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New Japan Pro Wrestling

NJPW: Katsuyori Shibata Says He’s Not Done Yet

Photo: Youtube

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.

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.

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