A previously unfathomable match has been scheduled for the forthcoming AEW Rampage, a bout that has reportedly been in the works for several months.
Retaining the AEW All Atlantic Championship against Luchasaurus and Rey Fenix on the latest AEW Dynamite, Orange Cassidy earned the right to an All Atlantic City Dream Match for the subsequent episode of Rampage. That will see ‘Freshly Squeezed’ defend the title against NJPW’s Katsuyori Shibata.
‘The Wrestler’ initially saved Cassidy from a post-match beatdown courtesy of PAC, before putting pen to paper. This will mark the former NEVER Openweight Champion’s in-ring debut with AEW. He had previously made one appearance for the company, that being at AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door.
Writing in this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer revealed that the match between Shibata and Cassidy had been planned as far back as June. Shibata’s aforementioned Forbidden Door segment saw him confront Will Ospreay and Aussie Open after Ospreay felled Orange Cassidy.
Dave Meltzer had previously noted in a Wrestling Observer Radio broadcast that Katsuyori Shibata is also eyeing up a potential match vs. Bryan Danielson. It’s unknown when or if that match will go ahead but given the style of the two involved, AEW management will surely try anything to make it happen.
Shibata was forced into retirement following his NJPW Sakura Genesis 2017 bout vs. Kazuchika Okada, suffering a subdural hematoma off a stiff headbutt delivered to ‘The Rainmaker’. He’s wrestled just one official match since, defeating Ren Narita at Wrestle Kingdom 2022. That was promoted as a grappling exhibition, as he had previously contested vs. Zack Sabre Jr. last October.