WWE's Karl Anderson Drops NJPW Title At Wrestle Kingdom 17

Karl Anderson is NEVER Openweight Champion no more.

Karl Anderson Tama Tonga

The complicated situation of Karl Anderson's NEVER Openweight Championship reign has finally been resolved.

The WWE star dropped his belt to NJPW's Tama Tonga at Wrestle Kingdom 17 today, following a clunky exchange that finished on a Gun Stun. Anderson fell in the third defence of his 206-day reign, having previously fended off unsuccessful challenges from Hikuleo and Hiroshi Tanahashi in 2022.

Anderson dropping the NEVER Openweight Championship is notable as it wraps an unprecedented situation that saw Karl hold a mainline NJPW title while contracted to WWE. He and long-time tag team partner Luke Gallows returned to WWE in October 2022, doing so while Anderson was still NEVER Openweight Champion, sparking speculation on what would happen with the belt. This was amplified by an apparent scheduling conflict between WWE and NJPW, with Anderson booked for matches in Japan and Saudi Arabia on the same day.


But while people inevitably speculated on potential heat between Anderson and the New Japan office, this was soon revealed to be a work. It is understood that Anderson informed WWE of all remaining NJPW dates upon re-signing with the market leaders - including Crown Jewel 2022.

Whether or not Anderson (and Gallows) will fulfil further NJPW dates now that Anderson is no longer a champion is currently unclear.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.