Kota Ibushi Officially Gone from NJPW

The long-running dissolution of the relationship between Kota Ibushi and New Japan Pro-Wrestling is finally at an end. New Japan Pro-Wrestling has released a statement that addresses Ibushi's contract, revealing that as of January 31st Ibushi's contract with NJPW is officially concluded and that he has departed the company. NJPW also apologized to Ibushi's fans for the abrupt nature of the announcement and they wished him well in his future endeavors. You can find their official statement on Ibushi's departure below.

New Japan Pro-Wrestling wrote "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."

A report from Fightful Select revealed a few more details on Ibushi's departure, saying that those they have spoken to say there's major interest from several companies. Some are inquiries about signing full-time deals while others are for one-off appearances, and some contacts in those companies believe he wants to remain a freelancer.

Sources close to him say that he was very happy freelancing before his deal with NJPW, and his deal with NJPW was described as a "live and learn" situation, though Ibushi hasn't confirmed that. As mentioned in the NJPW statement, Ibushi has been injured since October of 2021, and according to the report from Fightful Select, the issues between the two parties weren't just due to being asked to wrestle with an injured shoulder.

They are also told that there was a "significant private matter' that Ibushi was dealing with, and NJPW wanted him to work through that, which didn't help their already fractured relationship. As for what's next, he has shows with GCW booked for the week of WrestleMania 39, and the rumored plan for him is to be included in the main event at Spring Break.

In a previous press conference with New Japan President Takami Ohbari and Bushiroad President Takaaki Kidani, the frayed situation with Ibushi was addressed, as well as steps taken after the initial fracture and how it was going to be handled afterwards (via Wrestling Inc).

"Kota Ibushi is a wrestler exclusively contracted to New Japan Pro-Wrestling," Ohbari said. "As such, it is understood that in order to devote full attention to NJPW matches and associated events, he is required to inform and receive express permission from NJPW before outside appearances. On March 4, in breach of the terms of his contract, Mr. Ibushi made an appearance seconding wrestlers at a Just Tap Out event. The aforementioned Official is responsible for contacting various wrestlers contracted to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, but also has a long personal history with Mr. Ibushi that extends far before him becoming an exclusively contracted talent. The Official contacted Mr. Ibushi in the belief that Mr. Ibushi's actions in breach of his contract were taken deliberately to persuade NJPW to terminate its agreement with him. Perceiving this as a betrayal of personal trust established over a number of years, his messages were sent in an emotional state as a result."

"Kota Ibushi is, and will remain a key member of the New Japan Pro-Wrestling roster," Kiddani said. "This kind of severe disagreement between company and talent should not happen again; in order to prevent any such instances in the future, and ensure the best possible working environment for talent, we will be actively engaged in discussion with Mr. Ibushi about improving company policy and implementing proper procedure.  We again would like to apologise to fans, wrestlers and personnel for the concern and the disruption caused in the middle of the Best of the Super Jr. tour."