In case you missed it, the New Japan Pro-Wrestling event in Tokyo on August 12 saw one of the hottest angles the promotion has done in years. KENTA turning heel and joining the infamous Bullet Club was just shock number one of the evening, as his close friend Katsuyori Shibata literally brought fans to tears by sprinting to the ring and cleaning house.
For those who don’t follow the NJPW product, the short version of the story is that Shibata was forced to retire two years ago after delivering a headbutt to Kazuchika Okada during an IWGP Heavyweight title match that nearly killed him.
Despite being knocked out and in critical condition, Shibata finished the match with Okada after more than half an hour, and was rushed to the hospital. He suffered a subdural hematoma and required emergency surgery, and was given less than a 20% chance of living.
It was reported at the time that Shibata would never be cleared to wrestle again, but with him returning to the ring and actually getting physical, delivering his signature shotgun dropkick and taking bumps, it has led to speculation that he may have been cleared and would be building to a match against KENTA.
However, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter is maintaining that Shibata has not been cleared, and is still likely to never wrestle again. Almost no one knew about the segment beforehand, and those who shared the ring with him were told to stay away from his head. The Bullet Club stars and KENTA did deliver a beating to him after Shibata cleaned house, but they were notably gentle with some of the moves, and when KENTA delivered the PK to close it all out, he made sure to pull back and hit him square in the chest.