Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson returned to WWE earlier this month, backing up AJ Styles as he was seriously outnumbered by The Judgment Day. That raised a lot of questions regarding the tag team’s current status with NJPW. Not only is Anderson the promotion’s Never Openweight Champion, but he is slated to defend that title at Battle Autumn on November 5.
The plot thickened considerably when WWE announced The OC and The Judgment Day will clash at Crown Jewel, a WWE event taking place on the same day as Battle Autumn. In case it wasn’t clear, Anderson confirmed that despite his NJPW booking, he will be competing for WWE on November 5 and will not be in Osaka to defend his title.
After an initial reaction to that news from NJPW’s president, the promotion has now revealed a full statement (thanks, Fightful). “NJPW has for the past several days attempted to negotiate with Anderson, but has not been met with a response,” the statement reads. “Should Anderson decide to renege on his scheduled championship match, he will be required to vacate the NEVER Openweight Championship and return the title belt to NJPW immediately.”
When Anderson confirmed he will be heading to Saudi Arabia on November 5 and not Japan, the Never Openweight Champion also claimed the title defense was booked without consulting him. NJPW denies that was the case, highlighting in the statement above that the match was booked on October 4, and that Anderson was complicit in that process.
What happens next remains unclear. What appeared to be an arrangement between WWE and NJPW when Gallows and Anderson first showed up on Raw now doesn’t seem to be an official deal at all. It now seems like Anderson won’t be at Battle Autumn, and that he will be stripped of the Never Openweight Title. As for returning the championship to the company, that might be a little tricky and could make the situation even more problematic.