As previously reported, six-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion Yujiro Kushida (stylized as KUSHIDA) has announced his intention to retire from New Japan Pro-Wrestling, effective at the end of this month.
After dropping his title to Bullet Club’s Taiji Ishimori this past weekend at Wrestle Kingdom 13, Kushida will be wrapping up his career with New Japan at their upcoming Road to The New Beginning event on Tuesday, Jan. 29th taking place at Korakuen Hall.
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Kushida’s final opponent in Japan is an appropriate one, as for many years he has been referred to the “ace” of the New Japan junior heavyweight division. He has been with the promotion since 2010, competing at the top of both the singles and tag team divisions, stacking up eight title reigns, two Best of the Super Juniors tournament wins, and a total of 684 days as IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion.
On Jan. 29th Kushida will wrap up a Hall of Fame worthy run by facing off against his fellow “ace” of the New Japan heavyweight division and the current reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion, Hiroshi Tanahashi, who defeated Kenny Omega to win the title for a record eight times at the Tokyo Dome.
This is a major send-off match for a number of reasons. Outside of the fact that they both essentially carried their respective divisions on their backs for several years, they have shared the ring more than 160 times and never once faced off against each other — largely due to New Japan’s generally strict weight class segregation.