We already knew that 2019 would be an interesting year for professional wrestling but it’s shaping up to be bigger than expected.
As reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there are many wrestlers unhappy with the new regime in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Harold Meij and new General Manager Michael Craven are basically running the company and that hasn’t gone over well with the talent and the feeling is that a lot has changed over the last 30 days.
Craven is believed to be in charge of talent relations and international expansion and might be the most unpopular guy among the wrestlers right now. The feeling is that he basically talks down to wrestlers and made strange comments and it is known that he doesn’t have a background in wrestling. Craven has been living in Japan since 1998 and previously managed technology recruitment at Hays Japan, a company that handles IT recruitment.
Morale was very high during the G-1 but it’s said to be weird now because of the uncertainty about what will happen. There is also less confidence with the old administration.
Another person noted to Dave Meltzer that wrestlers are feeling like they are seen as workers in a factory line instead of being seen as high-level athletes and entertainers and the initial excitement about management changes has taken a hit.
This is the worst time for morale to go down especially with WWE looking to sign top names in 2019. It was also noted that there were people in the past who never considered going to WWE and they are now thinking about it. Some have been completely committed to New Japan Pro Wrestling over the years but they are now considering WWE as an option.