New Japan Pro Wrestling has given us some good talent over the years. Some, like Yoshi Tatsu, never had the chance to stand out as he should have. Many fans believe that if he came in at the same time others are now, he would be treated better. Others, such as Finn Balor, have benefited greatly from the move, and AJ Styles has already been thrown into some interesting WWE material right away.
Other people, like Shinsuke Nakamura, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson, are set to make their WWE debuts soon. This could be interesting for WWE, as they all could have good roles with WWE for the next few years. Now, another New Japan star could be making his way into WWE in the near future. Kota Ibushi announced that he will be leaving NJPW as well as DDT.
This past November, he sustained a cervical disc herniation. This was a major injury that led to Ibushi not having a return timetable. We finally found out that he would be returning to the ring with DDT on March 21. However, he will be going freelance after his contract ends.
Ibushi is one of the most talented wrestlers in the world. In New Japan, he won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on three occasions, the same as WWE NXT Champion Finn Balor. He also held the IWGP Junior Tag Team Titles with Kenny Omega at one point. Along with this, he has held various DDT titles from the IMGP World Championship to Independent World Junior Heavyweight Championship. He has also held the Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship on three occasions.
Truly, there are few workers in Japan who are as young as 33-year-old Ibushi and have done as much as he has in two different major Japanese promotions. While he did say he would go freelance, that does not rule out a potential future in America under a contract of some kind. On top of this, a potential WWE appearance is in no way off the table, and we very well could see him come to WWE NXT if nothing else.
Tokyo Sports reported that new WWE NXT talent Shinsuke Nakamura has recommended Ibushi for WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Tournament that will begin this summer. Ibushi will be out of every contract and freelance by this time. So he easily could be part of the series. Nakamura also told Ibushi to “get in touch” if he ever wanted to “broaden his horizons.” This has led many to believe Nakamura was referencing a potential WWE run for Ibushi.
If WWE plays their cards right with Nakamura, he very well could be the key to getting a lot of Japanese talent into the company. He has a lot of connections with NJPW, so people like The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega may broker a deal with WWE through Nakamura, as well as Japanese wrestlers. Nakamura jumping was the key to many people.
When it comes to Ibushi, his run in WWE could simply be as part of the Cruiserweight Tournament, which would be perfectly fine. He has been working a great deal for so long, and he felt he would need some time to himself after working for two different promotions at a high level for so long. If he came to WWE, this would certainly make the most sense.
It also would not be shocking if WWE has already contacted Kota Ibushi about taking part in the series. They may also want to have him sign with them, but that could be a tougher sell at this point. WWE certainly could use another big name to tour with this year, but Ibushi may not want to sign because of the fact that he needs a low schedule for a while. As of now, there is still a good chance we see Ibushi in WWE this year.
[Image via New Japan Pro Wrestling]