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Taiji Ishimori leaves Pro Wrestling NOAH

In a surprise move, longtime junior heavyweight Taiji Ishimori announced today that he is leaving Pro Wrestling NOAH effective immediately.

Ishimori, 35, announced that starting today he would become a freelance wrestler after being a part of Pro Wrestling NOAH for over 12 years, starting with the promotion back in 2006. Ishimori said in a press conference at NOAH’s Tokyo office Monday that people like Hideo Itami and Shinsuke Nakamura inspired him to make the move.

“While I personally do like to fight on the front line of things, I have experienced [a] overseas expedition and [am] more interested in the outside world now,” he is quoted as saying in a translation from a Yahoo Sports article. “I have been at NOAH for twelve years and a wrestler for sixteen. If I do not make this decision, I will regret it unless I take the first step.”

“WWE is the goal and I want to keep trying to end up there” he mentioned.

Ishimori had been a big staple of the junior heavyweight division in the promotion, winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight championship three times. He most recently appeared for Impact Wrestling where he held the X Division title until this past January when Matt Sydal defeated him for the title.