KUSHIDA is back in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but the former NXT star isn’t expected to be exclusive to the kingpin of Japanese wrestling.
Yesterday’s New Japan Road event from Tokyo’s Korakuen Hall saw the surprise return of KUSHIDA to New Japan Pro Wrestling. ‘The Time Splitter’ resurfaced in the promotion to confront Taiji Ishimori, who had retained the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship over Hiromu Takahashi in the closing match.
The former NXT Cruiserweight Champion reportedly won’t be solely exclusive to New Japan, however. Dave Meltzer commented on the status of KUSHIDA on the latest Wrestling Observer Radio, confirming that he’ll be available for independent bookings moving forward, as well as the possibility of him appearing for All Elite Wrestling:
“Because he lives in Los Angeles, he’ll work most of the United States New Japan shows. He would also be available for independent work in the United States now. Perhaps AEW as well.”
The 39-year-old was announced as a WWE signee in the days prior to WrestleMania 35 in 2019, having wrestled his NJPW farewell match on 29 January vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. He made his in-ring WWE debut on an NXT episode aired that May, defeating Kassius Ohno.
KUSHIDA hasn’t made a non-WWE or NJPW appearance since he wrestled Tomohiro Ishii during Over The Top Wrestling’s Fourth Anniversary Show in October 2018. He has, however, made appearances for Ring Of Honor, EVOLVE, and Insane Championship Wrestling, though these were all done in association with WWE and NJPW.
He’ll make his return to an NJPW ring on 3 July, teaming with Hiroshi Tanahashi and Alex Zayne to face Bullet Club’s KENTA, Gedo, and Taiji Ishimori.