Katsuyori Shibata will be present for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17, doesn't know how he'll be a part of things

Originally published at Katsuyori Shibata will be present for NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 17

Shibata confirms that he’ll be present for Wrestle Kingdom 17. 

After New Japan Pro-Wrestling wraps up their Super Junior and World Tag League tournaments, they’ll be on the road to Wrestle Kingdom 17 at the Tokyo Dome. 

NJPW’s biggest event of the calendar year is scheduled for January 4th. The show is going to be dedicated to the late Antonio Inoki, who NJPW planned to have present at Wrestle Kingdom 2023

NJPW1972.com published part two of their interview with Katsuyori Shibata and it was mentioned that Wrestle Kingdom will be a memorial event for Antonio Inoki and he was asked how he intends to be a part of things. Shibata does not know how he’ll be involved, but confirmed that he will be there. 

I don’t know how I will be a part of things, but for now I will say I will be at the Tokyo Dome January 4. I won’t let the words fighting spirit disappear from the wrestling world.

The term ‘strong style’ was brought up during the conversation and Shibata was asked what he thought about Inoki promoting it. Shibata wanted to stay away from it, but it became associated with him. 

He feels that NJPW is losing that ‘strong style’ or ‘fighting spirit’ and that himself, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura are the last of that. That’s why he feels it’s up to him to pass it along. 

I went through everything I did avoiding the words, but they became associated with me. But I kind of think that it’s something that NJPW as a whole is losing in a sense.

I think probably us three, me Nakamura and Tanahashi, we were the last. That’s why I feel it’s up to me to pass on that Strong Style, or that Fighting Spirit. I’m not criticizing NJPW in terms of the incredible things it does, or the high level that there is in that ring, but I don’t see that same ‘Tokon’, the same Fighting Spirit.

To me, really as it sounds [Shibata responded when asked what does ‘fighting spirit’ mean to him]. Right now, NJPW has a lot of complex things happening at this tremendously high level, but when I see people who don’t usually use a Cobra Twist go for it, and they’re not trapping the leg, I wince.

At Inoki’s funeral, one of the pictures at the altar was of him putting that hold on Tiger Jeet Singh. And man, that is the textbook, dictionary definition of that hold. The Japanese manji gatame name is because those bodies are in the exact shape of the manji symbol for a Buddhist temple. That picture used to be hung up in the Dojo, and I have these vivid memories of doing all those squats and pushups while looking at it. Everything in that photo expresses pain, exertion and this drive and spirit.

Shibata has wrestled twice this year. His first bout was at Wrestle Kingdom 16 against Ren Narita and his most recent was in November against Orange Cassidy on AEW Rampage