With AEWxNJPW: Forbidden Door only a few days away, there’s been a renewed focus on AEW’s aspirations, not just in the United States, but globally. As such, AEW President Tony Khan has talked about running AEW shows outside of the U.S., recently bringing up Canada as a potential destination.
But what about Japan, the home country of both New Japan Pro Wrestling and AEW’s other promotional partners, DDT and Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling?
“I think Japan is the most valuable market in the world for AEW,” Khan said in a recent interview with the Japanese publication Tokyo Sports. “There are so many Japanese fans, smart and passionate. AEW will be able to build a good fan base.”
AEW of course has roots in Japan thanks to talent like Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, Lance Archer, and others, all of whom were stars in New Japan before AEW was formed in 2019. As such, it’s no wonder Khan would like to strengthen AEW’s growth in the market with numerous ideas.
“I haven’t held a tournament in another country yet, but I would like to try to deliver AEW to the world,” Khan said. “Of course, I want to hold a tournament in Japan, and if I do, I would like to invite a lot of Japanese wrestlers. Japan is definitely included in the list of countries where we want to have an AEW tournament.”
While AEW has never done a full tournament outside of the United States, Khan’s statement that AEW has never done a tournament in another country isn’t entirely accurate. In February and March of 2021, AEW held one part of their AEW Women’s Eliminator tournament in Japan. In addition to featuring AEW talents Emi Sakura and Yuka Sakazaki, the tournament also included Japanese stars such as Ryo Mizunami, Maki Itoh, Mei Suruga, VENY, Aja Kong, and Rin Kadokura. Mizunami ultimately won the whole thing, earning a title shot against then-AEW Women’s World Champion, Hikaru Shida, at AEW Revolution that same year.
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