Last night, we learned that Jon Moxley will not appear at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s G1 Climax event in Dallas. The official statement from New Japan is as follows:
Jon Moxley has been confirmed as a participant of G1 CLIMAX 29. Unfortunately, Moxley will miss the G1 CLIMAX 29 Opening Day taking place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX on July 6, 2019. Additionally, he will not be in attendance at the G1 CLIMAX 29 Press Conference taking place on July 5, 2019. Moxley will join the G1 tour on July 13 in Tokyo. We appreciate your understanding.
While we didn’t have word last night as to why Moxley was off the show it didn’t take a detective to realize it probably had something to do with Moxley’s All Elite Wrestling (AEW) deal.
On this morning’s Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer confirmed that indeed Moxley was taken off of the G1 Climax show in Dallas due to his AEW contract. The long and the short of it: AEW has exclusive rights to Moxley in the United States. But we kinda knew this already, right?
Tony Khan confirms here that Jon Moxley is essentially US exclusive to AEW, which is why he's unable to work the NJPW G1 show in Dallas: https://t.co/RiMCgyznTF
— Super J-Cast (@thesuperjcast) June 18, 2019
NJPW got out ahead of any potential fan disappointment by announcing that Moxley—who was never advertised to appear at the G1 Climax show in Dallas—would not be at the show.
So, who is at fault? Who did who wrong? Which side should you take?
What if I surprise you with this: there is no side to take. Both parties did what was in their best interest.
NJPW never advertised Moxley despite fans assuming that with him as a participant in NJPW’s annual summer tournament, he’d no doubt be appearing on the show. I bought into it too, feeling that one of the huge reasons to bring Moxley into the fold was to sell tickets to NJPW’s United States show. But I’ll admit it, I was wrong.
Still, NJPW made an announcement that they didn’t have to, an announcement they had no obligation to make. Companies very rarely announce an unadvertised wrestler will not be appearing at a show. That’s what they did here. It’s commendable because NJPW justifiably could have sold additional tickets to the G1 Climax in Dallas show from naive fans convinced that Moxley would appear on the show.
On the AEW end of the spectrum, I’ve seen plenty of disappointment from fans on their approach here and I’m not sure I fully understand the stance. AEW, from the moment it came into being, has made it clear where they currently stand and what they hope to achieve in the pro wrestling industry. Led by owner Tony Khan AEW has been aggressive in talent acquisition scooping up talent from all across the world including some with existing deals in place. Most notably Trent Beretta, who had a handshake agreement to sign a new deal with NJPW, instead left for the presumably greener pastures of AEW.
I think some people are conflating prior talk and discussion from Cody, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega to AEW’s stance on pro wrestling. VOW editor Alex Wendland stated it best when we were discussing this offline, “AEW is not Cody, Kenny, Matt, and Nick putting a show together to unite the community. AEW is the commodity that rose from its success.”
To expect AEW to uphold the virtues and values espoused by their lead wrestlers and Executive Vice Presidents in the past isn’t entirely fair. AEW has been transparent from day one. AEW is a competitive pro wrestling company that’s aiming to make a splash in the industry by becoming a major player in the niche. Expecting or wanting them to be more than that isn’t entirely fair.
Likewise, the AEW/NJPW relationship is tenuous… at best. Not only did the Beretta move ruffle feathers in the NJPW office but in one fell swoop, AEW plucked Omega, The Young Bucks and Cody from their ranks. While some felt NJPW appearances by Chris Jericho and Moxley was evidence of a strengthened relationship and cooled tensions, we know now that is simply not the case.
Last month, NJPW general manager Michael Graven clarified that NJPW does not have a relationship with AEW:
“New Japan and Jon Moxley came to terms on an agreement some time ago, completely independently of All Elite. Our understanding is that he is free to wrestle in Japan. We wish AEW well, but have no working relationship as of now.”
The statement by Craven also indicates that Moxley is “free to wrestle in Japan.” Maybe we should’ve read that statement more carefully? Craven makes no mention of American bookings or Moxley appearing at the G1 Climax show in Dallas and is specific about the freedom to wrestle “in Japan.”
So let’s recap.
What we have here is a company (AEW) that signed a talent (Moxley) to a United States exclusive deal but is allowing him to take bookings outside of the company. Moxley who had previously signed a deal with another company (NJPW) has made and will continue to make appearances on their Japanese shows but will not work in America due to the deal he signed with AEW. NJPW—to help alleviate any potential backlash—announces that Moxley—who was never advertised to appear on a show—will, in fact, not appear on a show.
Who is the bad guy here? What am I missing?