We’ve been writing a lot about Kota Ibushi as of late. The international megastar was one of the early favorites to win the Cruiserweight Classic and was pushed to the moon during the WWE tournament, but was eliminated in the semifinals. After the CWC ended, Ibushi stated there was “zero chance” he would sign with WWE the same week he was announced as part of the NXT Dusty Rhodes Classic Tag Team Tournament. Ibushi released another statement clarifying that there’s no sum that would make him sign with WWE, because he’s loving doing one-off appearances for promotions and being a freelancer.
So it’s only with some surprise that Ibushi made his eagerly-anticipated return to New Japan on Monday, although I don’t think anyone could have anticipated he’d be unveiling a new persona (albeit a thinly veiled one) when he made his grand return.
Before New Japan’s King Of Pro-Wrestling show on Monday, Ibushi wrestled in a dark match as none other than Tiger Mask W, the main character of the new anime series of the same name. The original Tiger Mask wrestling gimmick was inspired by an anime and manga character, so this is really all just coming full circle. Tiger Mask W wrestled and defeated Red Death Mask, and as you can see, the only real difference between Kota Ibushi and this new character is long pants and a baller-ass mask.
I definitely hope this new character continues in New Japan. I also hope they make these masks available for purchase at some point, because holy crap look at that thing.
We understand if you spend the rest of your day staring at that GIF.