Ibushi's career has been intertwined with that of Kenny Omega since their days in DDT; Kenny originally came to Japan in 2008 to challenge Ibushi, but eventually became friends with him, forming the "Golden☆Lovers" tag team. They would win the KO-D Tag Team Championship twice, as well as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship in 2010. They would also battle over the KO-D Openweight Championship at Budokan Hall in August 2012, in a match many commentators call one of the greatest of all time.note Outside of the Golden☆Lovers' honors, in DDT, Ibushi was a three-time KO-D Openweight Champion and held the KO-D Tag Team Championship three other times (five in total).
In NJPW, he became a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, and won the 2011 Best of the Super Juniors tournament. Ibushi moved to heavyweight status in late 2014, and he and Omega split up when Kenny joined NJPW, as part of the Bullet Club, in October 2014 as a junior heavyweight. Ibushi won the 2015 New Japan Cup, and earned a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Invasion Attack 2015, which was held by the Bullet Club's AJ Styles at the time. During the climax of the match, a distraction from Kenny would cost Ibushi the title.
Starting in 2016, Ibushi would work as a freelancer, which gave him the chance to participate in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, making the semi-finalsnote . He returned to NJPW in late 2016, first under the guise of Tiger Mask W, then under his own name in June 2017 when he entered the 2017 G1 Climax.
The story between Ibushi and Omega started heating up again then; Kenny (now a heavyweight and the leader of Bullet Club) and Kota were in separate blocks, teasing a possible final match between the two, and Ibushi tried to meet and console Kenny backstage after his finals loss against Tetsuya Naito. Ibushi was then targeted by Cody, despite Omega's directive to leave Ibushi alone. Ibushi would win their match at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in January 2018, but Cody would attempt to take him out the next night at New Years Dash, leading Omega to come in the ring and make the save. Then, later in the month at New Beginning in Sapporo, Cody turned on Omega after Kenny lost his IWGP United States title match, and this time Ibushi made the save. Then, in one of modern wrestling's most anticipated and emotional moments, Kota and Kenny embraced, and the Golden☆Lovers were reunited! They would make their return as a team at the ROH/NJPW Honor Rising card in February 2018.
Ibushi would fight alongside Omega and The Young Bucks (as the "Golden☆Elite") during The Elite's breakaway from Bullet Club, and support Kenny during his IWGP Heavyweight title reign. 2018 also saw him make it to the finals of the 2018 G1 Climaxnote , and later claim his first NEVER Openweight Championship, although he dropped the belt shortly afterwards to Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 13.
When the Elite left NJPW in early 2019 to form All Elite Wrestling, Ibushi chose to stay in NJPW, finally overcoming his reluctance to commit to the Lion Marknote to sign exclusively with them. He would claim the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on 04 April, defeating Naito in Madison Square Garden, but would drop it back to Naito a couple of months later.
On August 12, 2019, Ibushi won the 2019 G1 Climax tournament by beating “Switchblade” Jay White in the final. In doing so he became the first and currently only wrestler to have won all three of New Japan’s singles tournaments (Best of Super Juniors, New Japan Cup, G1). However, he was unable to follow up with a win at Wrestle Kingdom 14 in 2020, losing to Kazuchika Okada on the first night, and then Jay White on night two.
While he did have championship success in early 2020, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi, he would eventually set his sights on winning the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental titlesnote and "becoming God"note . On October 18, 2020, he won the 2020 G1 Climax, making him the third person after Masahiro Chono and Hiroyoshi Tenzan to win it back to back. Although he dropped the G1 briefcase to Jay White the following month, Naito still insisted on putting his titles on the line against Ibushi on night one of Wrestle Kingdom 15, with the winner defending both belts against White on the second night.
On January 4th, 2021, Ibushi finally achieved his goal, defeating Naito for the titles in a hard-fought match and finally earning his longtime rival's respect. He successfully defended the titles the following night against Jay White, overcoming an unfavorable head-to-head record and the typical Bullet Club antics. Once in possession of both the "greatest" titlenote and the "strongest" titlenote , he eventually convinced NJPW to unify the belts after the annual Anniversary show on March 4th, 2021, becoming recognized as the first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
- The Ace: He embodies pretty much all the facets of puroresu: he's handsome, a superb shoot-stylist, a top high-flyer, a strong powerhouse and a talented comedy wrestler.
