on WWE’s end is his size. WWE likes Japanese talent, as they usually perform well. However, the problem is that most are small and not believable for matches at the top of the card. It is one reason WWE loved Nakamura, who is also taller. Okada was offered a lucrative five-year deal by NJPW, but there is no word yet on if he will take the company up on the offer.
Okada has mentioned in the past that he plans to remain loyal to NJPW and even stated that he won’t go to WWE, which many were laughing about at the time. The main reason is that WWE’s money and fame are tough to turn down. However, with the rise of NJPW, they could very well start to become the WWE of the east, and Okada would be the John Cena of the company for years to come as they break through to other nations. NJPW also makes a good profit on the work they do per year and they pay very well, which is why many of the best in the world end up there.
TNA Wrestling had Okada under their banner from 2010 to 2011 and really dropped the ball with him. Some fans believe this is what turned Okada off on American companies, which could be why he was against working with WWE. If they cannot get Okada, it would be a blow, but they aren’t planning to stop with him anyway.
WWE is also interested in other talent from NJPW such as Kenny Omega, Kushida, and the recently departed talent from the company, Kota Ibushi. Ibushi is expected to be part of the WWE Cruiserweight Tournament this summer, so he very well could be signed by WWE after this.
Omega mentioned he was mainly staying with NJPW to face Ibushi, but now that he’s possibly headed to WWE, Omega could follow next year as he just re-signed for another year with NJPW.
WWE is set to be quite aggressive on the market this year with talent across the world from Japan to Mexico and The UK. WWE very well could be bringing in every available top talent there is, so no one should be off the board for them it seems. If they have an expired contract and are not over 40 years of age, they very well could get a call from WWE this year. There is at least one talent out of Lucha Underground who is interested in leaving that WWE could grab, but it is unknown who it is at this present time. He apparently has not worked for a major/mainstream organization, though.
Japan will probably get most of the buzz, as there are said to be a lot of wrestlers WWE has an interest in. It seems that Okada is the crown jewel, and if the company manages to get him, they would probably be okay with whatever else happens. It will be tough, however, and with what NJPW might offer, WWE will have to counter with a very big deal. Okada is worth every penny, but he very well could see millions per year either way. It will then come down to where he wants to be more, and many think that this will keep him in Japan. He is only 28-years-old, so if WWE cannot get him now, they could down the line.
[Image via NJPW]