Tony Khan Welcomes Previously Retired Star To AEW

Tony Khan AEW

Tony Khan has made another big acquisition for AEW as he has made a Japanese wrestling legend officially All Elite.

AEW fans will already be familiar with Japanese wrestling legend Katsuyori Shibata as the star has competed eight times for the company. In March 2023, Shibata won the Pure Title in Tony Khan’s other promotion Ring of Honor but lost that gold to Wheeler Yuta in November. At the time, Shibata’s future as part of either company looked uncertain as he returned to Japan.

Now Tony Khan has taken to social media to reveal that Katsuyori Shibata has officially signed with AEW and he has also shared a letter from Shibata revealing that he was able to do so with permission from NJPW, his now former employer.

Tony Khan’s Newest Signing Previously Had To Retire

Katsuyori Shibata was previously forced to step away from the ring in 2017 following a bout with Kazuchika Okada that left him with a subdural hematoma that required emergency surgery. The problem stemmed from sickening headbutts Shibata used in his matches and it was believed then that his in-ring career was over.

However, Shibata made a surprise return to the ring under Grappling Rules against Zack Sabre Jr. in 2021 where strikes were not permitted. Shibata had his last NJPW match against Ren Narita at Wrestle Kingdom in January 2022 and since March 2023, he has been a somewhat regular fixture in ROH and AEW, and now that look sets to continue as he officially signs with Tony Khan.

While Shibata’s signing is good news for AEW, some goings-on behind the scenes might be cause for concern. Several executives have recently left or are about to leave the company with an AEW original with family connections to the company also set to depart.