Report: Update On Kota Ibushi's Issues With NJPW
What's going on with Kota Ibushi and NJPW?
Seemingly out of nowhere on Tuesday, former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi took to Twitter to voice his issues with New Japan Pro-Wrestling management, posting screenshots of a conversation with 'Kikuchi', who works in NJPW talent relations.
Within the screenshots, it could be seen that Kikuchi threatened to fire Ibushi, something which the 39-year-old said he would accept for many reasons, notably that he felt NJPW tried to rush him to come back from injury in time for Wrestle Kingdom 16. Ibushi has been out of action since he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the G1 Climax 31 final in October.
While some wondered if Ibushi's issues were real or for a storyline, it has since emerged that The Golden Star has legitimate issues with NJPW management, with Bryan Alvarez reporting on Wrestling Observer Live that Ibushi is "sick" of NJPW trying to rush him back from injuries.
"This is from Ibushi's side...Ibushi has gotten a lot of injuries, in fact, he's been out of action with injuries. If you watch New Japan Pro-Wrestling, there's a lot of guys that are walking wounded. Remember how beat up Naito was for so long and Tanahashi looks like he can barely move with his knees? But in Japan, there's always been that deal where unless you're really hurt, you work," Alvarez began.
"Well, apparently Ibushi, he's done with it...He has been asked to work when he does not feel like he's ready to work and it's happened many times where they've tried to get him to come back and he's got one injury or another and apparently he just snapped. I don't want to say he snapped but he's had enough. He's sick of it and he's come out publicly with this."
Furthermore, a report from Voices Of Wrestling noted Ibushi has had issues with Kikuchi stretching back to 2018 when the former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion felt Kikuchi - who at the time was running NJPW's merchandise - was 'shorting' him on money from merch sales.
Kikuchi left New Japan in 2019 but returned in 2020 to work with Dick Togo on talent relations. Since then, the issues between Kikuchi and Ibushi have only grown due to the talent relations man enforcing policies, such as maintaining kayfabe and keeping romantic relationships private, inconsistently.
Kikuchi's handling of Ibushi's injuries have further exacerbated their issues, with Kikuchi deciding that The Golden Star could not wrestle in the main event of Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome in July 2021 after Ibushi fell ill with aspiration pneumonia. Ibushi ultimately wanted to wrestle despite not being medically cleared.
Then, after Ibushi dislocated his shoulder in the G1, Kikuchi told Ibushi in what The Golden Star considered to be a 'disrespectful tone' that he needed to be ready for Wrestle Kingdom 16. Ibushi didn't wish to wrestle until his shoulder was fully healed and The Golden Star felt ready to return to action for the New Japan Cup in March, with the 39-year-old actually being announced for the tournament.
Ibushi was then suddenly pulled from the cup, though, and Kikuchi was said to be the person behind that after a doctor mentioned a minor concern about the NJPW star's shoulder. Ibushi was reportedly booked to win the cup had he been in it and his removal left The Golden Star 'infuriated.'
Kikuchi does have allies within NJPW in KENTA, Taiji Ishimori, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, TAKA Michinoku, and Taichi, according to Voices Of Wrestling, and Ibushi and Taichi have longstanding heat. Ibushi has actually referred to Kikuchi, Michinoku, and Taichi as 'the cheaters gang' due to issues with money and alleged infidelity.