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Katsuyori Shibata claims he is not retired, vows a return to the ring

At New Japan Pro Wrestling’s press conference for Strong Style Evolved yesterday (Mar. 24), an interview session with last year’s New Japan Cup winner and current NJPW LA Dojo head coach Katsuyori Shibata turned to the obvious question of how he’s settling into life as a coach after wrestling, and you didn’t even have to wait for the translator to begin to hear it loud and clear and in English—

“I’m not retired. I’m a wrestler.”

Of course, the full translated answer had a bit more nuance.

”At the moment I’m still active as a pro wrestler, I’m not retired yet. I am recovering from my injury, and while I was recovering from injury I found out there was going to be an LA Dojo and I think the best idea is coming over to LA and sweat together with the young, upcoming athletes and recover myself, and then going back to the ring.”

Asked for a timetable on this potential return, Shibata had this to say--

”Actually I still don’t know, but because I don’t know when I can recover and go back to the ring, I’m just focused on concentrating on what I can do at the moment... ...Because I don’t want to stop and I’m actually unstoppable, so I— when I’m staying in Japan, that’s such a small country. I hear a lot of things about myself and rumors and when we hear all those of negativity I became so depressed and I didn’t want to stay like that. So I decided to come over to LA and once I came here, like I said, the climate was so good, skies are blue, and I think the best facility ever we have in LA, that makes me very comfortable and I’m feeling very great right now.”

Again, in the middle of his response, simple English rung out and got the point across quite nicely in its own right.

”I can not stop.”

The majority of the other questions related to his position in the dojo and how he’s finding LA, but there was one more on a potential return, asking if he has injury-related limitations in his training.

”Yes, I still have a number of limitations, but there’s a lot more things I can do right now since I came to LA, so I can keep recovering and keep training.”

In a world where we’ve just seen Daniel Bryan not only cleared for a return, but given a completely clean bill of health after we thought we’d never see him wrestle again, a return to the New Japan ring for Shibata seems shockingly plausible. Granted, the subdural hematoma he suffered at Sakura Genesis last year isn’t directly comparable to the concussion that temporarily ended Bryan’s career, but clearly, anything is possible when it comes to pro wrestling and retirements here in 2018. (Well, maybe as long as you don’t have a case of stupid neck, at least.)

Watch the full Q&A session right here, if you will.

There you have it, folks

Much like the American Dragon before him, the Wrestler refuses to give up on a return to the ring. Assuming he can get a clear bill of health, I’m certainly excited— what say you, Cagesiders?

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