Katsuyori Shibata Named Head Coach Of New Japan's LA Dojo

The man known as 'The Wrestler' was forced to retire last year.

Former New Japan Pro Wrestling favourite and former NEVER Openweight Champion Katsuyori Shibata has been announced as the head coach of NJPW's Los Angeles dojo.

In an official announcement via the New Japan website, Shibata stated:

'These days have been full of discovery, and as I teach them things, I am learning, too. Los Angeles’ weather is great, and it would be difficult to find an environment with better conditions. As I continue with my rehabilitation and training, I have a desire to pass down the fundamentals, the know-how and techniques and the philosophy that I have built up through my own experience in pro-wrestling to the younger generation here in Los Angeles.'

Shibata was forced to prematurely end his in-ring career following a match at Sakura Genesis in 2017. While wrestling Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Shibata performed a stiff headbutt which is said to have caused some paralysis on his right hand side.

He collapsed after the match and, despite making a quite astonishing recovery, is thought to likely never wrestle again.

In terms of experience, Shibata made his pro wrestling debut with New Japan in 1999. He infamously left the promotion during a low period, wrestling for other promotions and forging an MMA career - but returned in 2012.

The Sakura Genesis match was seen as the culmination of a redemption story for Shibata, who was rebuilding his reputation with the promotion and fans after abandoning them. It's unfortunate that it ultimately led to his retirement, but good to see that he has found a new role behind the scenes.

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Jack G. King

Written by Jack G. King

Head of News at Cultaholic.com | [email protected]