Big Japan's Yuji Okabayashi Provides Update On Wrestling Future

For fifteen years, Big Japan Pro Wrestling's Yuji Okabayashi has been a top star in, arguably, Japan's most violent, hard-hitting promotion, dominating the BJW World Strong Heavyweight Title and BJW Tag Team Title scenes with partner Daisuke Seikimoto. But despite still being at the top of his game, Okabayashi might be ready to step away. At a press conference earlier today, Okabayashi and Big Japan President Eiji Tosaka announced that Okabayashi would be taking an indefinite hiatus from wrestling, starting at the end of July. Okabayashi's reasoning was captured by Japanese publication Tokyo Sports.

"When I debuted, I decided that I would wrestle until 40," Okabayashi said in a translated statement. "Now that I'm at that age, I'm thinking about the future. I wondered if I would be able to continue my current fighting style. Once I got out of the ring, I thought about whether I would be able to continue my current fighting style and whether I would be able to put on fights that would satisfy the audience." However, both Okayabashi and Tosaka stopped short of labeling the hiatus as a retirement, and Okabayashi didn't close the door on a potential return.

"I've talked about it with the president, talked about it with my family, and I'll think about it [retirement] during this rest period," Okabayashi said. In addition to Big Japan, Okabayashi has also worked for promotions such as DDT, Wrestle-1, and AJPW, where he and Seikimoto won the All Asia and World Tag Team Titles two and three times respectively. Okabayashi recently made waves with his fourth reign as BJW World Strong Heavyweight Champion, where he set a record for the longest reign in title history at 487 days, before dropping the title to Yuya Aoki on May 4.