WWE Reportedly Making Push to Sign Top New Japan Star

If the WWE gets their way, a six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion from New Japan Pro Wrestling could be headed to North America early in 2019.

According to this week's edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE officials are making a hard push to sign KUSHIDA (Yujiro Kushida). Currently the reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, KUSHIDA is also a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion (alongside Alex Shelley as the Time Splitters), a two-time Best of the Super Juniors tournament winner (2015 and 2017), a Super J-Cup tournament winner (2016), and former Ring of Honor Television Champion.

One thing that is very much notable about the negotiations to bring in KUSHIDA is the fact that, according to Meltzer, WWE is ignoring typical protocol as it relates to making overtures to someone who is still under contract to a rival promotion.

KUSHIDA's contract with New Japan expires at the end of January and WWE has reportedly been trying to sign him for several weeks, with the negotiations picking up steam in recent weeks as New Japan gets ready to present their biggest show of the year, WrestleKingdom 13 at the Tokyo Dome, which could end up being one of KUSHIDA's last big matches for the company.

Meltzer reports that the fact we are even hearing about WWE's attempts to sign KUSHIDA while he is still under contract to New Japan proves that WWE is getting more aggressive in regards to talent acquisition. According to the report, WWE likely wouldn't be making the same blatant attempt to sign someone under contract to another North American wrestling company like Ring of Honor, but the fact that New Japan is headquartered in another country could apparently make it harder to seek legal action. That does not mean, though, that New Japan will not attempt to take said legal action.

The signing of KUSHIDA is far from confirmed at this point but reports indicate WWE feels quite strongly about their odds. Some preliminary discussions have already taken place about ways in which they will incorporate him into WWE NXT.

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The report goes on to note that KUSHIDA is not the only top star from Japan that WWE is currently targeting. This is especially interesting given the fact that the WWE contracts of AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows are all set to expire in 2019. Styles, Anderson, and Gallows all jumped from New Japan to WWE following WrestleKingdom 10 three years ago.

KUSHIDA is set to defend his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship against Taiji Ishimori on January 4th at WrestleKingdom 13.