Ever since All Elite Wrestling launched as a promotion pro wrestling fans have been crossing their fingers that the Jacksonville-based promotion would form some sort of working relationship with New Japan Pro-Wrestling. On the surface, a deal made perfect sense right off the bat since a good chunk of AEW's top talent rose to prominence while working for the Japanese promotion. But for a variety of reasons it didn't happen, and the only crossovers fans would see would be when Jon Moxley or Chris Jericho would compete on New Japan pay-per-views.
But the barrier between the two company's, previously referred to by Hiroshi Tanahashi as "The Forbidden Door," was seemingly shattered over the past week when Moxley appeared on NJPW Strong, followed by Kenta's surprise appearance on AEW Dynamite. Kenny Omega is already teasing a tag team match involving Kenta for next week, and the long-awaited Moxley vs. Kenta match for the IWGP United States Championship will take place later this month.
On the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer confirmed that there is a new relationship between AEW and New Japan.
"The deal is done, and the sides have a working relationship. The pandemic probably sped it up, but it also holds it back at the same time. The only way to get Moxley was to make a deal," Meltzer said (h/t Cageside Seats). "...When AEW first started, I think New Japan had no clue of how successful they would be...they wanted Tony Khan to come and see them and he didn't. And even though they sent Chris Harrington, and even though the Young Bucks were office and they were ready to make the deal, New Japan thought that they were just fly-by-nighters and it's not gonna mean anything. You know, they just kind of big leageud 'em. And they were wrong, and they went their separate ways.
"And then they needed Jon Moxley because he had the US title...the only way to get him, because he couldn't go to Japan, was to do it here," he added. "But the only way to get him to do it here, it had to be approved by Tony Khan, so it opened the door. And Harold [Meij] was gone...I wrote when Harold was gone that that opens the door, and it did open the door."
Meltzer then explained that the deal could extend to other programs beyond Moxley vs. Kenta (the Bullet Club and its former members have been fanning the flames on an angle for weeks now), but it likely won't happen until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
"The answer is pretty much yes. I know people who can't wait to go back to Japan," Meltzer said. "The pandemic sped it up, but the pandemic also slows it down. Okada and Tanahashi and any of these guys can come here, but they can't. When the pandemic is over then they can come, and yeah at that point, relations are open. Anything is open. But it's probably not gonna be that soon because they would have to quarantine to go back."
"Everything is open, and nothing is open," he continued. "Because nothing can happen yet, unless someone's gonna come full time, and that's only gonna be young lions. But if the pandemic ends, is there an opening to do Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi at the Tokyo Dome? If everything is back to normal? Yes, there is an absolute opening...the wrestlers would want to do it. Could they do it in Madison Square Garden? Yes, they could. But is it gonna happen next month? No, it can't."