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Shibata returns in exhibition match at NJPW G1 Climax finals

Image: NJPW

Katsuyori Shibata made a surprise return to in-ring action during this morning’s G1 Climax 31 finals, competing in a five-minute exhibition match.

As intermission ended, Zack Sabre Jr. came out. Katsuyori Shibata then entered and it was announced that a five-minute UWF rules exhibition match would take place. Shibata didn’t take bumps but had a competitive back and forth match, with Shibata reversing a cobra twist from Sabre and applying one of his own as the time limit expired.

After the match, Shibata and Sabre shook hands as Sabre left. Shibata then cut a promo saying next time he would be in the ring, it would be for a actual match.

Shibata has not wrestled since April 2017, when he suffered a hematoma while wrestling Kazuchika Okada at Sakura Genesis 2017. Shibata was forced to retire as a result of the injury. In the years since, he has become the head trainer for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s dojo in Los Angeles, which opened in 2018.