Editorials NJPW WWE

The Great Talent Exodus: How New Japan and WWE benefit, lose

Over the past few days, the big buzz has been about AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows heading towards WWE. People are looking at it from the stand point of WWE’s view. In signing away four of New Japan’s best talents, WWE looks to expand their horizons into not only Japan but, the entire world in 2016. WWE has never shown such a diversified roster as it has now. I believe this started back when they signed La Sombra in November as WWE is trying to not only ramp up their third brand in NXT, but the main touring roster as well as these guys that have been in NXT for a long time need to be called up.

For New Japan though, it’s a whole new ballgame. For those people that don’t know, NJPW signs their contracted talent one year at a time, from January to January, and with that most people within Japan just assume that these talent, especially the native talents, will just sign with them automatically without considering other options. That wasn’t the case with these four talents as Nakamura, Styles, Gallows, and Anderson allegedly went up to Gedo just before their biggest show of the year and dropped a nuke. Sure NJPW is the number one promotion in Japan and sure they don’t feel WWE’s coming after them before all this happened. Yes, we had Kiddani publicly say that WWE was trying to buy NJPW TV rights for their network presumably to showcase talent and pick and choose who the fans wanted. What they weren’t banking on was Nakamura wanting to expand his horizons and try his luck in WWE.

As for one Shinsuke Nakamura, what are the positives of him leaving a very comfortable situation in NJPW to start from conceivably the bottom of the food chain of World Wrestling Entertainment? One is money, Triple H is really smarter than people give him credit for. He’s very savvy with the internet crowd and is in touch with what wrestling fans want. He is the antithesis to today’s Vince McMahon, as people see him as old and out of touch. Triple H had to see the inherent potential even an almost 36 year old beat up Japanese star can give you as he has the most charisma of any wrestler I’ve seen besides Cena and Lesnar in the last 15 years. Let’s face it, if this was even last year, WWE wouldn’t be signing a 36 year old Shinsuke Nakamura because most people in that company over analyze the negatives instead of insinuating the positives and put that alleged “star making machine” to the test. But, Triple H seeing the doomsday that WWE faces if they don’t create that star that’s on a John Cena or higher level. And let’s face it Roman Reigns isn’t the answer. Signing guys like Nakamura and Styles plus having guys in developmental like Balor, Sombra, and Zayn gives WWE more time to figure out WHO that star is. It’s a safety blanket because we know that 3/4 of this roster isn’t going to be “the guy”, so they have to bring in established stars from other places. What does this have to do with specifically Nakamura? Everything because I can honestly say WWE needs Shinsuke more than NJPW does and Mr. Nakamura is smart enough to see that.

This shows exactly what insecurities WWE has in their roster when they’re going to spend six figures on four guys above the age of 32 (Gallows is surprisingly the youngest of the bunch at 32 but the other three are above 35).  As much as John Cena insists he will be there forever, he just won’t be. His body will break down like all wrestlers do, and he’ll want to take outside commitments to build his fame and establish his legacy as a star. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are 3 year plans that need to be treated like stars while the iron is striking hot.

Now the main question for both WWE and NJPW is who’s going to step up to the plate and hit a home run? For NJPW, it’s going to be a rough patch but you have one hell of an ace in Okada as well as a great supporting cast if exploited right. Especially with guys like Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega who once they grab that proverbial “brass ring” that the owner of WWE would say and propel NJPW into the new glory period. We’ll see if someone who isn’t even in the company could be signed and change everything and there are those type of game changers out there in Japan (specifically Daisuke Sekimoto, Ken Ohka, Go Shiozaki and Yuji Okabayashi). For WWE, who is that next Cena level guy? Will Roman Reigns be that guy or is it someone in NXT or is it someone who isn’t there yet? There is a list of guys I would push but who would listen to a 19 year old radio host and columnist about wrestling talent? WWE needs to look in the long term and not be judgmental towards the fans and who they want because that’s their biggest problem. The people in WWE that make the decisions with the exception of Triple H, aren’t exactly known for being “people pleasers.” And the fans need a big star that connects to them and it’s fair to take the fans’ input very seriously.

Thanks for reading this column. You can follow me on Twitter at @GetintheRing123 and you can listen to my show Get in the Ring on the Wrestling With Words Network or live on Thursdays from 3-5 pm Eastern on www.montcoradio.com where music and minds meet.

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