Katsuyori Shibata suffered the kind of brain injury that some people don’t bounce back from, and this is no laughing matter. He took a long time off from the ring, but he still wants to compete. The problem is that NJPW won’t let him do his thing anymore, but AEW will.
AEW has booked Katsuyori Shibata a few times, despite growing concern about his physical ability. He doesn’t wrestle an incredibly dangerous style, but there is still a bit of worry, especially from the NJPW side of things. This is why he isn’t allowed to wrestle in New Japan.
During Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer noted that AEW will let Shibata wrestle when NJPW has “washed their hands” of him at this point.
I don’t know what the medical situation is, obviously New Japan, who’s pretty much washed their hands of him, he’s not even with them anymore. He’s in AEW and AEW is letting him do whatever he wants to do. I know New Japan doctors were very concerned about him, because he wants to be a wrestler, and that’s why he’s not working there.
On April 9, 2017, during Sakura Genesis, Shibata faced Okada in a hard-fought IWGP Heavyweight Championship match but was ultimately defeated. However, the aftermath of the match took a devastating turn. Shibata collapsed backstage and was immediately taken to the hospital. Doctors discovered that he had a subdural hematoma, a serious condition that necessitated emergency surgery.
The severity of Shibata’s injury was compared to that of mixed martial artist Tim Hague, who tragically lost his life a couple of months later due to a similar condition. Shibata’s situation was grave, and it highlighted the inherent risks and dangers that professional wrestlers face in the ring.
AEW is going to give him a place to wrestle, no matter what, so we will have to see if that pans out for everyone involved. Hopefully, Shibata can have a nice run in AEW without any physical setbacks.
What’s your take on Tony Khan letting Shibata wrestle? Sound off in the comments to let us know what you think!