WWE is unlike any other pro wrestling company on the planet. That’s because WWE does not consider itself a pro wrestling company. Vince McMahon wanted to make movies with his Superstars and he does that each week on TV.

But he also has his hands in mainstream media, which was evidently the goal from the very beginning. WWE is so firmly rooted in pop culture that even if the company closed its doors today, the popular references and colorful cast of characters would likely never die.

So why would such an immensely powerful company that’s at the top of the industry feel the need to openly troll other pro wrestling promotions? Fans know the cold war that’s been brewing over the past several months between WWE and other companies, especially New Japan.

They see it, they hear it and they discuss it seemingly everyday. WWE continues to drop what appears to be subtle hints on TV but for attentive fans, there’s just nothing subtle about it. One such hint has been Corey Graves’ use of the word “tranquilo” when describing SmackDown Live Superstar Andrade “Cien” Almas.

Wach Almas use the Tranquilo move in WWE:

Tranquilo Posing in Tokyo

Almas began his career in Mexico and was a founder of Los Ingobernables in 2014. The faction has since produced another chapter in New Japan, led by Tetsuya Naito. Graves obviously knows his pro wrestling history and the link between Almas to New Japan is undeniable.

But even though Almas uses the tranquilo move between the ropes, he does not use the word itself on the mic.  Andrade is his own man and is in line with WWE, embracing his current character and making it work. He would have no need to use the word unless the company gave him the green light to do so, though he does pay respect to the Los Ingobernables faction in his own way. So why even use the word on TV at all?

Then there’s The Bullet Club drama. In 2017, Pro Wrestling Tees reported that WWE sent a Cease and Desist letter to The Young Bucks over the “Too Sweet” hand gesture. Longtime WWE fans know this gesture dates back to the days of The Kliq, the group of main event talents that worked for Vince McMahon.

Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman used the Too Sweet like a secret handshake both behind the scenes and on camera. Hall and Nash made it part of The nWo’s salute when they jumped from WWE to WCW and the gesture has been reborn, thanks to The Bullet Club.

Watch The Bullet Club Too Sweet in New Japan:

The Bullet Club in good spirits at their 5th anniversary (Young Bucks Too Sweet!)

The Bullet Club began using the Too Sweet, or Turkish Wolf, in 2006. They did it as an homage to not only The nWo but The Kilq as well. Even The Kliq itself seemed more than happy to loan their trademark to the next generation of guys. But when WWE actually tried to trademark it, many fans cried foul.

How petty was WWE’s move to prevent grown men from using a simple hand gesture? It was a silly moment that reminded everyone of just how ridiculous things can get in the world of professional wrestling. But when former Bullet Club members came to WWE, the fire was stoked once more.

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows became The Club. Finn Balor refers to his fans as The Balor Club. AJ Styles uses the Too Sweet and the same is true of the other three men. With all of the creative minds in WWE, what reason does the company have to appropriate ideas from another promotion?

Perhaps all of that is done for the fans’ sake. Balor and Styles are obviously aware that much of the WWE audience watches New Japan and Ring of Honor. Why not use those references as a nod to the audience who respect New Japan and The Bullet Club?

Maybe that is the thrust of the conversation. Maybe WWE’s trolling of New Japan is meant to stir interest for Vince McMahon’s company at the expense of another company. But the wrestlers themselves may or may not have an issue with relaying goodwill to each other, especially on social media. Fans have seen such exchanges recently, most notably between Roman Reigns and Tama Tonga. But this particular exchange was anything but civil.

Tonga posted a profanity-laced interview on Twitter and Roman Reigns commented, saying Tonga took his promo from a Drake album. Tama responded by calling Roman a “snitch,” and essentially challenged The Big Dog to a match in New Japan.

Roman answered and thanked Tonga “for the laughs,” and Tama responded with a jab at Reigns’ Superman Punch finisher. The exchange has seemingly ended between the two, at least for now. However many fans are likely wondering why it all happened in the first place.

It’s not the first time that stars from both companies have acknowledged each other on Twitter and it likely will not be the last. But one of the most recent Twitter crossovers happened due to yet another apparent shot from WWE’s side.

WWE’s Twitter account promoted season eight of Total Bellas with the words “ALL IN.” The words were capitalized and stood out to every pro wrestling fan that read them. All In is of course the upcoming September 1 event created by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks. Matt Jackson of the Bucks and Nikki Bella had a polite exchange over the Twitter post and then it was over.


But is any of this really over? More importantly, is it getting over with the fans? The entire situation is similar to the competitive rivalry between Marvel Comics and DC Comics. The only difference is that New Japan apparently didn’t realize it was competing with WWE. Vince McMahon’s company is the one that keeps firing while fans try to dodge the shrapnel.

Is all of this leading somewhere? Could the day come when WWE and New Japan actually cross-promote a major wrestling event? Or is all of this simply just white noise in the grand scheme of things? The truth is that whatever happens, this “war” is beyond entertaining. Maybe that’s the point.

Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com


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