WWE has opened the proverbial Forbidden Door. On Tuesday, “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson announced on his Instagram account that he will be returning to New Japan Pro-Wrestling to defend his NEVER Openweight Championship at New Japan’s December 14th event.
In the video – which can be seen at this link – Anderson and his OC partner Luke Gallows confirmed that they would both be appearing at the event, although there was no indication as to whether Gallows would also be wrestling. Their “OC” tag team partner AJ Styles was also seen at the end of the video, but didn’t hint at whether he would make the trip as well. It’s noted that there are no WWE live events scheduled for that day.
Anderson won the title in June, before he and Gallows returned to WWE in October. He was scheduled to defend the title in November at NJPW’s Battle Autumn, but had to pull out from the event in order to compete at WWE’s Crown Jewel show in Saudi Arabia. At the time, NJPW President Takami Ohbari told Tokyo Sports that he was angry about Anderson pulling out of the show. Anderson, in rebuttal, said that NJPW had not contacted him about the booking. Based on today’s announcement, it would appear there is no lingering hostility between the two – assuming that it wasn’t all an elaborate booking plan to begin with.
This marks the second time in the past month that WWE has expressed a willingness to work with other wrestling companies, something that the company has eschewed in the past. In October, it was announced that Shinsuke Nakamura will be competing for Japan’s NOAH promotion, as part of Keiji Mutoh (aka the Great Muta)’s retirement tour. Nakamura will face Mutoh on January 1, as part of its New Year 2023 tour.