An update has emerged on the status of former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi, following his departure from NJPW.
Ibushi officially became a free agent at midnight on February 1 in Japan. Almost immediately after his NJPW contract expired (3:01pm ET on January 31 in the UK), Ibushi was announced for several GCW shows during WrestleMania week in March.
Per Fightful Select (subscription required), there has been major interest in Ibushi from a number of companies. Some reportedly want him for one off appearances, while others are trying to sign him to full-time deals.
It has been heavily speculated that Ibushi will ultimately sign with WWE. The former IWGP World Heavyweight titleholder recently named three WWE stars he wants to work with.
Some have also interpreted Ibushi’s response when asked about his Golden Lovers team with Kenny Omega to indicate that Ibushi is possibly considering a WWE move.
Ibushi has also teased an AEW run, naming former AEW World Champion Hangman Page as a dream opponent.
NJPW has now addressed Ibushi’s departure, writing:
With the conclusion of his contract period on January 31 2023, Kota Ibushi has departed New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Ibushi had been recovering from injury since October 2021.
We apologise to Ibushi’s fans for the abrupt announcement, and join them in wishing Ibushi the very best in all his future endeavours.
We will continue to provide updates on Kota Ibushi as they become available.
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