Karl Anderson retains NEVER Openweight Title, says he'll see Tama Tonga at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17

Originally published at Karl Anderson retains NEVER Openweight Title, says he'll see Tama Tonga at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17

Anderson holds onto the NEVER Title. 

The singles match for the NEVER Openweight Championship between Karl Anderson and Hikuleo took place today at the World Tag/Super Junior Tag League finals. This match originally had to be postponed due to Anderson’s commitments with WWE since returning to the company in October. 

Anderson bested Hikuleo to continue his title reign. He looked into the camera after his win and stated the following:

I ain’t coming over here to drop no titles. You think I’m coming back to New Japan Pro-Wrestling to do a jiz-zob?

Shortly after, Tama Tonga came out to the ring and confronted Anderson. The NEVER Champion caught Tama with a ‘Gun Stun’ and told him he’ll see him again at Wrestle Kingdom 17 on January 4th. 

With that match being made official, here’s the updated Wrestle Kingdom 17 lineup: 

  • IWGP Women’s Championship: KAIRI (c) vs. Tam Nakano
  • NJPW World Television Championship Tournament Final: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ren Narita
  • IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Jay White (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada
  • IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship — Four Way: Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Master Wato vs. Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado
  • IWGP U.S. Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay (c) vs. Kenny Omega
  • IWGP Tag Team Championships: FTR (Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) (c) vs. TBD
  • NEVER Openweight Championship: Karl Anderson (c) vs. Tama Tonga

So NJPW has a working relationship with AEW and at least some sort of agreement with WWE. Karl Anderson just made Sasha/Mercedes way more intriguing.

I don’t think Karl Anderson’s appearance and Sasha has anything to do with each other.

Karl’s is probably a one-time deal to go and drop the belt. I really don’t see much point in it. NJPW should have just declared the title vacant and had a new matchup at WK.

The rumors on Sasha are all over the place. And none of them make any sense. Whatever she seems to have worked out with NJPW is not with any cooperation with WWE. And could lead to a lawsuit against both her and NJPW if she does appear.

We’re doing the lawsuit talk again? What is with the desire to have lawsuits in Wrestling?

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Sasha walked out. Details or any ensuing actions by either side be damned, that is an undisputed fact as far as I know. She’s not winning a lawsuit to get special privileges that are (presumably) outside of the contract she chose not to honor.

I mean on the otherside, WWE went on national TV and made a statement on that cound be considered slanderous / and I assume that could be considered libel?

I feel like legalities have already been dealt with though.

I doubt it, my guess is that WWE would argue that the statements on TV were made to tie up loose ends from a storyline standpoint. Especially Since it’s wrestling which I doubt the court system would take seriously….I equate it to an actor walking out and then characters on the show making a negative comment about the character the actor portrayed.

Entirely possible. That said, I truly believe the legal sides of this have been taken care of already. They aren’t likely leaving it until two weeks before her contract expires (and for somebody they would probably like to keep), to throw roadblocks in the way of her leaving.

Now is exactly when WWE would throw up roadblocks. They likely feel they have made every effort to come to terms on a new deal. If its not happening they can freeze her contract back to the date she walked out in May. Meaning she has 6 months on her deal and is under exclusive contract to WWE for pro-wrestling appearances until that contract is fulfilled.

By appearing on NJPW she is not only in breach of contract but NJPW can be sued for contract tampering.

It’s possible that not all contracts are the same, but how does “freezing” a contract work in WWE? Does the person have to be healthy and “unwilling” to work, or is there more to it than that?

I have a feeling we might be finding out for certain in a court of law how WWE “freezes” contracts if Sasha goes through with these NJPW appearances and isn’t just using them as bargaining chips for a new contract.

And if we don’t, maybe it tells us and the other performers in WWE that them “freezing” a contract has no legal merit and that there is nothing they should be able to do to unwillingly extend a performers contract.

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I’m not sure about that, which is why I asked if anybody knew/could find any more specifics on freezing.

To a judge who doesn’t care about wrestling BS, (this is all “as far as we know”) Sasha Banks is refusing to work, is still getting paid, and is intentionally riding out her contract to go work for a direct competitor, with whom she may already be negotiating. Based on that and that alone, that sounds like advantage WWE in court.

