Jushin “Thunder” Liger, one of the most innovative, influential, and important junior heavyweights to have ever graced a wrestling ring, announced at a press conference Thursday that he will be retiring in January 2020.
Liger’s retirement ceremony will take place at the Tokyo Dome.
The 54-year-old Liger reiterated that he can still go as a wrestler, but added that he believes he has no more room for growth.
Hesitating to call the next ten months of his career a “retirement tour”, Liger stated that he wants to go all over Japan during this final stretch and show himself to everyone one more time. Liger also added that he has no particular desired opponents for this final year, but that he just wants to “enjoy wrestling.”
Liger made his debut in Korakuen Hall in March 1984 for New Japan Pro Wrestling, under his real name of Keiichi Yamada. He adopted the Liger persona in April 1989, and would see immense success in the years that followed.
Most notable are his 11 reigns as IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion between May 1989 and December 1999, and his three victories in the annual Best of the Super Juniors tournament (1992, 1994, 2001). Liger also bears the distinction of being the only wrestler to have been ranked in each of the annual PWI 500s since the list’s inception in 1991, a tribute to his staggering longevity.
(Credit goes to Chris Charlton for interpretations of the press conference)