New Japan General Manager Firmly States There's No Deal With AEW
Two of All Elite Wrestling's biggest stars will be heavily featured at New Japan Pro Wrestling events this week. Jon Moxley, fresh off his surprise appearance at Double or Nothing, will wrestle in his first match since leaving WWE when he faces Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Championship at the Best of the Super Junior final show on June 5 at Sumo Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Jumping forward to Sunday, Chris Jericho will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event of the Dominion show in Osaka, Japan.
With these crossovers, some fans have begun to wonder if New Japan is starting up a talent partnership with AEW similar to their current deals with Ring of Honor and CMLL. New Japan's Michael Craven, the general manager of the international department, spoke with Sports Illustrated on the matter on Monday, firmly stating that no such deal exists.
"Loyalty is a big virtue, especially in Japanese culture," Craven said. "Loyalty to our partners is of utmost importance to us as we continue to foster the premiere network of wrestling talent in the world."
"We wish everybody at All Elite Wrestling nothing but the best in their ongoing endeavors, though we must stress we have no working arrangement at this time," he continued. "Again, we think our partners seek and deserve loyalty and an appropriate amount of care. We want our relationships to be mutually beneficial over the long haul, rather than just thinking in the moment."
Jericho had already been working with New Japan in a part-time deal as far back as 2017. Moxley, as Craven explained in a statement back in late May, is still free to take bookings with other companies until AEW's weekly television show on TNT starts in the fall.
"New Japan and Jon Moxley came to terms on an agreement some time ago, completely independently of All Elite," he said. "Our understanding is that he is free to wrestle in Japan. We wish AEW well, but have no working relationship as of now."
Robinson, who also came from WWE as part of the NXT developmental system, quickly began cutting promos on Moxley after the match was announced.
"You're exactly what I want, Jon, you're exactly what I want," Robinson said at a press conference. "But hear me when I tell you; if you think you're just going to come here to New Japan Pro-Wrestling — my home — and rape and pillage and leave it worse than you found it, and in six months you're out of here and you're just collecting a paycheck — if you think you're going to make your name on me, you're wrong."