Plans may already be in motion for Kushida’s return to New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
According to a new report on Voices of Wrestling’s Patreon page, it was well known within NJPW that Kushida would be leaving WWE and has been in contact with a number of NJPW wrestlers.
Kushida has reportedly pitched multiple ideas for his return to NJPW, including a repackage, returning as part of a heel unit, showcasing an MMA-style gimmick, and working as a heavyweight.
Kushida was strictly booked as a junior heavyweight in NJPW. He won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship six times between 2014 and 2019. He was also a two-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion during his first run in NJPW.
Kushida left NJPW to sign with WWE in 2019. He was assigned to the company’s NXT brand, where he spent his entire tenure in the company. He had a nearly five-month reign as NXT Cruiserweight Champion in 2021.
The switchover to the brand’s new NXT 2.0 presentation was a turning point for Kushida in WWE, according to the VOW Flagship report, and he “frequently expressed his displeasure with the way he had been used” since the change.
Kushida’s last official match for WWE was on the March 22 edition of NXT Level Up, which saw him and Ikemen Jiro lose to Edris Enofe and Malik Blade. However, Kushida later appeared on an episode of NXT, where he was attacked backstage by Von Wagner.
While most reports have stated that Kushida left WWE after his contract expired, a report by Tokyo Sports on Monday cited a WWE official who stated that Kushida was either released or his contract was canceled; indicating that the decision to leave the company was not entirely his own.
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