On Monday, we brought you news (via New Japan’s official website) that top NJPW star Katsuyori Shibata suffered a serious brain injury that required surgery after his highly-acclaimed match against Kazuchika Okada this weekend. Now there’s a new report indicating that injury may not be entirely legitimate … or may be something else altogether.
On the latest edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, Bryan Alvarez asked Dave Meltzer what’s happening with Shibata’s injury. Meltzer replied that, to the best of his knowledge, the brain injury is a storyline, but Shibata will be out of New Japan for an extended period of time.
“As best I can tell, it’s an angle. So he’s going to be off for a while. Maybe it’s like Kofi [Kingston’s injury] in this situation, where it’s another issue that they did an angle to cover for. I don’t know. But that’s what I was told: it’s an angle.”
This is certainly strange and confusing. If you’re going to keep Shibata off television, why would you go with “traumatic brain injury” as the cover story? Is there something even more serious at play here than a subdural hematoma? Or is this just a terribly tone-deaf angle? Or is the injury actually legit and Meltzer is getting some incorrect info?
We have no way of knowing at the time being, but rest assured we’ll bring you updates when we have them. For now, we will continue to wish Shibata the best … regardless of what’s going on with him.