On March 7, 2019, the innovator of the Shooting Star Press, Jushin Thunder Liger set a retirement date. The announcement was made during a conference with New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

Liger is a 35-year veteran in the world of professional wrestling. He made his heartfelt announcement to his fans that his final match and retainment date is set for the biggest NJPW show, Wrestle Kingdom 14, set for January 4, 2020.

Jushin Thunder Liger made his wrestling debut on March 3, 1984. Liger was an amateur wrestler in high school and had big dreams of becoming a pro-wrestler. After graduating from high school, he applied at New Japan Pro-Wrestling but was turned away. The reason the King of Sports turned down the legend was because he did not reach the height requirement.

Jushin refused to quit on his dream of becoming an in-ring competitor. He decided to leave Japan and traveled to Mexico regardless of the language barriers. New Japan officials would then find out about Liger’s struggles in Mexico and he was invited back to continue his training at the dojo.

His debut match was at the age of 19 with Shunji Kosugi. The Japanese Legend studied several martial arts styles in hopes to innovate pro-wrestling. This is how Liger would introduce the Abisegeri Kick.

On August 1987, in Japan. Jushin Thunder Liger debuted the Shooting Star Press in a match with Masakatsu Funaki. The idea of the Shooting Star Press came from the manga Fist of the North Star.

Liger’s style could be described as high flying. Later, in his career he would move and incorporate grappling more as a performer. The change in style had to do with his struggles with a brain tumor. Jushin Thunder Liger would undergo brain tumor surgery in August 1996.

Liger, in his career, would win 2 Super J-Cup tournaments and capture the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 11 times.

Liger has competed in several promotions such as WCW, NJPW, TNA, ROH, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, PWG, WWE NXT, and others.

Courtesy of New Japan Pro-Wrestling:

Q: Many people have been surprised and uneasy about your surprise announcement. Was the decision to retire made at the match yesterday, or had you considered it previously?

Liger: It was at that match that I realized I was not developing any further. At that match I realized that no matter how much I was using the skills I had cultivated, there was just no growth left inside me.

I felt it this in that match against the young and dynamic Taiji Ishimori. It’s a subtle feeling that would be hard for anyone to understand unless they have been in a similar fight themselves. I intend to retire no matter how much stick I get from others. It’s also about quitting while I’m ahead. I thought to myself, what sort of reputation to I want as a wrestler. When I quit, do I want people to be saying, “what, are you still around?” Better to have them say “why quit, when you still have it in you?” I’m still a wrestler, and so I made the decision to retire.

Q: In your role as Liger, when did the word “retirement” first occur to you?

Liger: I had of course been training for the recent match I played, but whereas when I was younger, I entered the ring with the attitude, “I’m going to crush my opponent”, on this occasion when I got into that ring I was thinking, “I’m aching all over. I can’t afford to get tired.”

A wrestler has to be strong, as Kotetsu Yamamoto, Inoki-san and Fujiwara-san always told me. “A wrester has to be strong.” I believe that myself. But now that a crack in my armor has appeared, I thought to myself, it won’t be long now.

Q: How exactly did you approach the company about this?

It wasn’t exactly an approach. Each year, the New Japan Pro-Wrestling wrestlers renew their contract, and at that time we can tell them what we are feeling. So when the time came this year, I had a number of discussions with the company. When I knew inside myself what I wanted to do, they arranged a press conference for me.

Jushin Thunder Liger is a Legend, a pro-wrestler, but most of all an innovator in wrestling.

Pics & video courtesy of NJPW

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