It was quite clear when his GCW bookings were announced yesterday (January 31) that the reports about New Japan’s contract with Kota Ibushi were accurate. NJPW has been confirmed He’s a free agent today:
With his contract expiring on January 31, 2023, Kota Ibushi left New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Ibushi has been recovering from the injury since October 2021.
We apologize to Ibushi’s fans for this sudden announcement, and join them in wishing Ibushi the best of luck in all his future endeavors.
Eboshi chirp In response (translation via Google):
“There have been various struggles, but thanks to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, I have chosen the site of freedom to renew my contract. Thank you for your long and intense tenure. Thank you from now on, I hope you continue my way! I don’t know what will happen.”
These “various disputes” have come out publicly over issues related to Ibushi’s return from a shoulder injury he suffered with New Japan Wrestling in October 2021, and have grown to include professional and personal claims between the 40-year-old star and management. NJPW eventually apologized to Ibushi as he and two companies were penalized for the flutter. He never appears to them again, and will now return to his career when he faces Speedball Mike Bailey in the blood sports.
30/3/23 – Los Angeles
Watch live @employee! pic.twitter.com/a7aQh4QkYs
– GameChangerWrestling (GCWrestling_) February 1, 2023
Ibushi, who pretty much has it all and won every championship possible in NJPW, too I spoke to the Dark Emerald Fusion Twitter account (who has interviewed him several times in the past) about his decision:
“As far as money is concerned, I think it is largely unnecessary, but for me the things I care about and what are essential [for me] are more important. So I don’t want to be in a meaningless match. There aren’t many meaningless matches, but I think I’ll appear in places in the future that really and fully understand me.”
When asked specifically about joining his friend and Golden Lovers storytelling partner Kenny Omega in AEW, Ibushi basically said, “Maybe later”:
“A lot of my best friends are in AEW. My younger classmates in Japan are also growing up [there?]. However, I’m not thinking of going to AEW right away. I want to have a “school” in Japan. Once that’s done, I think I’ll talk to AEW.”