Per this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reports that WWE holds an interest in securing the signature of NJPW Junior Heavyweight star KUSHIDA.
To get the obvious, cynical take out of the way, WWE it seems holds an interest in securing the signature of anybody in kickpads as 2018 draws to a close - but Meltzer reports that this rumour differs because "unlike other New Japan guys who they are after, this is one where the confidence level is at the point where it’s being talked about more prominently."
Meltzer continues: "At least one idea has been talked about which would involve him at NXT."
KUSHIDA is an incredible performer who fuses deadly submission skills with jaw-dropping aerials - and it is this multi-faceted brilliance that has led him to star in the Junior Heavyweight division for the best part of this decade. He is the current Junior Champion in the midst of his sixth reign.
This seems key to his future.
To editorialise, and to make clear that we are not taking Meltzer's words out of context, KUSHIDA has done everything there is to do in New Japan. A consistently spectacular performer - you'll rarely see a fight look as gorgeous and as realistic as his 2017 Best of the Super Juniors Final win over Will Ospreay - KUSHIDA nonetheless drew mild derision when programmed with the cooler, fresher Hiromu Takahashi that same year. There's a sense that, while the respect the man has commanded is bulletproof, his popularity peaked a couple of years back. In that sense, this is one development we wouldn't exactly mourn - and, following the example of Shinsuke Nakamura, there is now precedent for a very rare jump from a puro promotion.
The core sense of loyalty in the east usually inhibits such a move, but to his immense credit, there is no way a tenured performer like KUSHIDA should feel any guilt whatsoever.