As we draw closer to WWE’s much anticipated “Cruiserweight Classic” we here at Real Sport are taking a look at some of the competitors that WWE have handpicked from around the world.
Today the man in the spotlight is Kota Ibushi.
Where He Wrestles
Ibushi has spent most of his career with New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) where he has become one of the best high flyers in the world. Ibushi has a terrific record in NJPW’s long-running annual “Best of Super Juniors” tournament, first developing a rivalry with former-NXT champion Finn Balor (known as Prince Devitt), losing to him in his debut in the tournament in the semi-final in 2009 and then in the final in 2010. Ibushi finally won the tournament in 2011.
He has also wrestled in NJPW’s biggest show of the year Wrestle Kingdom several times. He was unsuccessful in his bids to beat Balor for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in 2011 and 2013 before finally beating him in 2014. At Wrestle Kingdom 9 he had a terrific match against Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
In 2016 Ibushi ended his relationship with NJPW and became a freelance wrestler. He has made an appearance in EVOLVE but his independent career looks to be over before it began with his new relationship with WWE.
Ibushi is your quintessential Junior Heavyweight/Cruiserweight. A high-flyer who isn’t afraid to go diving around the ring. His array of aerial maneuvers are incredible and have to be seen to be believed. That’s not to say he is a liability with his feet on the ground. Ibushi is great striker, like most Japanese wrestlers he has spent time in martial arts and competitive combat so he knows what he’s doing.
Ibushi recently missed time for a herniated cervical disc, so how that will affect his in-ring style we don’t know yet, but Ibushi in full flight is a sight to see.
As a big name in the world of wrestling Ibushi goes into the tournament as a firm favourite. Rumours are that he has already signed a permanent contract with WWE, and for the main roster rather than just NXT. If that is true then I don’t see any path for him but winning.