Is Kushida Returning to NJPW?

Earlier this month, news broke that former NXT Cruiserweight champion Kushida had parted ways with World Wrestling Entertainment. The news apparently came as no surprise to those within WWE, and industry insiders. quotes Dave Meltzer, who stated on Wrestling Observer Radio, “It was not a secret that he wasn’t going to stay, and I know in WWE the belief is that he starts with New Japan in June.”

It has not been confirmed whether or not Kushida will be returning to New Japan Pro Wrestling, but he certainly had a stellar run there. Kushida’s ten years in NJPW, 2010-2019, saw him win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title six times, and the junior heavyweight tag team championship twice. He signed with WWE’s NXT brand in 2019, captured the Cruiserweight title and held it for 160 days until a loss to Roderick Strong. The title has since been unified with the North American Championship.

Following the loss of the Cruiserweight title, Kushida was placed in a comedic tag team alongside Ikemen Jiro, known as Jacket Time.

It is this creative direction, Wrestling Inc purports that led to Kushida’s dissatisfaction at WWE. Reportedly, Kushida was displeased with his presentation following NXT’s rebranding into NXT 2.0. Reports suggest that Kushida has pitched multiple ideas to NJPW for a potential return, and has been in contact with several NJPW wrestlers.

Speculation that Kushida’s return to NJPW is imminent comes on the heels of Tony Khan’s announcement that his promotion All Elite Wrestling will be hosting a joint ppv with NJPW, Forbidden Door,  on June 26 in Chicago. If the swirl of rumors around Kushida’s return to the brand where his legend was made prove true, expectations for his appearance at Forbidden Door will also undoubtedly be high. 

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