NJPW Star Announces Departure After Winning Title At Wrestle Kingdom 18

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Tama Tonga has announced that he is leaving NJPW.

At Wrestle Kingdom 18, Tama Tonga regained the NEVER Openweight Championship from Shingo Takagi in a classic match that saw him paying homage to past Bullet Club leaders by using the Bloody Sunday and Styles Clash before hitting his own DSD for a decisive win over The Dragon.

However, speaking after the victory, Tonga revealed he had other things on his mind. After almost 14 years in NJPW, the veteran revealed he has decided that January will be his last month in the company, explaining that he wants to be closer to his family.

“During this magical moment in my career, you’d think I’d be elated, over the moon, just so happy. And I am, but damn I miss my family. I miss my wife, I miss my kids. I just had my third baby a couple of months ago. Leaving her and my two other kids at home with my wife has been very difficult for me.

“I love Japan, I love everything that I learned here, everyone that I met, whether they were wrestlers, staff, journalists. I’ve connected with a lot of you.

“I grew up in this life, my father was a wrestler. Until now, I finally realised how he felt, leaving for a work for months at a time while my mom took care of us for months at a time. And man, did she do a hell of a job. But I feel for her, I feel for basically being a single parent for my childhood, and I have the utmost respect for that.

“As I see that happening now with my family, it hurts. This is very hard for me to say, and I just made up my mind today, that this will be my last month with New Japan Pro Wrestling. I must find work closer to home to be with my family. Thank you.”

WWE Has Shown Interest In NJPW Star Tama Tonga

In the first half of 2023, Tama Tonga revealed that WWE had been “knocking hard on his door” to sign the star. Around the same time, there were also reports that the company was interested in his brother, Hikuleo, who also won gold at Wrestle Kingdom in the form of the IWGP and STRONG Tag Team Titles alongside El Phantasmo.

Where Tama Tonga ends up remains to be seen, but before he leaves there is ample time to defend his newfound title as NJPW will hold New Year Dash!!, Battle in the Valley, and The New Beginning in Nagoya during January.

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