On the final night of New Japan’s G1 Climax 29, KENTA joined Bullet Club, turning his back on Katsuyori Shibata and the LA Dojo which had trained him for his NJPW debut in the tournament this year. Shibata himself came out to confront KENTA and his new stablemates but was beaten down for his efforts.
The physicality involved in the segment left many wondering if Shibata had been cleared to return to the ring. Unfortunately, it appears the segment was not meant to build toward his return. Shibata’s status was addressed recently by the Wrestling Observer.
“Regarding last night, Katsuyori Shibata has not been cleared to wrestle,” wrote Dave Meltzer. “We don’t have more info and very very few people knew about the angle last night before it happened.”
“Shibata has always wanted to return but doctors have said in the past that there is no way he’d be cleared,” he continued.
“It’s a one-off thing, it’s an angle, I don’t think there’s really much else new to it,” Meltzer continued on Wrestling Observer Radio. “There’s no indication he’s doing anything for a match.”
Katsuyori Shibata Injury
Shibata was taken to hospital with bleeding on the brain following an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Kazuchika Okada.The match took place at Sakura Genesis on April 9th, 2017. The technical term for his injury is a subdural hematoma and is similar to what led to the death of MMA Fighter/Boxer Tim Hague just 2 months later.
Since being forced to retire, Shibata has been training recruits at New Japan’s LA Dojo.