Kota Ibushi is the biggest free agent available in 2023

The news of Kota Ibushi’s contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling coming to the end will kick off the biggest free-agent play of 2023. 

Major news broke in the wrestling world Tuesday evening, as New Japan Pro Wrestling announced that Kota Ibushi is no longer with the promotion. If anyone was putting together a list of the top wrestlers in the business, Ibushi would be in that group. With this news, he easily becomes one of the biggest free agents in professional wrestling.

NJPW made the announcement via a statement on the promotion’s official website.

“With the conclusion of his contract period on January 31, 2023, Kota Ibushi has departed New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Ibushi had been recovering from injury since October 2021,” NJPW said in the statement. “We apologize to Ibushi’s fans for the abrupt announcement, and join them in wishing Ibushi the very best in all his future endeavors.”

Throughout 2022, Ibushi was embroiled in a very public spat with the promotion. One that led many to be concerned for the performer’s mental health and well-being. Ibushi eventually opened up and informed his fans of his struggles, and it was widely presumed that his time with the promotion was coming to an end.

The last few years have been quite perplexing for a run for Ibushi. The back-to-back G1 Climax winner went from the top of the promotion, to non-existent. He unified the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships into the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. But he held that status for only thirty days before dropping it to Will Ospreay. He would make it to the G1 Climax final for the fourth year in a row, only to suffer the injury that would force him to the sideline.

Kota Ibushi would fit in perfectly in All Elite Wrestling

Ibushi’s talents are recognized far and wide and he should expect both WWE and AEW to make major plays for his abilities. Fans should expect AEW to be the front-runner in the race to pick him up, simply because of his connections to some of the biggest names in the company. WWE nearly had his services back in 2016 during the time of the CWC, but he decided to leave the offer and head back to Japan. Looking at how WWE booked everyone in that division and nearly every minority wrestler since – that was a division that truly benefited his career.

Imagine the stories that could be told with Ibushi in All Elite Wrestling. Bringing him back together to face off with Kenny Omega. Or what if he joins Omega to make a run at the tag team titles? Matches against the likes of PAC, Rey Fenix, Konosuke Takeshita, and many more would await. He’s the perfect piece to build momentum for the company as it heads into its next PPV in March and beyond.

Kota Ibushi is one of the most talented performers in professional wrestling. Now that his NJPW contract is over, it will be intriguing to see where he ends up for the next phase of his career. Regardless of which major company signs him, he’s set to be one of the biggest free agents available in the business.