- Ambiguously Gay: In particular, his complicated relationship with Kenny Omega. The two have managed to keep the hype for an eventual high-profile match at nuclear levels due to their mutual pining both in interviews and on social media. This has continued to a certain extent after Omega left for AEW, and Ibushi signed on with NJPW fully. A notable example is an interview where he compared his relationship with Kenny to the highly acclaimed Japanese animated movie Your Name, which is definitely a romance story. In fact, it's a destined, star-crossed lovers kind of story.
- In the Toryumon circuit, the Aagan Iisou and STONED stables.
- In DDT, HARASHIMA, Sanshiro Takagi and Danshoku Dino have been his most frequent opponents.
- In NJPW, Jay White has pretty much become this, especially after taking the G1 right-to-challenge contact from him after the 2020 G1 Climax.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- Ibushi is pretty much the puroresu incarnation of this trope; he's generally a laid-back, fun-loving face, but push him too far, and he'll start beating the holy hell out of his opponent until the referee pulls him away.
- For a specific example, see his match with Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 14 Night One. Upon being pushed too far, Ibushi no-sold Okada's shots and proceeded to punch and kick the hell out of Okada to the point that it wasn't even wrestling, he was just beating him.
- Bishōnen: He was once part of Fighting Opera HUSTLE's Ikemen division ("ikemen" meaning "handsome"). It stuck with him, as Kenny once called him his ikemen partner.
- Breakup Break Out:
- He used to team up with the many incarnations of Takuya Sugi, whom he rivaled for the spot of the top high-flyer in Japan. With the years, however, Ibushi skyrocketed in DDT and NJPW while Sugi became an inconsistent journeyman and faded to darkness.
- With his victories in the 2019 and 2020 G1, and his double-title win at Wrestle Kingdom 15, he could definitely be considered this for the Golden☆Lovers, from an NJPW perspective at least.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ibushi is a bit of an oddball. He enjoys jumping off of high places, wrestling inanimate objects, wrestling in strange places, and shooting fireworks. Oh, not in the air, but at other people and himself. He also has a terrible sense of direction and tends to get lost almost immediately whenever he goes to a new place. But despite all his quirks he has amazing talent.
- Catchphrase: In 2020, "I won't run away, I won't lose, I won't give up, I won't betray you! I will become God!"
- Combination Attack:
- The Golden☆Lovers' finisher, "Golden Shower" - Ibushi and Omega perform simultaneous 450° splashes off of the same turnbuckle.
- They introduced the "Golden Trigger" - a two-man version of the Kamigoye - when they reunited in 2018.
- Commuting on a Bus: During his 2013-2016 deal with both DDT and NJPW. He didn't fully commit to NJPW until 2019, maintaining his freelancer status to allow him the freedom to go where his muse leads.
- Finishing Move: The Phoenix Splash (corkscrew 450º splash and variations), Phoenix-Plex (bridging package reverse powerbomb), Kamigoye (a wrist-lock knee strike, debuted in 2017), Last Ride (an elevated powerbomb, like The Undertaker, except Ibushi lands in a sitout position). He once used a corkscrew 630º senton too.
- Foil: To Takuya Sugi. Both of them are sick high-flyers and former vassals to Taiji Ishimori, but their similarities end right there: Sugi has played a long list of gimmicks, always wrestles while masked and heavily clothed, uses a lucharesu style, plays both face and heel, and has gone mostly as a minor cult wrestler through the years; meanwhile, Ibushi goes under his real name, wrestles in tights, uses an American indy psychology with a touch of shoot-style, has never been a heel, and is one of the most decorated and known juniors in the world.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Suffered one in the middle of the G1 Climax 31 finals, legitimately dislocating his shoulder after crash landing on a missed Phoenix Splash and causing the match to be stopped and the trophy awarded to Okada.
- Genius Ditz: Is a phenomenal athlete, but whether he uses his skills to main event or to fire fireworks off his chest and moonsault of cars is up to his whims.
