Katsuyori Shibata makes emotional return to the ring
A huge surprise return for NJPW fans!
After years of uncertainty, a huge moment took place at the G1 Climax finals today as Katsuyori Shibata made his long awaited return to the ring!
In an unannounced appearance, former New Japan Cup winner Shibata wrestled to a five minute draw, contested under UWF rules, against Britain's Zack Sabre Jr.
Shibata was Sabre Jr's first opponent in NJPW, so there is a wonderful poetry to Shibata taking him on in his first match since suffering a subdural hematoma way back in 2017 after an errant headbutt to then IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada, at Sakura Genesis.
The injury was severe and left Shibata with paralysis on his left side and required immediate emergency surgery. Despite this, Shibata was able to surprise fans at that years G1 Climax finals to show the world that he was on the mend.
Since then, he has been a trainer for NJPW's North American expansion dojo, and was part of reintroducing KENTA to a Japanese audience in 2019.
After the match with ZSJ, Shibata informed the fans in attendance that "Next time I get in this ring, it'll be in a match", indicating that he will indeed be returning to the ring sooner rather than later.
This is huge for Katsuyori Shibata and Japanese wrestling as a whole, and we at Real Rasslin offer our heartfelt congratulations to Shibata for coming back from such a serious injury.