Recently we’ve been starting to see signs that WWE may be turning into a somewhat friendlier, more collaborative company. They’ve forged ties with Evolve/WWN, and now there’s mounting evidence they may be looking to strengthen international relationships, as well.
WWE recently brought in Jushin Thunder Liger on loan from New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the rumor mill has been buzzing that some sort of working relationship may be forming between WWE and NJPW. Well, WWE may have made a more serious play than anybody knew.
Takaaki Kidani, President of NJPW’s parent company Bushiroad, recently posted an article about the company’s various business ventures. Midway through the column, Kidani casually drops the fact that WWE proposed putting NJPW programming on the WWE Network, which NJPW, somewhat surprisingly, rejected. Here’s the full passage in English, courtesy of a fan on Twitter…
“One proposed idea would be for the WWE to show NJPW footage on the Network, but this type of proposal just shows that they don’t see us as competition. Play NJPW footage on the Network, see if any of our wrestlers gain popularity, then buy that wrestler out; that’s probably the extent of their thoughts on it. It’s a very obvious strategy.”
It should be mentioned that NJPW has been trying to break into the American market on their own. They have their own streaming service, New Japan World, which is available in English, and have a weekly show on Mark Cuban’s AXS TV.
Kidani’s speculation about WWE’s true motivations seem pretty dead-on to me, but could a spot on the WWE Network be worth being used to a degree? Is struggling to crack to the U.S. market on their own the right choice? I’m only a casual NJPW viewer, so I’d like to hear what some of you hardcore puroresu fanatics think of the situation.
via Wrestling Inc.