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Report: NJPW's Katsuyori Shibata Not Cleared For In-Ring Return

No full-time return?

While Katsuyori Shibata had not competed inside the squared circle since 2017, The Wrestler faced Zack Sabre Jr. on October 21 at the G1 Climax 31 Final in an unannounced five-minute UWF Rules Exhibition Match. 

The former NEVER Openweight Champion then proclaimed to the crowd following the short match that the next time he would be in the ring is in a professional wrestling match. 

This prompted speculation that Shibata could return to the ring at Wrestle Kingdom 15, possibly in a rematch with ZSJ. 

In an update, Dave Meltzer reported in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that at this point, Shibata has not been medically cleared to return to the ring. So, as of now, The Wrestler will have to continue working towards a return. 

After an 18-year career inside the squared circle, Shibata was forced to retire in 2017 after suffering a subdural hematoma following his match with Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis. 

The former IWGP Tag Team Champion underwent emergency surgery following the match and it was reported that Shibata would likely never wrestle again. He then signed with NJPW as the head coach of the LA Dojo and he has held that role ever since. 

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

Journalist/Editor-in-Chief of Cultaholic.com Twitter: @theaidangibbons