Shibata was contacted after KUSHIDA’s WWE exit and Tanahashi was contacted the day of his NJPW return.
There is a two part interview that NJPW has with KUSHIDA on their website and part two has been pushed out. KUSHIDA shared that when he left WWE, the first person he contacted was Katsuyori Shibata and on the morning of June 21st when he returned to NJPW, he reached out to Hiroshi Tanahashi.
KUSHIDA added that he exchanged emails with Shibata while he was in WWE because he would see talents from NJPW STRONG coming into NXT.
Yes, I did [tell someone about my surprise return to NJPW]. I came to Japan from Orlando the day before and returned to Orlando the next day. I didn’t communicate with anyone beforehand… However, when I quit WWE, the first person I contacted was Katsuyori Shibata.
Yes. Then, on the morning of June 21, the day of Korakuen Hall, I contacted Mr. Tanahashi.
Actually, I had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Shibata several times while I was with WWE, because wrestlers who were in NJPW STRONG were coming to WWE/NXT, weren’t they?… And I had a lot of opportunities to fight against them.
Conversely, some of the guys who quit NXT returned to NJPW STRONG, so there was a lot of traffic from there.
He touched on NJPW’s U.S. expansion and the formation of STRONG. KUSHIDA feels the show should get more attention from Japanese fans and added that it was an honor for him to compete at the High Alert taping in July.
I think it [NJPW STRONG] should get more attention from Japanese fans because it is really doing great things, and I think it is a good thing. Looking back, in 2012, one of New Japan’s main wrestlers participated in ROH’s North American tour. Okada (Kazuchika), Tanahashi (Hiroshi) and Nakamura (Shinsuke) were there. I believe that New Japan’s global expansion began in earnest at that time, and it is truly amazing that it is now blossoming and we are able to hold regular shows overseas like this.
I also feel honored to have been able to participate in the Charlotte show just the other day. I think it is absolutely necessary for us to continue this kind of thing on a regular basis for 10 to 20 years and to make it prosperous.
At NJPW Music City Mayhem in late July, KUSHIDA went one-on-one with Alex Shelley. To read POST Wrestling’s write-up of that event, head over to this link.