Partial Source: The Wrestling Observer Newsletter
As announced last week, New Japan star Jushin Thunder Liger is coming in to work the August 22nd WWE NXT Takeover: Brooklyn event. He will face Tyler Breeze on the show. The announcement caused quite the stir, due to the fact that New Japan has a working relationship with ROH. The NXT show also goes head to head with ROH’s event at MCU Field that night, which features top NJPW stars Kazuchika Okada, Shinsuke Nakamura, and KUSHIDA. Alex Shelley, Lance Archer & Davey Boy Smith Jr are also scheduled to work the ROH event.
The feeling is that this puts ROH in a very bad position. The New Japan relationship is very beneficial to ROH as it provides some talent more bookings, the joint shows in May were a big success (both financially and critically), it gives ROH a big time feel and allows for talents like A.J. Styles, The Young Bucks and Roppongi Vice to be brought in for big events. ROH may feel as if they can’t trust New Japan, but if the relationship changes or ends, it wont happen until after the August event at MCU Field.
One other aspect coming from this is that the New Japan deal is one of the things that makes ROH attractive for some talent, leading to them signing with ROH. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly and Matt Taven & Michael Bennett have been booked well by New Japan (both teams had tag-team title runs, and O’Reilly was rewarded with a great BOTSJ run while Michael Elgin is currently competing in the G1 Climax Tournament.
Liger has the ability to book himself outside of New Japan, but there are limits to what he can do. Since NJPW has a working relationship with CMLL, Liger would never appear on a AAA event running against a CMLL event. The deal looks to open the door for a working relationship, to some degree, between WWE and New Japan. The main thing here is that they are bringing Liger in to specifically work for their brand that targets the hardcore fans, directly against ROH.
WWE is reportedly making other moves in regards to ROH, including WWE contacting at least one arena that ROH runs events at with the idea of running shows provided they no longer book ROH live events. A deal like this will not hurt ROH badly at first, but it would make extra work for them to find a new reliable venue in that area. Obviously, ROH officials aren’t happy about this.
Several top ROH talents have their contracts expiring in January of 2016, and WWE has changed their tone on signing them (now they are interested). The clear message on the independent scene is that talent is being steered away from signing with ROH and TNA. Once ROH signed with Destination America and it was revealed that Kevin Owens had signed an outside action figure deal, Vince McMahon stated that he wanted everyone who has real promise and is a free agent locked up in some form away from TNA and ROH.
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