- Heroes "R" Us: Along with Little Dragon, Milanito Collection a.t. and some others, Ibushi formed part of Taiji Ishimori's entourage in the short-lived Dragondoor. Subverted at core level, however, because although Ishimori was supposed to be the hero of the promotion, the crowds preferred the bad guys over him.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: He has never played a conventional heel, and even at its angriest he comes off as a honest sportsman without any nasty streak.
- I Know Karate: And kickboxing too. He was even set to debut in K-1 at one point and trained under K-1 referee Atsushi Onari at his Taisei Juku Fighting Sports Club.
- Lightning Bruiser: Can perform both elevated powerbombs and 450º splashes.
- Mad Artist: Watch any of his DDT matches and it becomes clear that Kota is the wrestling equivalent of this.
- Master of All: Name any aspect of pro wrestling in Japan and he can do it.
- Mr. Fanservice: Comes with being handsome, athletic and stylish.
- Non-Idle Rich:
- Real life example: Ibushi comes from a wealthy family in Japan. He got into professional wrestling at age 22 solely because he desired to do so, and his family has been supportive of this ever since. His personal wealth probably paid a role in his staying freelance for so long; he didn't need a regular contract to make ends meet.
- His fashion choices outside the ring certainly reflect this; check out Ibushi Style to see what he's wearing, most of it designer and in no way cheap.
- No-Sell: In his Cruiseweight Champioinship match against Brian kendrick, he ends up kicking out of the BURNING HAMMER. For reference, this move is so dangerous that not only is it used to end a match, but the creator of said move only used it seven times.
- Not Himself: When hurt badly enough or when he's angry enough, he enters a fugue state where he shrugs off all attacks and will hit anyone coming at him hard enough to knock them out. This is usually signified by Ibushi slowly focusing on whoever attacked him, and his face becoming entirely emotionless.
- The Power of Love: In HUSTLE, Liosazer (played by Ibushi) asked the audience's children for cheers to dispel Generalissimo Takada's mind control on Riser Guren, which they did.
- Power Stable:
- Taiji Ishimori's Dragondoor Seikigun stable.
- The HUSTLE Kamen Rangers, also part of the HUSTLE Army.
- Joined one mid-2018, forming a group with his partner Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks called the Golden☆Elite.
- Despite the other three being a part of the Bullet Club Elite, Ibushi never considered himself a member, still teaming up with BC Elite member Chase Owens on numerous occasions. Owens has since returned to the "OGBC", so they're definitely not on the same side anymore.
- Red Baron: "Golden☆Star"
- Signature Move: The Lawn Dart (a powerslam positioned toss headfirst into the middle turnbuckle), his palm strikes and kicks, standing moonsault variations, and recently started using the Boma-Ye.
- Token Good Teammate: To his Bullet Club (Elite) partners during tag team matches during the Bullet Club Civil War. He didn't engage in gang-ups and cheap tactics like knocking opponents off the apron. He didn't recognise how to return the Too Sweet gesture either.
- Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Faced Yoshihiko regularly in DDT, including title defenses. "Yoshihiko" is a blow-up sex doll made up to look like a wrestler. Not exactly a five-star match with a broomstick, but pretty close...
- Worthy Opponent:
- His first one was probably Takuya Sugi, the only other high-flyer in Japan who could rival Ibushi. They used to team up in Toryumon circuit, but otherwise wrestled each other if there weren't members of Aagan Iisou or STONED nearby.
- Later Hiroshi Tanahashi and Shinsuke Nakamura, both of whom Ibushi said were influences to him. Ibushi has stated that he wants to raise the prestige of the IC belt, much as his wrestling "gods" Nakamura and Tanahashi have done before. Tanahashi in particular thought Ibushi could be a major star if he stepped up and away from Omega, and considering his run of success after committing to NJPW, Ibushi appears to have proven the Ace right.
- More recently, Tetsuya Naito. The two have history from their junior days, and have both stated they enjoy going up against each other. After their title match at Wrestle Kingdom 15, Naito would hand Ibushi the titles and raise his arm, in a show of respect.