On April seventh, at Sakura Genesis, Katsuyori Shibata went face to face with current IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Kazuchika Okada.
what was billed as a huge main event.
During the ending, Shibata hit Okada with a stiff headbutt, Following the match, Shibata collapsed backstage and was rushed to a hospital, where it was discovered that he had a subdural hematoma,which required emergency surgery. The injury, caused by a stiff headbutt combined with dehydration, caused Shibata to also experience some paralysis on his right side.
On April thirteenth, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Shibata would never be cleared to wrestle again. With that being said, is this truly the end of Shibata?
The man is currently thirty seven and has wrestled all around the world, from his hometown of Japan, to the UK and America.
Winning titles almost everywhere he’s been, he had a run in NJPW from nineteen ninety-nine to two-thousand and four, before leaving to Pro Wrestling Noah from two-thousand five to two-thousand twelve while competiting in the world of MMA.
After Shibata’s seven year leave, he returned to NJPW and over the years competed in tag teams where he even won the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships with Hirooki Goto. before breaking out as a singles competitor which saw him fight against some of the best in NJPW, In 2015, he would win the NEVER Openweight Championship three times before losing it to his former tag team partner, Goto.
Shibata entered this years New Japan Cup and won it after defeating Bad Luck Fale, in the finals to win himself a IWGP Heavyweight Championship match, against Okada at Sakura Genesis, on April seventh but was unsuccessful and suffered a career threatening injury.
A career built on hard strikes and literal breath taking submissions,
Shibata’s style is crafted in perfection for himself, if Shibata’s career is over, which most likely it is, he has without a doubt left his mark not only in Japan but the sport of Professional Wrestling.
Photo Credit: Cagesideseats.com