Following the retirement of Jushin Thunder Liger, another legendary Japanese wrestler will be hanging up his boots this year. In a press conference early this morning, Manabu Nakanishi stated he will be retiring next month. Although his contract expires at the end of January, NJPW will extend his contract in order to promote a special retirement ceremony on February 22 inside Korakuen Hall.
"I have decided to retire on February 22 this year," Nakanishi stated at the press conference, via NJPW. "As a result of a neck injury, I haven't been able to wrestle to the level I wanted, and rather than drag things out, I wanted to draw a line in the sand. Rather than think about how I could do x, y, z a long time ago, I want to put everything that I have into February 22. I want to head into this retirement having given everything I have and end things properly."
The 52-year-old Nakanishi debuted for NJPW in 1992. He won the Young Lions Cup in 1995 before going on an excursion in America with WCW that same year. Returning a year later, Nakanishi became a true powerhouse for the company. He won the G1 Climax in 1999 while also winning the NEVER Openweight Six-Man Tag Team Titles, the IWGP Tag Team Titles three times and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship once.
Nakanishi had one of his final bouts inside the Tokyo Dome a few days ago at Wrestle Kingdom 14. He teamed with Yuji Nagata on the pre-show in a losing effort against Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima.
"It had been a while since I'd been in the Tokyo Dome and I wanted to take the time," Nakanishi stated. "When I was young I didn't do any of that, making my way around, touching hands. But the last few years I started to like doing that, and I wanted to here. Maybe I might touch hands with some kid who'd be inspired to become a wrestler themselves some day. Before my 40s, I was quite curt with the fans, but lately I've enjoyed taking time with them."
He is hoping to talk to NJPW about an extended role following his retirement. When it came to who he would want to face in his final match, Nakanishi did not have an opponent in mind.
"I came here because I know that NJPW is the best, and that's always been the case," Nakanishi went on to say. "Whoever they put in front of me, it'll be the best match there is. That's what I want and that's what I'm focused on."