Hey there, friendly reader. Welcome back to another installment of The Characters of NJPW! Now, before we can get to our profile, a little reminder about what this is may be needed, so let’s do that first:

This series will try to give newcomers to New Japan, as well as people curious towards its product, a feel as for how each of their wrestlers operate, what their motivations are, how their story drives them to be who they are, and how their actions inside and outside of the squared circle further their personas. Although this will contain historical data and a brief description of each wrestler’s past, its main goal is not meant to be a comprehensive guide to a performer’s history and achievements. Rather, we intend focus on two main topics: Character and in-ring work, to see how each wrestler on NJPW sets themselves apart from the rest of the roster, and what makes them truly unique and worth investing. If you want to check the first five installments, which talked about Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, and Katsuyori Shibata, you can do so by clicking on their names. Now, let’s get down to business.

Have you ever met that person who was just an enigma? You know, someone you admire, who is seemingly such a great, talented human being, but also a bit of a nut case? Some folks just do things differently. They have an alternative way of looking at life and its facets, and thus place their priority on things most of us wouldn’t focus on. The so-called free spirits have a way of going through life that fascinates, inspires and sparks discussion on all of humanity, often being deciding factors into mankind’s most significant achievements. What, one those exists in Professional Wrestling? Yes, absolutely. Meet the endearing madman that is Kota Ibushi.

Kota Ibushi

Introduction: Kota Ibushi does things because Kota Ibushi likes to do them. Those things may not be what you would think are the best for yourself or anyone’s career, but he does them because it brings joy to his heart. The Golden Star’s career started in the most prominent Japanese left-field promotion, DDT, popular for its unique blend of wrestling, with outlandish performers and stipulations. And what a perfect fit that was. He would become DDT’s most famous export and one of their biggest stars, fundamental in the company’s growth into one of the most successful in Japan. His work there and other independents caught the eye of NJPW officials, and he started having opportunities in New Japan.

Soon, he became a fixture of its Junior Heavyweight division, winning both the singles and tag titles along with Kenny Omega. He then signed an unprecedented dual deal with both New Japan and DDT. After a move to the heavyweight division and a New Japan Cup victory, though, the major titles of that division would elude him, and also exhaustion would settle in from the schedule. He would resign from both promotions in 2016. Since then, he freelanced for them and many others. He wrestled for the world’s biggest promotion, WWE. He also battled with cosplay monsters in Kaiju Big Battel. It’s a subject of great wonder as to what makes him act the way he does and be successful with it. So, let’s dive in!

Character: Some times, through life, people end up asking themselves where that child-like wonder they had went with the years. They used to be amazed at the endless possibilities of the world, and eager to test each of them out. And yet, time made them narrow their choices. Kota Ibushi never was able to truly shake that feeling away and focus on one thing. Well, he did have one. He wanted to be a superhero. More specifically Goku, from Dragon Ball. But he couldn’t, so he decided wrestling was the next best thing. Luckily for him, short of being Goku, he had the talent to be anything else he wanted.

Ibushi thinks free of constraints, and thus, wrestling is to him a platform to express his world view. Which doesn’t mean he doesn’t want the accolades. He craves for it, feverishly. It’s just that the meaning he gives to it is different. To him, true success is only achieved when his vision comes through. He wants to defy expectations and overcome, and believes there’s no need to copy anybody’s path to do it. Such a will comes with an inventiveness and drive to seek that end result with all of his might. His way of thought is frequently stigmatized. Ibushi is not only prepared to face those stigmas, but also feeds off of them.

While his dreams are the source of his pride and joy, they are also the catalysts of his wrath and tribulations. Whenever people step on them, Ibushi will lash out with extreme anger, like when Shinsuke Nakamura called him a joker because of his DDT roots. In their legendary match at Wrestle Kingdom 9, the Golden Star showed a fury he would then apply whenever someone questioned him or his choices. Also, if you trail your own path, you face difficulties no one has ever faced. How do you best the biggest talents NJPW has to offer if you’re not there enough to learn from them and elevate your game accordingly? Ibushi has yet to figure that equation out. But one thing’s for sure: nobody will diminish his story and vision to his face. To do that is to attack his right to happiness, something Ibushi will pursue endlessly, with a passion only the most delusional of dreamers can have. You can’t help to be captivated into going along with this ride, until the very end.

In-ring work: Ibushi said he became a wrestler because he couldn’t become a super hero, but if you ever saw him perform, you would think he hasn’t put those fantasies aside. He is cartoonishly nimble, able to perform the most outrageous maneuvers, and yet, also fierce enough to trade big bombs and strikes most of his opponents. Ibushi loves to think outisde of the box, and to accomplish things in a ring no one else thinks he would be able to. Also, when motivated or angry enough, Ibushi might become more agressive and just pummel his opponent with an unexpected surge of violence, almost unfitting of someone with his boyish looks and demeanor.

His current finishing maneuver, the Kamigoe, is named with the intent of besting the legends of the industry. It is a devastating knee strike, done to a prone opponent while holding both of his wrists to maintain maximum leverage and precision. He also has the powerful Last Ride sit-out Powerbomb and Phoenix-Plex, as well as the insane Phoenix Splash, an intricate twisting body splash. His karate background helps him employ many loud kicks, lariats and open palm strikes, and his athletic prowess makes standing twisting body presses and diving moves to the outside like the Golden Triangle moonsault seem like easy feats. Ibushi is even able to feint acrobatics into more acrobatics, as he is prone to attempt another, standing moonsault right after a diving version doesn’t connect, for example.

Ibushi shares a high octane approach to wrestling with his former partner and rival Omega, both capable of everything. Where Kenny is bravado, though, Ibushi is blind passion, and that can be a downfall. His fire may make him more aggressive, but it also gets him caught up in the moment enough to ignore an injured leg and perform a kick or a moonsault, which brings even more harm. Kota Ibushi’s instincts sometimes overwhelm him, and a willingness to risk everything may make him overestimate his own vulnerabilities. The Golden Star is so talented, inventive and worldly, he can keep up with the best. How to fine tune his tendencies and properly gameplan to the toughest rivals are the final steps towards the achievement of his dreams. Ibushi is the type to experiment things out, so he will keep going at it, until he finally surpasses the gods and becomes one himself.

Thank you so much for your continued support to this series! If you’d like, I set up a Patreon Page if you want to donate and help me continue to produce better content. The articles will continue to stay free, of course. This is just an easy avenue if you have the willingness and means to contribute with any amount you can, so I can keep doing these more and more. As always, any feedback and suggestions are appreciated. See you next time!

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