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New Japan confirms Ibushi injury; Okada requests a different prize for G1 win

The result of yesterday’s G1 Climax 31 Final might have gone the way many expected, but it got there in a way no one wanted to see.

Kota Ibushi went for a Phoenix Splash on Kazuchika Okada, but Okada evaded. Ibushi landed awkwardly on his left shoulder, and was obviously in pain. After checking on him, referee Red Shoes Unno called for the bell, and the medical team.

On NJPWWorld’s English language commentary for the show, Kevin Kelly speculated that Ibushi may have suffered a separated shoulder. Today (Oct. 22), New Japan NJPW Naoki Sugabayashi confirmed the nature of the injury, but didn’t have much else in the way of new detail.

“... in the G1 final last night in the Nippon Budokan, Kota Ibushi incurred a dislocated right shoulder during the match, and was treated by the ring doctor and training personnel. Further updates to Ibushi’s condition and a timetable for return will be announced after Ibushi has received more thorough appraisal.”

Later in the press conference, Okada spoke about winning his third G1. Mostly he was concerned with facing Ibushi as soon as The Golden Star is healthy enough to run back the Final to a proper finish. Toward that end, NJPW’s current Ace asked the Chairman if he could have something other than the title shot contract typically awarded along with the G1 trophy:

“Well, I won the G1, and I want to face Ibushi again, but I feel there should be something concrete to represent that. I’m not a champion, and I don’t have anything to put up. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship that Ibushi retired though… I’m not saying that people should call me the ‘X-ieth Heavyweight Champion’ or anything, but I want to hold that belt, until Ibushi gets back.

“Usually (the G1 winner) gets a contract and defends that. But maybe I can — in fact, since the chairman is here today, I’m asking — to have the fourth IWGP Heavyweight belt in place of a contract. Is that OK, chairman?

“There’s usually a briefcase with a contract inside. But after the way things ended yesterday, I want to face Ibushi again. And since Ibushi retired that title, I want it as proof of my promise to him. To have a title belt instead of a contract.“

Sugabayashi said he’d take it under advisement. The Rainmaker said if he’s given the traditional contract, he’ll still defend it as normal. But, “I want to fire up New Japan in my own way. Not as the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, but as the G1 Champion.”

While there are obviously a lot of questions about how this will play out and affect a now three-night Wrestle Kingdom event next January, this certainly could be a way for NJPW to do away with the unpopular IWGP World Heavyweight title that was introduced this past spring when Ibushi unified the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight championships.

We’ll keep you posted.

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