New Japan Pro Wrestling have announced their first release of 2023, with more firings expected over the course of the year. With a stale main event, changes need to be made in the company.
More wrestlers will be hired over 2023 which will mean more NJPW wrestlers get fired by the company this year. We have already seen a former champion and a main eventer released this year and it is likely more will follow as the year follows, both from the main roster, the Japanese dojo and the LA Dojo.
In this article, we’ll look at every wrestler who has been released by NJPW in 2023.
NJPW Wrestlers Released
The first NJPW wrestler released in 2023 was current WWE Superstar Karl Anderson.
Former NEVER Openweight Champion Karl Anderson was released by NJPW after his contract expired following WrestleKingdom 17. He lost the championship to Tama Tonga at the Tokyo Dome while signed to WWE at the time.
He signed for NJPW prior to re-joining WWE and was the NEVER Openweight Champion by the time he inked the deal with WWE. Triple H allowed him to continue his relationship with NJPW until January 4th, 2023 when his contract expired and he was released by the company.
Former IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi was released by NJPW upon the expiry of his contract. The Golden Star’s deal with the King of Sports expired on February 1st, 2023.
Kota Ibushi was released over a year after his last match in NJPW. His last match was in the 2021 G1 Climax Final, when he took on Kazuchika Okada in the final. Ibushi was the favourite to win the match but suffered an arm injury, forcing the match to be stopped by the referee and awarding Okada the victory.
He was almost fired earlier last year when he appeared to unveil New Japan’s secret involvement with the Yakuza. That seemingly blew over and he remained employed by the company until his contract expired on February 1st, 2023.
You can read the official announcement below:
“Kota Ibushi leaves New Japan Pro-Wrestling
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 apologize to Ibushi’s fans for the abrupt announcement and join them in wishing Ibushi the very best in all his future endeavors.”
Ibushi’s first match outside of NJPW is against “Speedball” Mike Bailey at “Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport 9”.
“Switchblade” Jay White
Former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Jay White has been released by NJPW after losing a “loser leaves New Japan” match. He fought fellow Bullet Club member Hikuelo at New Beginnings in Osaka, losing the match and banishing himself from the company.
Jay White is rumoured to be signing for WWE or AEW, with no decision yet made for Switchblade. The loss of two main eventers in Ibushi and White will do huge damage to the promotion, who will need to build up new main event star to compete with the likes of Okada and Naito.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.