NJPW Reportedly Breaking Tradition To Accommodate Karl Anderson

It appears that NJPW expects Karl Anderson to return in the coming months. Anderson reportedly is not going to be stripped of his NEVER Openweight Championship despite not appearing at this weekend's NJPW Battle Autumn event, according to the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. WON's Dave Meltzer reported Friday that NJPW will break tradition by not stripping Anderson of the title for failing to appear at a scheduled event. 

Anderson, 42, returned to NJPW in 2021 and won the NEVER Openweight Championship in June of last year by defeating Tama Tonga. The American star was booked to appear in a title match this Saturday at NJPW's Battle Autumn event in Osaka, but the match has since been rebooked. Anderson was scheduled to take on Hikuleo for the NEVER Openweight Championship. However, earlier this week NJPW announced that "despite extensive efforts" to reach Anderson about the match, "NJPW officials have still been met with no response, and have been left with no other option but to cancel the planned NEVER Openweight Championship match."

The promotion then said that Hikuleo made a "direct request" to instead face Yujiro Takahashi in a non-title match at the event. Meltzer reported Friday that the match remains a non-title match and that the issue at hand with Anderson appears to be an angle, and that NJPW expects Anderson to return to Japan despite no-showing this weekend. The angle — which Meltzer notes to likely culminate at January's upcoming Wrestle Kingdom event — comes weeks after Anderson returned to the WWE for the first time since 2020.

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