Tonight during the NJPW 47th Anniversary press conference, Jushin Thunder Liger announced he will be retiring in January of next year.
“Yesterday’s match made me see I have nowhere else to grow. I can still do it, still get in there, but have no room for growth,” Liger said during his announcement (translation from Chris Charlton). “There really isn’t anything I haven’t done. This company has let me do whatever I wanted.”
Yamada Keiichi did not meet the height requirements the New Japan dojo had at the time, so he traveled to Mexico to train. The New Japan dojo eventually took him in, where he trained with The Great Muta, Masahiro Chono, and Shinya Hashimoto. He had his debut match at the age of nineteen, in 1984. He traveled to Europe and Canada, and then made his return to New Japan to dawn the mask he is so famous for.
Over the past thirty-five years, Liger has done it all. He is a record eleven-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Champion, with no one even coming close to that feat. He wrestled the first match on the inaugural episode of WCW Monday Night Nitro against Brian Pillman. In 2015, Liger wrestled a match against Tyler Breeze at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn II. He has wrestled for Ring of Honor, Total Nonstop Action, CMLL, NOAH, Dragon Gate, and PWG.
“I might not be completely ‘full up’ on wrestling. But that’s the best time to stop. I have done everything I want to do but I’m not sick of it. I’m still mobile, I’m not a complete wreck.”Liger during New Japan press conference (translation from Chris Charlton)
Liger is ending his career on his own terms, which is the best possible situation. He will retire in the Tokyo Dome, where he had his first match way back in 1984. By the time he retires in January of next year, his career will have spanned five decades. He is the definition of a legend, and has been instrumental in revolutionizing the junior style of professional wrestling.
It’s way too early to know who Liger’s last opponent in a wrestling ring will be.
If you have the chance to see Jushin Thunder Liger live before he retires, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to see a living legend one last time.