Kota Ibushi Reveals Why He Left WWE After The Cruiserweight Classic

Hamish Woodward

Kota Ibushi revealed why he didn’t sign with the WWE, following his incredible performance in the 2016 Cruiserweight Classic.

The Japanese star was the biggest named signed for the tournament back in 2016. He had wrestled in huge matches at Wrestle Kingdom, with his bout against Shinsuke Nakamura being one of the best matches of all time.

He was joined by indie stars like Zack Sabre Jr and Brian Kendrick, but fellow NJPW star Will Ospreay turned down the chance to wrestle in the tournament.

Kota Ibushi performed well in the tournament. He made it to the semi finals of the Cruiserweight Classic, and wrestled a handful of matches in NXT during this time as well.

The expectation was that he would win the Cruiserweight Championship, sign a contract with the WWE and become the face of 205 Live.

This never happened, however. Kota Ibushi himself has explained why he did not sign for WWE during this period.

Why Didn’t Kota Ibushi Sign For WWE?

In a 2016 interview, Kota Ibushi revealed how he turned down multiple WWE contracts, not wanting to be tied down to an exclusive deal with the company.

He noted that the deal was for “a significant amount of money” to sign the 5-year deal, but rejected it to not close the door on his work for Japanese wrestling companies.

‘(WWE offered) a five year contract. I turned it down, they offered three, then two. I was against an exclusive contract from the word go. I’m happy going date by date.

If they invite me (to the NXT Osaka show), of course I’ll do it.’
‘It was a significant amount of money they offered. But I want to keep working for Japanese wrestling.

I want to be a big deal of course, and if Japanese wrestling enjoys a boom in the process, I couldn’t ask for anything more.’

‘I’ve wrestled fewer matches this year, but my body has benefitted. I’m in the shape of my career now. Nothing hurts, everything’s great. This is the best I’ve felt in 12 years as a wrestler. I’m on the verge of something big.’

‘I want to do more. In December I’m doing DDT, a charity event and a festival in Makuhari. I want to do WWE on the 3rd as well.”I can’t completely nail down my style going forward, but I think the American independent style is my base, a sports like style.

Someone like Zack Sabre Junior as a foundation, with uniquely Ibushi twists’. ‘It’s hard for me to say exactly how much I’ve grown, but I’ve handled all this Wwe stuff by myself, and I can listen and understand a lot more English. I’m expecting 2017 to be very special’

Kota Ibushi moved back to NJPW after the Cruiserweight Classic, becoming one of the top stars in the company.

He won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship upon his return, being the first man to hold the newly renamed belt.

He left the company in late 2022, wrestling his first match in years, due to an injury in his last NJPW match.

Kota Ibushi is likely to sign for AEW in the near future, reuniting with his Golden Lovers teammate Kenny Omega.

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