NJPW has released a statement on NEVER Openweight Champion Karl Anderson and his advertised title defense against Hikuleo on Saturday, November 5 at the Battle Autumn event in Osaka, Japan.
As we’ve noted, NJPW has Hikuleo vs. Anderson is advertised, but Anderson will be in Saudi Arabia that weekend to work WWE Crown Jewel. Anderson and Luke Gallows recently issued a video where they said they would not be coming to Osaka that weekend because NJPW didn’t arrange the booking through Gallows before announcing it. NJPW’s Rocky Romero responded to the video and told Anderson to return the title to NJPW.
In an update, NJPW noted that the match was made through appropriate channels, and that Anderson expressed approval to the booking. NJPW said they have attempted to negotiate with Anderson, but he has not responded. It was also said that Anderson, if he chooses to renege on the scheduled title defense, must vacate the title and return it to NJPW immediately.
“NJPW has for the past several days attempted to negotiate with Anderson, but has not been met with a response. 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,” NJPW wrote in the statement on their official website.
The Hikuleo vs. Anderson match was first announced back on October 4, six days before Anderson and Gallows reunited with AJ Styles on WWE RAW. The following week, WWE announced The O.C. vs. The Judgment Day for WWE Crown Jewel.
Anderson and Gallows had verbally committed to NJPW dates in the lead-up to signing new WWE contracts, but it’s unlikely that they will return to NJPW now, unless a title defense for Anderson is worked out. There had been hope that they would still work the Wrestle Kingdom event in January.