Until he finally put pen to paper on a full-time contract with the WWE last week, Kota Ibushi was the hottest free agent in all of wrestling.
The ‘Goldenstar’ joins the WWE as one of the hottest wrestlers in Japanese wrestling and as a well-travelled veteran who has the capability to make an instant impact on either the main roster or NXT.
Ibushi is one of the smoother workers inside the ring and his high-flying style mixed with stiff strikes and kicks makes him one of the most engaging wrestlers to watch. Wrestling is so clearly what Ibushi was born to do.
Even though he was one of the top stars in Japanese wrestling, Ibushi has finally bet on himself and jumped onto the world stage by signing with WWE. By past experience of his abilities, there’s no reason that Kota Ibushi can’t be a huge star for WWE.
#5 He started his career with Karate
Before he got into the world of professional wrestling, Ibushi started his career in competitive karate. He won a shinkarate K-2 tournament in 2003 before foraying into pro wrestling with the DDT promotion in Japan.
Ibushi’s inspiration from his karate training can clearly be seen while he’s in the squared circle. He has some of the most devastating kicks and strikes in wrestling which along with his lightning quick reflexes form a part of his deadly arsenal.
Whether Ibushi would have been as successful in karate as he has been in pro wrestling is hard to say, but his karate training has definitely influenced his wrestling style.
#4 He’s already faced a host of WWE Stars
Kota Ibushi is a travelled veteran and has faced some of the best wrestlers in the world during his time in Japan and the indies. Amongst them are a number of WWE Superstars. They include international stars like Cesaro, Sami Zayn and Finn Balor to Japanese sensations like Shinsuke Nakamura and Hideo Itami.
With Ibushi finally signing with WWE last week, all his experience against all these current WWE Superstars is bound to help in settle in quickly.
#3 He’s an early favourite to win the Cruiserweight Classic
Kota Ibushi is currently competing in WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic and is the biggest name in the tournament. When Ibushi first appeared at NXT Takeover: Dallas in the crowd, it sent wrestling fans frenzying into speculation mode.
Later it was revealed that he had signed up for the CWC, before eventually signing a full-time contract last week.
Following an impressive first-round victory against Sean Maluta, Ibushi cemented his status as the favourite to win the whole thing. Ibushi is one of the most gifted professional wrestlers in the world and brings a host of experience with him, including wrestling in-front of over 40,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome making him the man to beat.
#2 He has a 5 Star match under his belt
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter match-rating system is the most respected of its kind. It is to wrestling, as Michelin Stars are to food. Many wrestlers take the rating system very seriously, including Bret Hart, who’s stated in interviews about how proud he has been when his matches have been praised in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Since the inaugural WON 5 star match was awarded to Dyanamite Kid vs Tiger Mask I, only 78 matches have gotten the honour and Ibushi has one under his name. His match against Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 9 received the honour of a 5 star rating.
Kota Ibushi is one of the most successful wrestlers in the world today and the only things truly missing from his trophy cabinet are championships in the WWE.
Ibushi has won almost everything that there is to win in the Dramatic Dream Team promotion where he began his pro wrestling career.
He is also a former 3-time IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Champion and a one-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champion which he won with current Bullet Club leader Kenny Omega.
Along with this he’s also a former winner of the New Japan Cup and the prestigious Best of Super Juniors tournament which he won in 2011.
He’s also critically acclaimed and a 4-time winner of Wrestling Observers’ Best Flying Wrestler award. The only thing left for Ibushi to translate all his championships and experience to titles in the WWE.