Translations mine. Annotations given in . All original tweets and statements © their respective authors.
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This is a highly abbreviated summary of the events. If you want to see everything laid out in full detail, please see my original post here.
Injury and Return Announcement
I suppose the only correct place to start are the finals of the G1 CLIMAX 2021, taking place at the end of October. There, Ibushi gruesomely dislocates and fractures his shoulder in the match against Okada. He later tweets his apologies to the fans and everyone, and once NJPW announces it will take him about 2 months to heal and makes note of how little time he has but that he will definitely be back better than ever.
Predictably, such an injury does not heal in 2 months. In February, NJPW surprisingly announces that Ibushi will take part in the New Japan Cup. Though joy and expectations are high at first, Ibushi tweets “Hmm, I see”, so quickly worry and speculation join the mix.
Just days before the announcement, Ibushi had stated on his Instagram that his shoulder was still causing him pain, and attached a picture of him as well that showed the difference between his shoulders. This contradicts the statement NJPW will later issue, saying that Ibushi got entered into the New Japan Cup “in accordance with his own strong wishes”. NJPW retracts the announcement and says that Ibushi will not return to the ring at this time. Ibushi will call this a “scam” on NJPW’s part in the future.
On March 4th, he is seen seconding TAKA Michinoku in JTO (Professional Wrestling Just Tap Out). Things spiral out of control quickly from there.
LINE Screenshots and Follow-up
Then on May 10th, the bomb drops. First, Ibushi implies that he might be headed for retirement from wrestling and says that he doesn’t “want to live in an irrational place” where there are “an ex-cheater gang, and boss[es] who [used to?] sexually harass people” running around.
He posts the first LINE screenshot. It shows a conversation between Ibushi and Kikuchi (who will later be revealed to be a booking assistant to Gedo), the latter of whom threatens to fire Ibushi in the screenshot. Ibushi claims that this came after months of radio silence from NJPW management. He goes into more detail about Kikuchi, revealing that he tried to have Ibushi return in December, and that he was exploited again and again by him and company president Ohbari. When he posts the second screenshot, it becomes clear Kikuchi was trying to pressure Ibushi via his appearance in JTO, even though Ibushi states that, after speaking with Gedo, it was seemingly no issue at all. He posts a third screenshot, in the tweet also voicing his anger towards Ohbari, and making it clear that he won’t forgive the offending parties for what they did.
Later, Ibushi claims he can only talk about a smidgen of what he has seen, and finds himself fighting alone in a battle of person vs company. His fear of facing permanent retirement also seems to come from this “darkness”, as he states “they” will limit and censor and even “delete” him should he say too much. He mentions organized crime being involved.
At the end of May, Ibushi reveals that the real reason he shared the screenshots and exposed NJPW was that the situation around his JTO appearance had caused his mother to attempt suicide once he shared it with her. He blames Kikuchi and co for the emotional and physical stress brought to him and his family, and states that they are once again treating him with silence.
A couple days later, NJPW releases a pre-recorded “press conference” on YouTube, concerning the Ibushi case. Kikuchi was penalized by being moved to a different position and a 10% pay reduction for 3 months, and Ibushi as well as president Ohbari were penalized with the same 10% pay reduction for 3 months. The penalty for Ibushi was stated to be due to him breaching his contract by going to JTO without consulting anyone beforehand, and disclosing the names of NJPW officials. Ibushi clarifies later that he had spoken to NJPW officials the day before going to JTO, and that he was assured it wouldn’t violate his contract as long as he didn’t work the show in any way (wear gear or hold a promo, etc).
Ibushi questions why NJPW would keep him as he believes they actually want to just fire him, and again stresses that his motivation for exposing them was his mother’s attempted suicide. He says they haven’t apologized for that yet.
Shortly after all this, he begins making mentions of “a new kind of wrestling” and he seems to want to create a place for younger talent to develop and shine, instead of “standing in the way as an old geezer”. As of July 2022, he felt his shoulder was doing worse than it was in December of 2021, and that it showed no signs of getting better after months of rehabilitation and care.
Ibushi stated in August 2022 that his shoulder is slowly getting better, and that he is far from done fighting against or forgiving NJPW (primarily Ohbari and Kidani) and that the “everything is fine” attitude they have been putting on in regards to him is just a farce. He mentioned legal action on his part being involved, as well as once again promising he is going to reveal everything one day, among his continued apologies and expressions of gratitude towards the fans.