Desperado Reportedly Not Currently Under A NJPW Contract

You may have noticed that New Japan Pro-Wrestling star El Desperado has been wrestling outside of the promotion and its international affiliates of late. In particular, he spent the first weekend of June working death matches for GCW in Atlantic City, New Jersey, including against Joey Janela, and last Friday, upon entering Canada for AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door, he worked a Mystery Wrestling show against Evil Uno. While NJPW talents taking indie dates is nothing new, Desperado stood out in part because he's a pushed NJPW star doing death matches for a U.S. indie, and that's far from the norm.

The newest issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter helps explain why El Desperado may have some additional freedom. Desperado reportedly did not sign a new contract with NJPW this year, so he's working there as a freelancer, as is longtime stablemate Minoru Suzuki, who has had such an arrangement for years. This kind of arrangement is far more common in Japanese wrestling than it is in the West, with plenty of precedents. Perhaps most famously, in the mid-2000s, the likes of Yoshihiro Takayama and Kensuke Sasaki were freelancers while being two of the biggest wrestling stars in Japan, even at times when they devoted most of their attention to a single promotion.

Desperado is set to be a key part of next week's NJPW Strong Independence Day shows at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. On Tuesday, July 4, he headlines a "no disqualification" match where he will team with death match legend Jun Kasai against Jon Moxley and Homicide. Desperado is also main eventing the next night in a one-on-one match with Moxley billed as a "Final Death" match. The latter is a rematch of their death match from NJPW Music City Mayhem last July 30 in Nashville, Tennessee.