WWE director of talent relations John "Johnny Ace" Laurinatis visisted the NOAH office in Tokyo today. Ace conferred with NOAH president Mitsuharu Misawa & Ryu Nakada for an hour, the first reunion of Misawa & Ace in 5 years. The visit is thought to be for paving the way for NOAH & WWE to have a cooperative relationship in the future. It is unprecedented that a WWE executive would hold a meeting with executives from a single promotion, though it should be remembered that Ace & Misawa are colleagues from their AJPW days.
In the press conference held after the talks, Ace said that a cooperative relationship with NOAH was possible but there was no guarantee at this stage. Ace spoke very highly of NOAH's facilities, such as the recently consturcted gymnasium and dorm facilities, and suggested NOAH as a potential source of employment for those leaving WWE. Lastly, Ace referred to Misawa as an ally in developing WWE's Japanese market.
Mitsuharu Misawa & John Laurinatis
This could be a relationship that is beneficial for both promotions. WWE wants to be aggressive in the Japanese market and a relationship with Misawa and NOAH would provide a solid foundation in building business there. WWE also benefits from having a place where young stars could develop while working with the best (Misawa, Kobashi, Akiyama, Taue) and not being limited to doing a 4 minute match on Velocity (Paul London) or wandering aimlessly without credible opponents (Shelton Benjamin). NOAH benefits from a strengthening of it roster in both the heavyweight and junior heavyweight divisions.
(edited by NickBockwinkelFan on 5.2.05 1705) "Well, you can't involve friendship with business. It has to be one or the other. It's either business or friendship, or hit the bricks!" --Life Lessons from "The Tao of Bobby the Brain Heenan" Uncensored 2000 preview
"As long as the check don't bounce, I guess he's okay with it!" --Former All Pro Giants LB Harry Carson on Bill Parcells joining the hated rival Dallas Cowboys
The phrase "potential source of employment for those leaving WWE" stuck out to me. Makes me think more along the lines of "we'll send our retreads and releases over to you for some work" rather than sending the young guys there to get experience. God forbid Shelton went there and then came back incorporating a different style influenced by Japan. Hunter would immediately proclaim Shelton didn't know how to work. It's not like New Japan sending guys to CMLL for a year, or like they sent guys to Calgary in the old days. I just don't see current WWE having that kind of relationship with a foreign promotion. I wish they would because of the reasons you mentioned, but I can't seriously envision it.
I must admit that picture of Ace and Misawa reminds of a match I've got on tape from the All Japan glory days with Ace & Kobashi vs. Misawa & Kawada. I wish Ace still had that long blonde mullet.
German Tourist: Will you stop talking about the war! Basil Fawlty: You started it. German Tourist: We did not start it! Basil Fawlty: Yes you did, you invaded Poland.