Top Japanese wrestling superstar Katsuyori Shibata recently spoke with the NJPW press about a potential in-ring return following his exhibition with Zack Sabre Jr. at the G1 Climax finals a few months ago. The former IWGP NEVER Openweight champion also provides an update on his head injury suffered back at Sakura Genesis 2017 during his classic with Kazuchika Okada, an injury that originally forced him to retire. Highlights are below.
Says his grappling exhibition against ZSJ at the G1 Climax finals was a big step forward:
“I’d suggested to the company what I wanted to do, and they made the connection to Zack, so it was a bit circuitous. But he’d been bringing my name up in his comments backstage, and at any rate, from when I first got hurt and started thinking about what I could do, I figured the best way would be to start with something that didn’t involve any strikes. Not just for me, but for the people watching as well. What you saw with the grappling rules thing, that was a step forward. A big step forward, like something went from zero to 1 in my mind, but a step forward. And it took me four and a half years to get to that point; not a two steps forward one step back thing, but the culmination of a ton of effort and inching forward to that point.”
Says his skull is completely healed up and hardened now:
“In the match you can see me doing a headstand as well. That was all part of the confidence I’d built; it’s been this long since I had surgery, and my skull is completely healed up and hardened now. (The match with Zack Sabre Jr) wasn’t the end point. There’s more to this. I’ve actually been sparring a fair bit with (Ren) Narita and (Yuya) Uemura over in the States. Being able to train like that is a big deal to me; if I couldn’t, it would disqualify me as a coach really. They say those that can, do, and those that can’t, teach, but it’s not true- the teacher has to be the strongest one in the room. (On if he has a plan) I do, in as much as I think if I don’t have something to work toward, I would be spinning my wheels. Obviously I understand the people that feel I shouldn’t push myself, but at the same time, nobody knows where my body is at better than me. I don’t want to cause the company, or any of the other wrestlers any trouble, or put anybody in a bad position. I know what I’m capable of, and I know best where I can take things.”