What’s Next For KENTA In AEW?


Source: AEW

The “Forbidden door” is cracking open (if not it’s already ajar), following KENTA’s shocking arrival on February 3rd’s ‘Beach Break’ themed AEW Dynamite. Some form of a partnership between NJPW and AEW looks closer than ever to be a reality. One of the best wrestling TV show cliffhangers I can remember has sent the wrestling world into a mass frenzy with wild speculation, rumours, and predictions for what lies ahead for both companies.

On a wider point, I just don’t know (no-one does, other than those involved) what will happen with the AEW-NJPW partnership, but I’m going to venture down multiple possible (and some confirmed) avenues which could be in KENTA’s future.


What we know so far.

Kenta at AEW
Source: AEW

First, what do we actually know? Well, the date and place for KENTA’s challenge to Jon Moxley’s IWGP United States Championship is set – February 26th on NJPW Strong. This promises to be a thrilling and dramatic match and with the title on the line, it is one not to be missed.

Also, KENTA bumped into reigning AEW World Champion Kenny Omega in the Daily’s Place car park, when Omega requested a Lights Out tag team match, with himself and KENTA taking on Jon Moxley and Lance Archer. Since confirmed, this match is slated for next week’s AEW Dynamite (February 10th). The match is an incredibly smart piece of business on AEW’s part, with KENTA, Moxley, Omega and Archer all very familiar to NJPW followers, the potential of New Japan fans tuning in to watch is really high.

Not only that, but this match could signal a more interconnected future for KENTA and AEW, as he isn’t going away, at least not immediately.


Is KENTA going to stick around in AEW?

Kenta wrestler

Now into the hypothetical. With KENTA’s appearance on AEW Dynamite, the accompaniment of speculation surrounding his contract situation has fired up. There is a complete lack of evidence to suggest KENTA has any sort of deal with AEW, instead he is just a NJPW wrestler appearing on AEW TV to hype his match with an AEW contracted wrestler.

KENTA showing up on Moxley’s home court is a killer way of building excitement for their title fight, but is it more than that? Just as Moxley himself, or Chris Jericho, appears in NJPW for big shows, could KENTA do the opposite and sparingly appear in AEW?

Patience is a virtue in this situation, with any further developments on KENTA’s longer-term future not expected promptly.


Possible Opponents

Jon Moxley
Source: AEW

This is merely fantasy booking on my part, with the potential of KENTA having matches inside of an AEW ring proving tantalising.

The obvious one would be a Jon Moxley rematch somewhere down the line (if he is to win the title from Mox – as I suspect). It would be a sure-fire money-spinner for both AEW and NJPW. The announcement of Moxley vs KENTA has got New Japan, and more casual wrestling fans, buzzing, so a reciprocal match in AEW would be greatly welcomed by all parties.

Kenny Omega is of course a key player in any possible NJPW-AEW crossover, with KENTA already interacting with him on-screen, a match between the two could be in store if the Bullet Club man stays in AEW.

Many a dream match is to be had if KENTA sticks around in AEW – PAC, Fenix and Eddie Kingston to name but a few. This means the opportunities truly are endless, as if a sporadic relationship is kept between KENTA and AEW, there are many great matches which could be made.


Where does KENTA fit in the AEW-NJPW partnership?

Hideo Itami
Source: WWE

I believe KENTA has a large part to play in the short-term future of the relationship, with his fierce rivalry with Jon Moxley an integral part of its early stages. It’s the stepping stone on which the partnership can flourish. I see KENTA being an important wrestler in future AEW-NJPW rivalries, with the already established ties and ones which can be formed on Dynamite in the coming weeks, serving as a bridge to future feuds involving the stars of both sides.

The ever-evolving relationship between Japan’s biggest promotion and the hottest company in America signals a new age for pro wrestling. Instead of the isolating, solely self-interest tactics of the WWE, through AEW, wrestling is progressing to be an industry which welcomes cooperation and alliance with numerous other promotions.

AEW and NJPW are on the precipice of doing what the Elite strived to do when forming their company alongside Tony Khan. Truly change the wrestling world. A global partnership between the two promotions will thrive in an age where wrestling fans are more connected than ever, able to see wrestling from all the parts of the globe.

Predictions are very hard to make in a time where seemingly anything can happen. The AEW-NJPW partnership, and the role of KENTA specifically, prove the future is tremendously exciting for pro wrestling. What will happen? We’ll have to wait and see.

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