Multiple reports seem to confirm that former Cruiserweight Champion Kushida has left WWE, including one claiming that he has wasted the last three years of his career there.
Speculation about his release started to circulate on 18th April when fans noticed that Kushida’s profile was no longer on the main roster of the WWE website, and had been moved to the alumni section.
Later that day, Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful confirmed that he had been told the NXT star had left the organisation after his contract expired.
Fightful has confirmed that Kushida has left WWE
— Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (@SeanRossSapp) April 19, 2022
Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer later backed up the report, including giving a timeframe for where and when Kushida is expected to re-emerge.
He is done, his contract expired, it was not a secret that he was not gonna stay. I know the belief in WWE is he starts in New Japan in June so that’s what they believe and it’s probably the case. So yeah, he signed a three-year deal and kinda wasted three years of his career I think.
Continuing, Meltzer went in to some detail regarding why Kushida went to WWE in the first place and how it was a waste of many years of his career.
I know he wanted to come to the United States, I think he was 35 or 36 at the time. I think in his mind he had plateaued because he was the face of the New Japan Junior Heavyweight Division and then Will Ospreay and Hiromu Takahashi pretty much passed him up.
WWE had been after him when Paul Levesque was trying to sign all the great workers and the guy’s a great worker so it seemed good, but once he got here. It’s tough if you’re a small Japanese wrestler in WWE.
Even during the Levesque era when they were more into wrestling ability and size he still wasn’t a good fit because more than the wrestling ability they were into the talking ability and he was not a great English language talker so it was gonna be tough.
But he was a big star, remember when they signed him they made a big deal of him, they gave him a big debut and acted like they had got a giant star and he was legitimately a big star in Japan at the time but for all the reasons you would have expected it didn’t work out, it wasn’t going to work out and now with the handwriting on the wall, he kinda wasted three years in a lot of ways.
Former six-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kushida signed with WWE in 2019, heading to the then black and gold brand and becoming Cruiserweight Champion when he defeated Santos Escobar in April 2021. Whilst many hoped this would bring him to more prominence, it also took place during the transition to NXT 2.0, where the title took somewhat of a backseat before he lost it to Roderick Strong ahead of the belt’s retirement.
With thanks to Inside The Ropes for the transcription.