Kota Ibushi, one of New Japan Pro Wrestling's brightest stars, missed the New Beginning USA tour in January with Mallory-Weiss Syndrome, a condition marked by a tear in the mucous membrane, or inner lining, where the esophagus meets the stomach. Ibushi sat down with NJPW's website Wednesday to talk about what it was like having the disease.
Ibushi said he believed he developed Mallory-Weiss from having the flu beforehand.
"I just felt absolutely terrible one day, and threw up two or three times," Ibushi said. "What can happen is that there's this thin connective tissue between your stomach and your esophagus, and that can tear and get damaged. That's Mallory-Weiss. Apparently a lot of college students get it. If they're not used to alcohol and binge drink they throw up, and that sparks this issue. For me, it was probably the 'flu that sparked the vomiting."
Ibushi explained what the disease did to his body and how he knew he wouldn't be able to perform in his condition.
"I had this awful cough, and I felt a bunch of mucus in my throat," Ibushi continued. "I thought I could clear it and couldn't. Then I coughed really hard, about five or six times and all of a sudden there's all this clotted blood on my hands. And I had a fever over 40 degrees at the time. I thought, 'Man, that's it, I'm gonna die…' And my lower back was in so much pain. Enough where I was thinking 'I don't care if I die, as long as my back stops hurting.' Bear in mind, this was at 4 am on the day I was set to fly out to America.
"Even if I'd dragged myself onto that plane, I'd be nothing but a hindrance to everybody. I wouldn't be able to do anything, and if I felt terrible on the flight, I couldn't just ask to be dropped off."
Ibushi said, while the symptoms went away quickly, there are still lingering effects on his body.
"It took two or three days for the fever to come down, but the symptoms stayed with me for a whole week," Ibushi stated. "To be completely honest, I'm still a little sore in the stomach area, so I haven't been drinking at all; I'm not a big drinker anyway."
Another disease, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has caused NJPW to cancel upcoming shows through March 21st, including the beloved New Japan Cup tournament. Ibushi said he wasn't a fan of empty arena shows that some promotions are holding.
"There's a lot of different ways of thinking about it, but completely honestly, I'm not a fan of empty arenas," Ibushi said. "There's of course a lot of merit to watching video, and you can get a closer sense of the action in the ring perhaps. The thing is though, I'm not really about showing off what moves I can do. I want to be engaging a live crowd. In that sense, I really don't see the point of running events if there aren't going to be any people there."