Shibata Returns During NJPW's G1 Climax As Tourney Winner Is Crowned

One of the most unlikely things happened during NJPW's G1 Climax 31 as Katsuyori Shibata made his return to the promotion as a wrestler. Last night during the G1 Final, we got a surprise match on the card as Shibata faced off against Zack Saber Jr. in a short five-minute exhibition match. The two weren't dressed in full ring gear, and interestingly enough, ZSJ came out to his old-school white UK attire, as the two put on a short clinic of mat wrestling that had the audience enthralled. For those of you unaware, this match is a little extra special because it's the first official wrestling match for Shibata in over four years, ever since he suffered what appeared to be a career-ending injury at the end of an amazing match with Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Championship in 2017. To see him return is an amazing sign, but it will be interesting to see what happens with his career moving forward since he still is running the L.A. Dojo (for now).

Shibata Returns During NJPW's G1 Climax As Tourney Winner Is Crowned
Credit: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Meanwhile, the other major story to come out of the G1 Climax is that we have a winner of their giant tournament, and it is Kazuchika Okada. It has been seven years since Okada last won the NJPW tournament, which gives him a shot at the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 16 in the Tokyo Dome this coming January. But the victory didn't come without its own kind of controversy as the match was essentially stopped after Okada's opponent, Kota Ibushi, injured his right arm after Okada rolled out of the way of a Phoenix Splash. The match ended with referee stoppage as NJPW's trainers and medical staff came out to help Ibushi. WHile they gave him some privacy from he crowd by surrounding him, it appears they were attempting to pop his arm back into the socket before he was taken away backstage.

Shibata Returns During NJPW's G1 Climax As Tourney Winner Is Crowned
Credit: New Japan Pro-Wrestling

So for now, it appears one of the main events for Wrestle Kingdom 16 will be Okada against current champion Shingo Takagi (although Tama Tonga showed up at the end of the night and issued a challenge to Okada for what will probably be a major match at Power Struggle on November 6th). But with Ibushi injured and what appeared to be an impromptu ending, we'll see Okada going to WK16 was really the plan all along, as there are still just over 10 weeks to go before it happens, and a lot can change in 10 weeks.

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About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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