Two of the core members of the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster have suffered career-threatening injuries thus far in 2017, and at least one of them may never wrestle again.
The Wrestling Observer gave an update on the condition of Katsuyori Shibata and Tomoaki Honma, two popular wrestlers for NJPW who both were hurt just a few weeks apart this spring.
Honma sustained a vertebra injury after taking a hanging DDT at a March 3 NJPW event. Diagnosed with a cervical vertebrae injury, Honma has been rehabbing the injury ever since. The Observer reported that Honma is improving and had resumed light jogging, but struggled with hand coordination issues; for example, he needs help performing simple tasks such as pouring a cup of water or brushing his teeth.
The prognosis for Shibata, meanwhile, is much more dire.
On April 9, after headlining NJPW's Sakura Genesis pay-per-view, Shibata was rushed to the hospital after suffering a subdural hematoma when he delivered a gruesome-looking shoot headbutt to Kazuchika Okada during their battle for Okada's IWGP Heavyweight Title. Initially, there was speculation that Shibata's injury may have been an elaborate work, but in its latest update on the story, The Observer noted that Shibata "probably will never wrestle again" but that the company was interested in keeping him as a full-time coach. The Observer also noted that Shibata is "in good spirits." At the time of his injury, Shibata looked to be a prominent part of New Japan's plans in 2017, winning the annual New Japan Cup tournament to earn the title match against Okada.
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