So, remember how yesterday we wrote about NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 and that if you weren’t familiar with some of the company’s biggest stars that you should get to soon? Well, it looks like you are going to get to soon. In a blockbuster acquisition that seems to be all-but confirmed from the men themselves since the news broke on numerous reputable wrestling websites, the WWE have acquired a number of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest talents.
According to Court Bauer and Dave Meltzer, those talents reportedly include current IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, former IWGP Heavyweight Champion and longtime TNA Wrestling ace A.J. Styles and “two to three” members of the Bullet Club, including Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson. Once confirmed, this could be one of the biggest talents coups of the WWE’s modern era.
AJ Styles is a name that most American fans would be familiar with since he’s done almost everything that there is to do in professional wrestling except enter the WWE. He is a 3-time NWA Heavyweight Champion, a 2-time TNA World Heavyweight Champion, a 6-time X-Division Champion, 2-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and a former Ring Of Honor Pure Wrestling Champion. To many, he’s known as the greatest competing American wrestler to never have a legit run with the WWE. He was named 2014’s Most Outstanding Wrestler by the Wrestling Observer, and ranked #4 on STASHED’s 2015 list of “50 Best Wrestlers In The World Right Now.”
Nakamura on the other hand is far-and-away New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest star. He’s a 3-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, a 5-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, a G1 Climax winner (in 2011), a G1 Tag League winner (in 2006). “The King Of Strong Style” is known for his brutal wrestling style as well as his larger-than-life persona. Along with fellow NJPW wrestler and current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, Nakamura is featured in the Japanese music video for Pharrell’s mega-hit “Happy.” He also competed against then IWGP Heavyweight Champion and current WWE superstar, Brock Lesnar, in 2006. Nakamura, NJPW’s current Intercontinental champion, isn’t expected to leave NJPW right away as he still holds the gold. However, Styles is rumored to debut in the WWE as soon as January 24th at the 2016 Royal Rumble.
Gallows previously competed in the WWE as Festus and Straight Edge Society member Luke Gallows alongside CM Punk and Joey Mercury. “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson, another signee has mentioned wanting to be a part of NXT’s “Balor Club,” a takeoff of the wildly popular stable “The Bullet Club” of which AJ Styles was the leader of and was founded by current NXT Champion Finn Balor. Machine Gun even wore Balor-themed trunks during his Wrestle Kingdom 10 match.
Tama Tonga of the Bullet Club is also rumored to have signed with the WWE. Tonga is the adopted son of the legendary Haku, the uncle of the most famous wrestler in history.
Lending more truth to the rumors were the events that took place this morning at NJPW’s “New Year’s Dash,” the company’s version of the usually newsworthy Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania. Former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Kenny Omega, pinned Nakamura in a tag team match and announced that he’s coming for his IWGP Intercontinental Championship, lending credence that Shinsuke is about to drop his title. Omega then turned on his partner in the match, A.J. Styles, leading to a scrum between the entire Bullet Club including the Young Bucks. This culminated in Omega and the Young Bucks laying out Styles with a triple superkick. After The Bullet Club argued amongst each other, they united into beating down Styles and essentially wrote him out of the company. After recovering, Styles took a tearful bow to the Japanese crowd which all but signified the end of the Styles era in New Japan.
Watch everything that transpired in the video below.
As a little bonus, the wrestling world obviously had to chime in on social media. Check out these interesting tweets from the past few days.
— Finn Bálor (@wwebalor) November 3, 2015
2016 we will change the business pic.twitter.com/c67XFOjXnP
— Finn Bálor (@wwebalor) December 31, 2015
Dave says WWE was upset with the NJPW names getting out and that there were surprises in the Rumble (lending credibility to the AJ story).
— DTAM (@DeathToAllMarks) January 5, 2016
Dave says Nakamura and AJ were not signed for NXT, but Shinskay may go to learn the style.
— DTAM (@DeathToAllMarks) January 5, 2016
— Finn Bálor (@wwebalor) January 4, 2016
Photo Credit: NJPW.