Between Harold Meij's departure as New Japan Pro-Wrestling's president, Hiroshi Tanahashi's surprise video cameo for Chris Jericho and the numerous references to previous NJPW storylines and events, the speculation that AEW might be working towards some sort of partnership with Japan's top wrestling promotion has seen a major increase over the past few weeks. And heading into his TNT Championship defense against Orange Cassidy at Dynamite's one-year anniversary special, Cody Rhodes was asked to give his thoughts on the possibility while speaking with the Asbury Park Press.
"I think you'll never see a full-scale, joint-promoted show," Rhodes said as the article mentioned AEW's intersections with the National Wrestling Alliance and Lucha Libre AAA. "We have too much pride in our individual brand. But in terms of the relationships, we're never closing the doors and we're never going to pull up the bridges."
Even though he was previously in New Japan just like Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, Rhodes has always been more positive about the idea in public. Back in January, the same speculation fired up when Chris Jericho took on Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 14 and offered up an AEW World Championship match if he lost to "The Ace."
"I think the thing that was strange to me was people were asking for this partnership," Rhodes told the New York Post at the time. "I don't know what a partnership would look like other than what you saw. Chris Jericho was part of one of the main events of Wrestle Kingdom, Jon Moxley as well. They both were successful.
"It's public knowledge that some guys here, myself included, have exemptions to work New Japan Pro-Wrestling," he added. "But I know that New Japan Pro-Wrestling's focus is New Japan and AEW's focus is AEW. So more likely what a partnership would look like is perhaps some sharing of talent, some shared creative, but we're not going to do a Super Clash III where (Kerry) Von Erich and (Jerry) Lawler are fighting over the title. Sorry, that's a real specific angle I brought up. I'm always hesitant to combine banners versus just respecting each other's banners. But I like how it's referred to as the forbidden door. I don't really think it's forbidden at all."
How do you feel about a potential partnership between AEW and New Japan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Check out the full card for Dynamite below:
- AEW World Championship: Jon Moxley vs. Lance Archer
- TNT Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. Orange Cassidy
- AEW World Tag Team Championships: FTR vs. The Best Friends
- AEW Women's World Championship: Hikaru Shida vs. Big Swole
- Miro & Kip Sabia vs. TBA
- MJF's "Career-Defining" Announcement