According to this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, no AEW talent are currently scheduled to perform at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 15 at the Tokyo Dome in January 2021.
However, Dave Meltzer also reported that this isn’t something that’s “locked in stone.”
This comes as a surprise for many, as Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho played major roles in NJPW, especially at last year’s event where Jericho appeared with the AEW title.
Travel between America and Japan has caused many issues for various members of the AEW and NJPW rosters, most notably Jon Moxley and Hikaru Shida. Moxley’s absence has been particularly noticeable in recent NJPW events as he’s still currently their IWGP US Heavyweight Champion.
COVID19 guidelines require any foreign travelers to Japan or America to quarantine for two weeks prior to appearing in public. This means that for any wrestlers scheduled to appear at Wrestle Kingdom would need to leave the US by December 20th to be there for January 4th. However, this wouldn’t leave substantial time for wrestlers to plan out their matches.
Furthermore, with zero appearances by either Moxley or Jericho in NJPW, this hasn’t allowed bookers to conveniently write them into any storylines.
With the recent announcement of Jon Moxley taking on Kenny Omega for the AEW title in early December, many fans speculated that this could be a convenient way of writing Moxley out of the title picture while he travelled to Japan to perform at Wrestle Kingdom. However, this doesn’t seem to be the proposed direction.
The relationship between AEW and NJPW continues to be a point of speculation. Furthermore, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter also noted:
“It’s funny because the people at New Japan who are wrestling people want the relationship as well, but in Japan it’s been hard for some to get through the bad feelings of working with someone who took so much talent. But at the same time, they can have access to that talent needed for big events once the pandemic is over if they make a deal, and most of those guys weren’t working full tours anyway.“
It was former NJPW president Harold Meij was thought to be a major barrier in preventing any kind of AEW-NJPW relationship. However, since his resignation last month, AEW have made multiple references to NJPW on their shows, including airing footage of last year’s Tokyo Dome match between Jon Moxley and Lance Archer.