Given his popular tag partnership with Kenny Omega, many fans expected to see Kota Ibushi in All Elite Wrestling. However, Ibushi made his return from injury to New Japan Pro Wrestling earlier this month and committed to the company in both his speech to the fans and comments to the press backstage.
In an interview with Weekly Pro Wrestling translated on Twitter by author and part-time New Japan commentator Chris Carlton, Ibushi explained why he made the decision to stick with NJPW rather than commit to the new American promotion. He said he was “in negotiations with AEW at the end of last year” but “the second I went, that would be the end of my wrestling career, I thought.”
In Ibushi’s words:
What I realized [talking to AEW] was I really don’t care about money… AEW said they just want me in their ring in some form. The ideal for them was for me to move to America and be there full time. I turned them down just after Wrestle Kingdom. If I went it would be the end of my career. There wouldn’t be anywhere else to go after that. No step up, nothing left to do. That would be the last step to make, and after that things would just go down. Great money, but I want to keep developing… This is the last decision I will make in my career. I’ll end my wrestling career in NJPW.
He also said he hasn’t spoken to Omega, who told Wrestling Observer Radio this month that he expects Ibushi to show up in AEW in the “near future” and has since posted Golden Lovers-related tweets, “since Wrestle Kingdom.” On Ibushi’s part, another Golden Lovers reunion doesn’t seem to be a high priority, and he doesn’t know whether it is for Omega either.
Kenny wants to change the world with wrestling. I think to change the world with wrestling, New Japan is the best place to do that. That’s where he and I differ. I can do all that here. I’m all the places I’ve been, NJPW is the highest level… He chose his path. Good luck to him and I’ll be doing my best on my path’ We might be together again one day, and I think it’s fine to leave it like that. It’d be cool to be Golden Lovers again one day… although by then we might be too old to use that name.