Karl Anderson is officially off NJPW's Battle Autumn in Osaka show set for Saturday, November 5.
NJPW has announced that Anderson, the company's NEVER Openweight Champion, will not take part in Saturday's event as previously advertised. Anderson had been scheduled to defend the NEVER title against Hikuleo.
NJPW wrote in a statement:
Despite extensive efforts by New Japan Pro-Wrestling to negotiate with Karl Anderson regarding his scheduled match in Osaka at Battle Autumn on November 5, NJPW officials have still been met with no response, and have been left with no other option but to cancel the planned NEVER Openweight Championship match.
We apologise to fans who had been looking forward to watching Anderson wrestle.
After a challenge from Yujiro Takahashi, and at the direct request of Hikuleo, Osaka will now see a non-title special singles match between Yujiro Takahashi and Hikuleo.
NJPW holds its champions to the highest standard of professionalism. We deeply apologise for the inconvenience and disappointment caused by this matter.
Anderson returned to WWE alongside tag partner Luke Gallows on the October 10 Raw episode, aligning with OC ally AJ Styles. Styles, Gallows, and Anderson vs. Finn Balor, Damian Priest, and Dominik Mysterio has since been announced for WWE Crown Jewel, also set for Saturday, November 5.
After his WWE debut, some NJPW talent, notably IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White tweeted about the WWE debut, indicating some sort of heads-up had been given to NJPW by Anderson, Gallows, and WWE.
In the ensuing weeks, a storyline evolved on social media, with Anderson, Gallows, and NJPW officials issuing statements, with Gallows and Anderson stating that Anderson had been double booked for the date and that NJPW had not run the November 5 date past Gallows, with NJPW officials stating that champions are expected to appear as advertised.
This appears to be some sort of elaborate work, as Anderson has not been stripped of the NEVER title, and will likely appear in NJPW to drop the Championship at Wrestle Kingdom on January 4.
Hikuleo is now set to take on Bullet Club's Yujiro Takahashi in a non-title match at Battle Autumn in Osaka.