Katsuyori Shibata will be taking some time away from ROH.
Katsuyori Shibata dropped the ROH Pure Championship to Wheeler Yuta on the November 25 episode of AEW. The title change came after Yuta confronted Shibata on the November 25 episode of AEW. The loss to Yuta will set up Shibata to take some time away. Per AEW officials, Shibata has to return to Japan for an extended period as soon as possible, and he could not wait until ROH Final Battle to leave.
Shibata was said to be high on the idea of Yuta stealing the title and teasing that he was going to try to injure Shibata's brain before HOOK saved him to create some drama but not put him out for good. The idea was that the attack would do just enough that ROH would be forced to give Shibata an extended No Contact period before he can return to action as a precaution.
Sources said that Shibata's absence was something ROH hoped he could put off until after ROH Final Battle, but it was confirmed earlier in the week that it was not possible for him to stay that long. As a result, ROH and Shibata worked out the plan this week, and Shibata was said to love the idea. Shibata has said he is happy in AEW and has liked teaming with HOOK and Orange Cassidy. It is not known when Shibata will return to ROH.
Shibata was previously forced to retire after he suffered a subdural hematoma in 2017. After he returned to the ring, he made his AEW debut at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2022. Shibata beat Wheeler Yuta to win the ROH Pure Championship at ROH Supercard of Honor 2023. He also competed at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door 2023, and he has wrestled on AEW Dynamite and ROH TV.
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