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Kota Ibushi comments on joining AEW now that he’s officially a free agent

It was pretty clear when his two GCW bookings were announced yesterday (Jan. 31) that reports about Kota Ibushi’s New Japan contract being up were accurate. NJPW confirmed he’s a free agent today:

With the conclusion of his contract period on January 31 2023, Kota Ibushi has departed New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Ibushi had been recovering from injury since October 2021.

We apologise to Ibushi’s fans for the abrupt announcement, and join them in wishing Ibushi the very best in all his future endeavours.

Ibushi tweeted in response (translation via Google):

“There were various conflicts, but thank you to New Japan Pro-Wrestling I chose the position of being free to renew my contract. Thank you for your long and condensed period. thank you From now on, I hope you will watch over my path! I don’t know what will happen”

Those “various conflicts” went public over issues surrounding Ibushi’s return from the shoulder injury he suffered wrestling for New Japan in October 2021, and grew to include professional & personal allegations between the 40 year old star and management. NJPW eventually apologized to Ibushi as he and two company were punished for the flap. He never appeared for them again, and will now restart his career when he faces Speedball Mike Bailey at Bloodsport.

Ibushi, who held pretty much every title and won every tournament you can in NJPW, also spoke to the Twitter account Dark Emerald Fusion (with whom he’s done several interviews in the past) about his decision:

“About money, I think it’s very much unnecessary, but for me the things I care about and what’s necessary [for me] are more important. So I don’t want to be in a match without meaning. There aren’t a lot of matches without meaning, but I think I’ll show up in places in the future that truly and fully understand me.”

Asked specifically about rejoining his friend and Golden Lovers storytelling partner Kenny Omega in AEW, Ibushi basically said, “probably later”:

”A lot of my best friends are in AEW. My younger peers in Japan are also growing up [there?]. Nonetheless, I don’t think of going to AEW immediately. I want to have a ‘school’ in Japan. Once that’s been worked out, I think I’lI talk with AEW.”

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