Hiroshi Tanahashi has been pulled from New Japan Pro Wrestling's World Tag League Tour after suffering a knee injury.
The extent of the current IWGP Intercontinental Champion's knock is not currently known but will be revealed following a medical assessment. Should his knee take longer than four weeks to recover, he's either going to have to work through the pain barrier, or his IWGP Intercontinental Title defence against 'Switchblade' Jay White will have to be postponed - an unthinkable prospect when you consider Tanahashi is to Wrestle Kingdom what Shawn Michaels was to WrestleMania.
NJPW released the following statement:
"Due to an injury suffered to his right knee, New Japan Pro Wrestling has come to the decision to remove Hiroshi Tanahashi from December 7’s Yamaguchi card. Further, Tanahashi will be out of action for the remainder of the World Tag League tour, which ends December 11 in Fukuoka.
"New Japan Pro Wrestling apologises to fans who were looking forward to seeing Tanahashi perform.”
The Once In A Century Talent wasn't scheduled to be a part of the Tag League tournament because his upcoming title match with White on January 4 inside the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 12. He was expected to be part of some multi-man matches though, which he has been removed from as he rests ahead of NJPW's yearly showpiece.
The match between Tanahashi and White has been billed as one of the main selling points of WK12, so having it called off would be a huge blow to the show. However, with the likes of Cody (Rhodes) vs. Kota Ibushi, IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega vs. Chris Jericho - Y2J's first match outside of WWE since 1999
- and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada vs. Tetsuya Naito, there's plenty of stellar bouts for New Japan to fall back on.
Wrestle Kingdom kicks-off at 5pm in Japan, making it an early morning start of 8am in the UK (3am EST) on New Japan World.