New Japan Pro-Wrestling has announced Katsuyori Shibata will make a major announcement next week. It’s a promising sign for fans hoping to see him make a full return to pro wrestling.

New Japan noted that Shibata will be in attendance for the Best of the Super Jr./World Tag League finals at Ryōgoku Sumo Hall on Wednesday, December 15. They added that Shibata wants to deliver his announcement directly to the fans.

Katsuyori Shibata suffered a subdural hematoma during a match against Kazuchika Okada in 2017. The injury forced Shibata into retirement, but he’s been working toward a return.

Shibata took a major step forward in October, on the final night of G1 Climax 31. He surprised fans with an unannounced, 5-minute exhibition against Zack Sabre Jr. The two men traded holds until the time limit expired. Afterward, Shibata said the next time he steps inside a ring it will be for a proper match.

In June 2019, Katsuyori Shibata was involved in a physical angle on the final night of G1 Climax 29. He was laid out by KENTA and other members of Bullet Club. This was the same night that KENTA revealed he had joined Bullet Club.

“Obviously I understand the people that feel I shouldn’t push myself, but at the same time, nobody knows where my body is at better than me,” Shibata said in the first part of an interview published last week on New Japan’s websites. “I don’t want to cause the company, or any of the other wrestlers any trouble, or put anybody in a bad position. I know what I’m capable of, and I know best where I can take things.”

Shibata’s primary role in New Japan right now is working as the head trainer at New Japan’s revived dojo in Los Angeles. He said he hoped moving to the U.S. would help him avoid questions about his future, but he learned that American fans are curious too.

“They’d be saying ‘I’m looking forward to seeing you back in the ring someday!’ and I could deal with that pretty cheerfully ‘I’m doing the best I can, thanks for waiting!’” Shibata said. “Always a positive, easy exchange. Japan, things would be a little different, more nuanced. But either way, people were looking out for me, showing support and that’s a good thing, for sure.”

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