Masked Japanese wrestler Jushin 'Thunder' Liger announced via a press conference on Friday that he would be officially retiring from professional wrestling at the New Japan Pro Wrestling event Wrestle Kingdom 14 at the Tokyo Dome in January 2020.
"I will retire next year in January at the Tokyo Dome," Liger said (in Japanese).
After training at the New Japan dojo, Luger made his debut in March 1984. Over the next 35 years he'd establish himself as one of the greatest junior heavyweights of all time, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 11 times (a record) and Junior Tag Team Championships six times. He'd also go on to hold championships in the WWF, WCW, NWA, Dragon Gate and CMLL while also appearing in other companies such as Stampede Wrestling and Ring of Honor.
Liger first appeared under the WWE in 1990 and the Wrestling Summit event, which was co-produced alongside New Japan and All Japan. He'd appear in the company once again in 2015 at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, beating Tyler Breeze in a singles match.
While his WWF stint lasted just one match in the 1990s, he made frequent appearances in WCW from 1991-92 and again from 1995-99. He initially feuded with Brian Pillman over the WCW World Light Heavyweight Championship in 1991, then made the distinction of being in the first-ever televised match against WCW Monday Nitro, where he lost against Pillman. He'd go on to feud with the likes of Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Juventud Guerrera, Konnan and Psicosis.
Liger's most recent match came at the NJPW 47th Anniversary Show on Wednesday, where he failed to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship for a 12th time in a bout against reigning champion Taiji Ishimori.
Numerous fans and wrestlers reacted to Liger's announcement. Most notably, reigning NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis teased giving Liger a shot at his title before he hangs up his boots.
"I wonder if Jushin Liger would like a shot at #tenpoundsofgold before he retires?" Aldis tweeted. The NWA seemed to be behind the idea as they retweeted Aldis' post.
Liger promised in his promo that he would continue to tour the globe one more time between now and his final match.
"What shall I do with the next ten months?" Liger said (via translation from New Japan's Chris Carlton). "I was Liger for thirty years, all over the world. So while I don't want to call this a retirement tour, I want to go all over Japan and the world and show myself to everyone one more time."
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