Recently reunited Golden Lovers Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi are set to face Best Friends Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor at WrestleCon in New Orleans the week before Wrestlemania. It should be a fun match, but the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter reveals it wasn’t the original plan. Apparently, Lovers vs. Friends was going to be Lovers vs. Lucha Brothers (Pentagon 0M and Rey Fenix), “but New Japan nixed it as they didn’t want their guys wrestling against Mexicans who weren’t CMLL guys,” to use WON’s words.
WON also claims this makes the upcoming Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Rey Mysterio match at Strong Style Evolved “hard to explain,” but it actually doesn’t. Mysterio debuted in Mexico and made a name for himself in AAA, but became an American wrestling legend. But if NJPW is now exclusively working with CMLL out of all Mexican wrestling promotions, Liger vs. Mysterio shows that Rey is not contracted with AAA, etc., although we still don’t know his status with WWE.
NJPW has a close relationship with CMLL: they put on annual joint supershow Fantastica Mania together and send talent to them for learning excursions, after which they tend to come back as narcissist heels. However, the Elite (Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks) faced Rey Fenix, Penta El Zero M, and Flamita as recently as September 2017 at PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles. This could point to a recent change in NJPW and CMLL’s relationship, and possibly to NJPW being stricter about who their talent works with in the future.
So for those trying to keep track of inter-promotional relationships at home, here’s how things seem to stand:
- NJPW doesn’t work with Mexican promotions except for CMLL.
- You can go do an angle for NJPW and be on Raw 25 later that month wearing a shirt referencing that angle, at least if you’re Chris Jericho.
- If you’re also-a-legend Rey Mysterio, you can be in the Royal Rumble and then show up on NJPW programming shortly after.
- WWE wrestlers can reference NJPW continuity to promote Wrestlemania matches.
- However, if you work for WWE and take part in one of Bullet Club’s faux-Monday Night Wars shenanigans you will be fired.
- HOWEVER, if you work for WWE and used to be in Bullet Club you can USE THE WORDS “BULLET CLUB” on the most recent episode of Ride Along and cause zero drama.
- We were supposed to pretend Sting hadn’t wrestled for like a decade when he was going to fight Triple H at Wrestlemania, but now WWE will acknowledge at the 205 Live GM used to be called Rockstar Spud.
- Lucha Underground talent can work for Impact, but not ROH or WWE, and it’s unclear what they can do with NJPW.
And I’m not even going to try to summarize all the name/gimmick copyright issues and where they stand in a bullet point list. The world of pro wrestling contracts is complicated, and we’ll see if this NJPW/CMLL development makes it any more so.