New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Katsuyori Shibata is gearing up for his new role as the Head Trainer for NJPW dojo, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t having aspirations of returning to the ring.
During a fan expo at the dojo to hype up the March 24 Strong Style Evolved event, Shibata was participating in a meet and greet event. During the event, the former NEVER Openweight champion was asked about his health and whether or not he was retired from in-ring action.
Shibata replied by saying he is not retired but rather is focusing on training wrestlers. Although he is committing to his role as a trainer, Shibata indicated that he does plan to wrestle again. Below is a Tweet from SoCal Uncensored.
— SoCal UNCENSORED (@socaluncensored) March 24, 2018
Shibata has been out of the ring for almost a year. He sustained an injury during his main event match with IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada at NJPW’s Sakura Genesis last April. He was taken to the hospital after the match and was diagnosed with subdural hematoma.
Prior to the injury, Shibata was a on roll, having just won the 2017 New Japan Cup to earn the title shot against Okada. He had spent much of his singles run chasing the NEVER Openweight title, as well as wrestling in Europe and the United States.
Shibata underwent successful surgery, followed by months of rehabilitation. He made an appearance during the G1 Climax Tournament where he said he “was alive.” Many pundits believe Shibata will never be cleared to wrestle again.
This new training endeavor for Shibata will provide him a chance to heal his body as well as pass on his knowledge and experience to aspiring wrestlers. Many fans would love to see him make a successful return. But fans also understand that he needs time and rehabilitation for his body to heal.
That being said, there is hope for Shibata’s return. Former WWE Champion Daniel Bryan was recently cleared by WWE to return to the ring and even participated in a physical confrontation with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on Smackdown. There’s speculation that he will wrestle a match at Wrestlemania, most likely tagging with Shane McMahon to face Zayn and Owens.
Bryan’s clearance came almost two years after he announced his in-ring retirement from WWE. There’s speculation that he would have wrestled outside of WWE when his contract expired and would be cleared by medical experts – and now WWE will have him examined after every match. The point is, Bryan’s body has seemingly healed from some of the damage and wear and tear of the ring. There is the same hope for Shibata and other wrestlers who have sustained a serious injury – or multiple injuries – and are out of action.
Speaking of injury – or potential injury – Wrestle Inc. reported an injury scare at last night’s WWE event in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.
Apollo hurt his right knee during a tag team match with himself and Titus O’Neil facing Raw Tag Team Champions Cesaro and Sheamus.
Mercedes Mone Set to Star in New Film
Mercedes Mone (aka Sasha Banks0 has been casted in a brand new role, as she will be staring in the upcoming action-thriller film “The Collective” which has already wrapped, according to Deadline.
According to the reported rundown: “In the recently-wrapped film from director Tom DeNucci, a group of righteous assassins called The Collective take aim at a highly sophisticated human trafficking ring backed by a network of untouchable billionaires. With their backs against the wall, The Collective has no choice but to put their most important mission in the hands of rookie assassin, Sam Alexander (Till). What he lacks in experience he makes up for in savvy, grit, and a keen ability to improvise in the most dangerous situations. He is aided on his journey by Hugo (Gibson) and Liam (Johnson), former CIA operatives turned rogue vigilantes. They face off against Daisy (Rose), the cunning general manager of this evil, clandestine organization. Sam must prove to himself, Liam and Hugo that he’s Collective material on this life-or-death, take-no-prisoners mission.”
Mone will play Nikita.
Jay White Expected to Depart NJPW
New Japan Pro Wrestling is set to lose another big star as “Switchblade” Jay White’s contract is set to officially expire soon and he is not expected to re-sign with the company, according to Fightful Select.
According to the report: “Switchblade Jay White’s contract is up relatively soon and is expected to leave New Japan Pro Wrestling, per those in the company. Those that we’ve spoken to believe both WWE and All Elite Wrestling are interested in getting the former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, however, WWE sources seemed confident they would land him,”
With AEW already working with White and featuring him on television, it would appear that they have the edge in securing his services. The same could be said for Impact Wrestling, but they likely would be outbid financially and don’t offer the same kind of visibility as either AEW of WWE.
WWE is looking to stock up NXT again with premier talent, and has already brought in a bunch of big names back to WWE, but would NXT appeal to White in the same way that a run on WWE’s main roster would?
Financially, WWE could have the edge, and perhaps provide White with much bigger exposure.
Will Ospreay Has Been Contacted by WWE
New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar and current IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion Will Ospreay has confirmed that he has been contacted by WWE and revealed that it is something that he is considering.
Ospreay also mentioned some of the WWE names he would be interested in facing if he were to find himself in WWE.
“I’ve been approached by them, so I have a lot to think about” he said, according to Tokyo Sports. “I’ve mentioned Seth Rollins‘ name many times… Also, considering my history, it would be a dream to fight Ricochet again. I think that because I think we have become completely different wrestlers than when we fought in the past.”
Ospreay has competed for AEW, Progress Wrestling, Rev Pro, and Ring of Honor throughout his career, among others.
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