And also, a judge will also probably lead with “did you willingly and knowingly sign a contract that contains this clause?”

Not saying it’s fair or right (because WWE contracts aren’t “fair or right” in general), but it’s how I would see it going down in court. It’s not a Brock situation where it’s a ridiculously long and thorough non-compete for a guy no longer getting paid.

So litigious everyone. Better Call Saul for the best representation in Pro Wrestling today. What’s the last contract dispute to wind up in Court in Pro Wrestling? And wouldn’t they be subject to arbitration before court per most contracts regarding talent? Can’t think of too many instances where a talent in any sport or entertainment went to actual Court where discovery occurred. I’ll happily be wrong if somebody can point out the court cases that are precedent

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This is like standard in MOST industries where non competes and garden leave exist. Hell, we had 5 people sit idle for months before they could join us, got paid by their old employer, and then they wound up bringing their clients after “garden leave”. I don’t think Wrestling Fans appreciate how common it is for companies to pay people to stay home for the duration of a contract or non compete. I personally know somebody who had an entire mid life retirement waiting for this to occur because they rather have paid him for over a year than to just let the person go elsewhere with trade secrets so soon before they could pivot their business. Wrestling isn’t that unique actually.

But in Sasha’s case, the mitigating factor is that she refused to work. Now, I don’t know if refusing to work once is enough (though for all we know, they have asked her to come back since) but it’s not the same thing as a company just not using somebody.

Did she refuse to work this entire time, or refuse to perform on TV but would have done other stuff for the Company. I guess we have no evidence of anything behind the scenes so what is the fuss about litigation and court? Literally don’t know any of the pertinent details. But yeah, let’s call Saul!

So should we also stop talking about booking possibilities because we don’t know all of the facts? Or stop predicting the winners of matches because we don’t know all of the facts? Just to be safe, we should probably purge the roughly 3000 posts about CM Punk and The Elite because we don’t know all the facts. Let’s just close the board down.

Or… we could lighten up and discuss things pertinent to pro wrestling like the fans that we are.


Fantasy booking great! The stuff on the Elite and Punk was definitely a waste of a lot of oxygen in the room. I guess that stuff is fun for a window of time but afterwards hearing people speculate on lawsuits and such is just silly season. It’s actually funny watching some of the wild speculation play out on WrestTwit and forums.

I think the intrigue in Wrestling has definitely shifted to the Speculation and Rumor and Innuendo stuff which drives engagement and clicks. Have stated that before. Whatever is fun for folks, have at it. It just does range from funny to absurd in some instances. When people online start saying things about who will win lawsuits not even filed yet, I mean it’s the same as fantasy booking I guess.

Friends, friends! All of this baseless Sasha speculation is taking us further and further away from the real takeaway here: Hikuleo is still greener than BC Bud, and a theoretically ascendant Tama Tonga is now in the unenviable position of trying to drag a Tokyo Dome-worthy match out of 2023 Karl Anderson, who seems to care about workrate about as much as 1986 Chad 2 Badd.

IAS, as far as Sasha goes, I do feel as though over the past year or so we’ve been entering into a period where wrestlers have the opportunity to do shorter stints in various companies, allowing them to tell compact, manageable stories and keep themselves fresh before moving on and tilling the field, rebooting the hard drive, or whatever your metaphor of choice is. Rather than trying to read too much into the tea leaves regarding what any one cross-continental appearance does or doesn’t mean, I’m much more invigorated by the idea that individual wrestlers have more agency and control over their own careers now than they have at any time in more than two decades. Sasha moonlighting in Stardom because that’s where the most competitive women’s talent is, before deciding on a long-term WWE, AEW, or even Stardom contract is the sort of luxury premiere talents didn’t have a decade ago. Workers of the world unite, and all that good jazz…


So, that lawsuit, I wonder who sues who after agreeing to a negotiated release. REPORTS: Sasha Banks negotiated WWE exit months ago, can take wrestling bookings in new year

Maybe some legal scholars can fantasy book that one for us.

What phantom lawsuit is next? I think Tony Kahn owner of AEW should sue Tony Kahn owner of ROH for not securing a TV deal and wasting valuable TV time.

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