With a career spanning over three decades, the world of professional wrestling said goodbye to Jushin Thunder Liger today in his last appearance at NJPW’s New Year Dash. Liger had his final match on Sunday at Wrestle Kingdom 14 and a memorable retirement segment during today’s show.
Born Keiichi Yamada in 1964, he was given the gimmick in 1989, a character based on the anime television series of the same name. Having participated in over 4,000 matches throughout his 36-year career, Liger is one of the most recognizable names in the history of professional wrestling and an icon in his homeland of Japan.
Liger wrestled for multiple promotions throughout his career including All Star Wrestling, Stampede Wrestling, WWE, WCW, Ring of Honor, TNA, and other independent promotions, but remained loyal to New Japan Pro Wrestling where he was the longest-serving employee.
In WWE, he only had one match and that came under the NXT banner in 2015 where he wrestled Tyler Breeze at the NXT Takeover: Brooklyn event. In WCW, he had a few more matches than that, wrestling for the Atlanta-based promotion between 1991 and 1992 and then 1995 and 1999. Liger also had a few matches under TNA/Impact Wrestling, making his debut for them at the Bound For Glory 2005 pay-per-view losing to Samoa Joe and then went on to have a few more PPV matches during the following year.
Liger’s title reigns are too many to count, including 22 which came in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is regarded as one of the best high-flyers this industry has ever seen. AEW and Impact Wrestling saluted Liger with #ThankYouLiger tweets while WWE sent flowers for his retirement ceremony.