In an interview published today, KUSHIDA spoke out on the “sudden change in thinking” at WWE, which ultimately led to his departure from the company.
The junior heavyweight star, who left WWE in April when his contract expired, was asked about the decision to return to New Japan Pro Wrestling in an interview conducted ahead of tonight’s match with Alex Shelley at NJPW Music City Mayhem.
Speaking about the switch in philosophy with the advent of NXT 2.0, KUSHIDA told the official NJPW website:
Well, to set the scene a bit, the turnover in WWE is really relentless. In August of 2021, there was a really sudden change in thinking there. Essentially they wanted to train young wrestlers, under 30, that didn’t have pro-wrestling experience and had come from other athletic backgrounds. When it comes to me, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that left me redundant, effectively.
You have to remember I was 36 when I got an offer from WWE…So with this youth push on over there, it wasn’t like I had a shoot time machine of my own, so it became ‘OK, what can I do here?’. Everyone was asking the same questions, I think, actually. And NJPW immediately popped in my head. I felt really strongly right away that LA would be the best place to base myself.
KUSHIDA added that it had not been his intention to talk about WWE but that, in a wide-ranging interview, it would have been “meaningless” to completely ignore his experience there.
The 39-year-old also addressed his love of tag-team wrestling, his relationship with Alex Shelley, and the price of gas in the US.