NJPW's Katsuyori Shibata went off-script in his return to the ring at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16.
According to Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, Shibata's impromptu promo before his match with Ren Narita was indeed Shibata calling an audible and going forward with a different match than was planned.
"Everybody was freaking out backstage, nobody knew what was going on. This includes, like, the main people in the company, like [NJPW booker] Gedo and stuff like that. They didn't know," said Meltzer.
"He absolutely, 100 percent, nobody, I mean it's possible somebody knew this, but nobody essentially knew Shibata was going to go out there and do a real match."
Shibata vs. a mystery opponent was announced for night one of Wrestle Kingdom on January 4, with the opponent turning out to be Shibata's LA Dojo student Ren Narita. It was announced that the match would be held under catch wrestling rules, with no strikes allowed. Shibata took the microphone before the bout began and declared that the match would now be held under regular pro wrestling rules.
"100 percent. He went out there, he told the ref and he told the fans that we're going to do a regular match, and they went and did a regular match," Meltzer said.
Aside from a five-minute grappling exhibition against Zack Sabre Jr. at the G1 Climax finals in October 2021, the Wrestle Kingdom bout was Shibata's first match since suffering a life-threatening subdural hematoma in a match with Kazuchika Okada in April 2017.