Rocky Romero has opened up about the friction that existed between NJPW and AEW in the early days of the Tony Khan-led promotion.
Early in 2019, Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks left NJPW and caused an earthquake in pro wrestling by teaming up with Tony Khan to create the first new major US wrestling promotion since WCW folded in 2001. Kenny Omega soon joined the trio when his contract expired at the end of January.
The stars were a huge loss to NJPW as, at the time, they formed the wildly popular subgroup of Bullet Club, The Elite and were set to be a key part of the Japanese promotion’s expansion into the US. This led to no small amount of tension between the promotions.
However, three years on, there has been something of a thaw in relations, with AEW stars appearing on NJPW’s weekly US-based show, STRONG, and major NJPW stars turning up on Dynamite, with The Best Friends group even being welcomed into NJPW’s CHAOS faction.
Speaking exclusively to Inside The Ropes’ own Liam Alexander-Stewart, NJPW legend Rocky Romero spoke about the relationship between the companies then and now.
“Obviously like AEW talent coming to NJPW STRONG like we talked about earlier is important but also like vice-versa …NJPW talent going to an AEW is super cool and important, you know that is how the forbidden door started right? Because of, not going too deep into the backstory, but there was some friction there between AEW and NJPW when The Bucks and Kenny left [NJPW] to form AEW with Tony [Khan]and things were not easy at first.”
Romero went on to explain that Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and Jon Moxley were key to opening up a dialogue.
“But we are really working on the relationship and people like Kenny and Moxley and Jericho were really important in opening up that conversation again… so yeah of course I want to be a part of AEW they are doing great stuff and getting to work with TRENT again was awesome and I want to do more stuff with TRENT and Chuckie, Wheeler and of course, Orange Cassidy is the man.”
During the interview, Rocky Romero also discussed what wrestlers need to do to succeed in NJPW.
Rocky Romero will team with CHAOS stablemate Wheeler Yuta at the upcoming New Japan Strong Style Evolved 2022 on the 20th of March, live from the St. Petersburg Coliseum in Tampa, Florida.
If you use any quotes from this interview please provide a link back and h/t to Liam Alexander-Stewart of Inside The Ropes.