This weekend marks the first time in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s illustrious history that Wrestle Kingdom, the January 4th tradition; will actually be held as a two day event. As part of Night 2, AEW Champion Chris Jericho will be taking on NJPW ‘Ace’ Hiroshi Tanahashi.
As part of the build up to the bout, Tanahashi claimed that if he defeated Jericho he would ‘open the forbidden door’ and ask for an AEW Championship match. Up to this point the relationship between the two companies has reportedly been splintered at best. In the latest episode of Wrestling Observer Radio Dave Meltzer had further information regarding the two companies; apparently Rocky Romero (of NJPW) and Jericho went to AEW owner Tony Khan to ask if the Championship could be used in the build up to the Wrestle Kingdom match. Khan gave the green light to the idea and NJPW featured AEW and the belt on their website. Conversely AEW did not make any mention of Tanahashi or NJPW on their own site or television programming.
Meltzer also noted that there is still a lot of bad blood between the two entities, more than previously thought. Apparently there have been legal threats made from NJPW’s side, however it was not made clear what these were. Meltzer did also note that although there are a lot of barriers that a deal could still be struck between the two companies. Currently the use of the AEW belt is just a deal between Jericho and Tanahashi. With Jericho being ‘protected’ as Champion it is doubtful that Tanahashi takes the win over Jericho in the bout.
You can check out our live coverage of Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night 2 here.