The Wrestler speaks on the state of wrestling ahead of his return.
Katsuyori Shibata saw his career come to a quick and when he was forced into retirement and deemed enable to compete back in 2017. Now, as Wrestle Kingdom 16 draws near, Shibata is prepared to come back for the first time in five years.
While he was retired, he spent a lot of time training the LA Dojo and growing the next generation of New Japan Pro-Wrestling stars.
In a new interview with Sports Illustrated, Shibata reflected on how the industry has changed in recent years and says that modern wrestlers have moved away from the fundamentals that New Japan was founded upon and he looks to correct some of that in his return.
“I think a lot of today’s wrestlers are very focused on big, flashy moves, and modern wrestling has gotten away from the fundamentals. Those fundamentals and that base are what is most important to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and that is what I am constantly looking to further.”
Shibata is grateful for his opportunity to grow the LA dojo and says that had he not retired, that probably never would have come to be, looking at his retirement with a silver lining approach.
“If I had not been injured, the L.A. Dojo would not have come about,” said Shibata. “I was not able to have a match, but I was wrestling in spirit with all the L.A. Dojo boys. That kept me strong, and it will bring new opportunities for so many who love New Japan Pro-Wrestling. So a lot of good has come from this.”
During the Wrestle Kingdom 16 press conference, Shibata announced the rules for his January 4 bout. He will compete under catch wrestling rules. Learn more here.
You can view the current lineup for the first two nights of Wrestle Kingdom 16 by clicking here.
Fightful will have coverage of NJPW Wrestle Kingdom on January 4 and 5.