WWE is reportedly approaching three stars from Japan’s New Japan Pro Wrestling about making the jump to the WWE.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, the WWE is reaching out to at least three of NJPW’s top three stars.
One of these is supposed to be former IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito. This report from Meltzer appears to confirm an earlier report from Tokyo Sports that the WWE had reached out to Naito but he had turned them down.
According to Tokyo Sports, WWE made Naito an offer sometime after the NJPW Dominion show last June. It was during Dominion that Naito lost his championship to the current titleholder, Chris Jericho.
From what he told Tokyo Sports, it would seem that Naito turned down the WWE offer because he is quite happy with his career with the NJPW. NJPW Announcer Chris Charlton translated Naito’s response in a Twitter post.
https://t.co/lCYX6Fm3Ze Naito received a WWE offer after Dominion and turned it down. ‘I didn’t even give it thought. This New Japan ring is already the world’s number 1 stage. The fans know this. That’s why I think we should focus on our home crowd before looking international’
— chris charlton (@reasonjp) November 6, 2018
“This New Japan Ring is already the world’s number one stage,” said Naito. “That’s why I think we should focus on our home crowd before looking international.”
Naito is set to face Jericho again for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship during Wrestle Kingdom 13 on January 4, 2019.
As to who the other NJPW stars the WWE approached are, Metzler remains vague.
“The other two that we’re aware of didn’t turn the offers down without thought although one would be a huge surprise and the other would be a great worker who I don’t see flourishing in the WWE system, but also probably wouldn’t have any reservations about moving to the U.S. like many of the Japanese might.”
Currently, WWE’s biggest acquisition from NJPW would be the current U.S. Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. The King of Strong Style made his name in the NJPW where he was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion thrice, the IWGP Intercontinental Champion five times, and an IWGP Tag Team Champion.