Retired NJPW Star Confirms Return To Action For Wrestle Kingdom 16

Katsuyori Shibata confirmed he will have a match at Wrestle Kingdom 16 on January 4. It will mark his formal return from a years-long retirement due to injury. Shibata's opponent was not revealed as part of the announcement.

Shibata made his intentions known in the ring during New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Best Of The Super Jr. & World Tag League finals on Wednesday. His announcement was characteristically brief.

"I will have a match on January 4," Shibata said. "That's it."

Katsuyori Shibata was forced into early retirement in 2017 after he suffered a subdural hematoma during a match against Kazuchika Okada. He has spent years working toward an in-ring return. A major step in that journey was a 5-minute exhibition against Zack Sabre Jr. on the final night of G1 Climax 31.

The bulk of the Wrestle Kingdom cards on January 4 and 5 have yet to be announced. But some other new matches took shape during Wednesday's show.

Hiromu Takahashi defeated YOH in the Best Of The Super Jr. final. The match briefly came to a near standstill when SHO attacked both men outside the ring. The BOSJ final was the longest in the history of the tournament. It clocked in at 38 minutes, 30 seconds.

As a result of his victory, Takahashi will challenge IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion El Desperado at Wrestle Kingdom 16. Takahashi and Desperado had a memorable clash in last year's BOSJ final. Takahashi won that match.

Hirooki Goto and YOSHI-HASHI defeated EVIL and Yujiro Takahashi to win this year's World Tag League. Goto and YOSHI-HASHI are now in line to challenge the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr. at Wrestle Kingdom 16.

Also during Wednesday's show, IWGP United States Champion KENTA accepted Hiroshi Tanahashi's challenge for a title match, under the stipulation that it be a "no disqualification" match. There was no date or venue announced for that match.