NJPW Star Confirms Talks With WWE

Back in January, rumors of former NJPW STRONG Openweight Champion Hikuleo heading to WWE added a certain amount of subtextual intrigue to his "Loser Leaves Japan" match against the now-AEW signed "Switchblade" Jay White.

In a new update from "Fightful Select," Hikuleo confirmed that he was in talks with WWE in January, and revealed the talks were played very close to the chest. The current NJPW STRONG Openweight Tag Team Champion eventually opted to stay with the Japanese promotion and said that NJPW is where he is supposed to be.

"We talked about it for a while. It just wasn't the right time yet, I'm not sure there will ever be a right time, and just a lot of factors at that time didn't play out how we thought it would," Hikuleo said. The second-generation star believes that the loyalty that he and New Japan as a company have for each other shouldn't be taken lightly.

Hikuleo was successful against Jay White in January, who was first driven from Japan by that loss, and then from New Japan in total after a loss to Eddie Kingston in February. Despite interest in Hikuleo, there was a reported hiring freeze taking place in WWE in the wake of the merger with UFC, forming TKO Group Holdings under the new parent company Endeavor. White had also received interest from WWE, but he signed with AEW and is currently set to face AEW World Champion MJF at AEW Full Gear on November 19.

Hikuleo is the son of wrestling legend Haku, and his brothers, Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa, are also wrestlers alongside him at NJPW. Apart from wrestling on the independent scene, he has made a few appearances on AEW programming, twice on "Dynamite" — making his AEW debut in an IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship match against Lance Archer – and once on the now-defunct "AEW Dark."