It’s official. Former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and Time Splitter, KUSHIDA, is done with NJPW as of January 31st 2019.
The news comes following an official translation, via njpw1972.com, of New Japan’s post-Wrestle Kingdom 13 press conference. The conference was held at NJPW’s Corporate Headquarters and was hosted by NJPW Chairman, Mr. Naoki Sugabayashi.
“As mentioned previously by Mr. Sugabayashi, I will leave New Japan Pro-Wrestling at the end of January,” KUSHIDA confirmed. “Regarding this choice and decision, it was one made with the full co-operation and understanding of Mr. Kidani, Mr. Meij and Mr. Sugabayashi. It was a very big decision in my life and I’m thankful they understood. As for the future, I would like to see the wide world of professional wrestling with my own eyes, from one end of the earth to the other.”
KUSHIDA then reflected on his 8 years with NJPW, remembering how amazed he was at the “scale of the company” at the time before taking a moment to thank NJPW and their fans.
“This company has allowed me to become a professional wrestler and more than anything I feel that the warm reception and words from the fans has made me who I am today. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much.”
“It’s been a crazily fulfilling 8 years” – KUSHIDA announces his retirement from NJPW at the end of January. A question from Tanahashi leads to tears.
— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) January 7, 2019
After his official announcement, KUSIDA held a Q+A session for those in attendance.
When asked about what he wants to achieve overseas, he responded that he is looking forward to fulfilling his “childhood dream of “Becoming a Man of the World” — a dream he believes can only be achieved by fighting overseas.
“I won the “SUPER Jr.” [tournament] twice and won the [IWGP Jr. Heavyweight] championship several times,” KUSHIDA said. “That’s when I thought “Well, what will happen next?”
With rumors surrounding the Jr. Heavyweight regarding WWE interest, and his candid mentioning of fighting overseas, where do you think KUSHIDA will end up? WWE? ROH? AEW?
There’s a world of opportunity out there, but surely not enough time.