Tomoaki Honma is one of the elder statemen of New Japan Pro Wrestling, and has been spending 2017 thus far celebrating his 20th anniversary as a professional wrestler. But during Friday night’s NJPW event in Okinawa, Honma appeared to suffer a serious in-ring injury.
According to WrestlingNews.co, a six-man match pitting Honma, Michael Elgin and Togi Makabe against Jado, Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii ended abruptly after a botched DDT to Honma. Jado delivered a DDT, but Honma’s foot got caught in the ropes and he landed incorrectly as a result.
Referees, wrestlers, and medical staff checked on Honma immediately in the ring and put an oxygen mask on him. He was reportedly responsive to the doctors, but was stretchered out of the ring.
UPDATE: On Saturday, New Japan issued a statement on Honma’s injury via their official English-language website:
Tomoaki Honma was injured on March 3rd during his match in Okinawa, and immediately rushed to hospital. He was diagnosed to have injured his cervical vertebrae. In order to recover, he will miss the scheduled March 6th IWGP Tag Team title match and his return to the ring is currently tentative. His tag partner, Togi Makabe, has also declined to compete on March 6th.
As a result, the IWGP Executive Committee has named Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima as the challengers.
The grizzled wrestler is known to New Japan fans (and wrestling fans in general) for his lengthy career and a reliance on headbutts. He was part of the Big Japan dojo before starting professionally, and spent the first few years of his career in a number of death matches.
He and Makabe are former IWGP Tag Team Champions and two-time World Tag League winners, and longtime fan favorites. He also has held championships in Big Japan, and earned a coveted Wrestling Observer five-star match against Ishii in 2015.