NJPW Star in Talks With WWE

Corporate restructuring impacts wrestling's dynamic talent landscape.

by Atia Mukhtar
NJPW Star in Talks With WWE
© WWE/Twitter

As the professional wrestling world continues to evolve, the movement of wrestlers between promotions remains a crucial interest to fans globally. This was exemplified by the buzz created earlier this year when Hikuleo, the imposing former NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion, was at the center of speculation over a potential move to WWE.

This conjecture gained momentum surrounding his pivotal "Loser Leaves Japan" match against the enigmatic "Switchblade" Jay White, now a high-profile AEW signee. Recent reports from "Fightful Select" have confirmed that Hikuleo was indeed engaged in serious discussions with WWE back in January.

The conversations were highly confidential, underscoring the delicate nature of such negotiations. Despite the allure of the American wrestling giant, Hikuleo ultimately decided his allegiance remained with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, emphasizing his belief that NJPW's wrestling ethos and his career are inextricably linked.

Hikuleo shed light on the deliberations with WWE, stating, "We talked about it for a while. It just wasn't the right time yet. I'm not sure there will ever be a right time, and many factors at that time didn't play out how we thought it would." His commitment to NJPW is a testament to his loyalty, a value deeply embedded in the promotion's culture.

Wrestling World Shakeup

The landscape of professional wrestling was further shaken by a corporate shakeup, with WWE experiencing a hiring freeze amid corporate restructuring and the formation of TKO Group Holdings by Endeavor, which also merged with UFC.

In contrast, Jay White's career trajectory was altered by his losses—first, being compelled to leave Japan after being defeated by Hikuleo and subsequently parting ways with NJPW following his match with Eddie Kingston.

Amidst these turbulent times, Hikuleo, progeny of the legendary Haku and brother to Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, has solidified his place in NJPW's history. His rare appearances in AEW, including a memorable match on "Dynamite" for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, have only bolstered his international reputation.

As the wrestling community anticipates the AEW Full Gear event, with Jay White challenging for the AEW World Championship, Hikuleo's steadfast presence in NJPW assures fans that some traditions in this dynamic sport remain firm.