Backstage Update On WWE Status Of Former NJPW Star Tama Tonga Ahead Of SmackDown

It's been four days since "the Raw after 'Mania" demanded the wrestling world's attention coming off the highly-touted spectacle of WrestleMania 40, but don't sleep on the "WWE SmackDown" after 'Mania, either. While Monday gave us the "Raw" debuts of both the "NXT" Champion and the "NXT" Women's Champion, return teases for the likes of Sheamus and Bo Dallas, and a wild John Cena appearance, Friday could gives us the debut of a brand new WWE star.


Pro Wrestling Insider's Elite section is reporting that Tama Tonga, adopted son of former WWE Tag Team Champion Haku and himself a former 7-time IWGP Tag Team Japan, has been seen in Detroit, Michigan, ahead of Friday night's "SmackDown" broadcast. PWI confirms that Tonga has signed with WWE and claims he is expected to start on WWE TV "imminently," possibly even on "SmackDown" in Detroit. It was reported in February that Tonga was WWE-bound following his departure from New Japan Pro-Wrestling after a 14-year run in that promotion.

WWE's reported interest in Tonga goes back at least to 2016, when he was made an offer and planned to jump ship to Vince McMahon's promotion alongside Bullet Club stablemates AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows; NJPW was able to retain him at the last minute by offering to hire his brother, now known as Tanga Loa (who was just coming off his own stint in WWE as Camacho) and put the two of them in a tag team together — the two ended up becoming a major force in NJPW's tag division as the Guerrillas of Destiny. There have been no reports of Tanga Loa rejoining WWE, but there have been pitches for Tonga to join The Bloodline, as members of that stable like The Rock and Roman Reigns consider him family.