There is no doubt that Bryan Danielson is one of the most established names in the world of professional wrestling right now. He spent several years in promotions all around the world, including NOAH, ROH and numerous independent companies. He was also a massive star in WWE before debuting in AEW. That being said, it seems he was involved in WWE and AEW fighting over NJPW.
Back in 2021, NJPW and WWE were in talks in order to form a possible partnership in the future, which was a move made by the then-WWE President Nick Khan. Khan was trying to make a deal with NJPW so that WWE may become the exclusive United States partner for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Of course, that deal never came to fruition at that time. Interestingly enough, WWE ended up working with NJPW in the end, as they allowed Karl Anderson to work Wrestle Kingdom 17.
According to Dave Meltzer in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer explained the situation, and how Bryan Danielson was involved in AEW and WWE fighting over NJPW.
“Well, given this is a story that I know better than most and actually reported first, Khan did know about the story and publicly responded to it after I reported it first.
The story actually dated back to Bryan Danielson. Danielson at the time wanted to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling, whether he was in WWE and AEW. Others in WWE had at least talked about it because at the time New Japan was hot, with many of the best wrestlers in the world, and a highly appreciative fan base.
It’s funny now because Danielson is 18 months into his contract and still hasn’t gone to Japan, partially because he’s been getting to do the type of matches he likes in AEW and hasn’t wanted to go to Japan until cheering and booing was back, which just happened.
When he told WWE, whether it was Vince McMahon or Nick Khan, it did result in Nick Khan opening communications with New Japan. While others denied it, Tony Khan found out and I also found out that the entry was for WWE to be the exclusive American talent source for New Japan, which would end relationships with AEW and Impact.
A key in Danielson not making a decision for months was to wait until that story played out, because if he left WWE for AEW, with working Japan being a key part of the decision, and then found himself once again locked out of Japan, the decision of him going to AEW could and probably would have played out differently.
When it was clear that Tony Khan would have the New Japan deal, and not Nick Khan, Danielson went with Tony Khan. Obviously it wasn’t the only reason and there were many reasons, but it was part of the decision-making process.
However, Tony Khan was well aware of this long before this story ever broke. I was well aware of this as far as being told off the record months earlier, and it wasn’t until I got a second source confirming it, and this was months later, did I write anything on it. And Tony Khan was long in play as far as having that knowledge before I wrote anything and likely had the deal itself solidified by then.
Tony Khan is not against the idea of Bryan Danielson competing in NJPW in the G1 Climax tournament but isn’t sure if that is feasible anytime soon. Regardless, AEW and NJPW have a good relationship and that’s all that matters.
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