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Liam DunneApril 10th, 2016NewsComments Off on New IWGP Heavyweight Champion Crowned!

New IWGP Heavyweight Champion Crowned!

Whilst some western fans may be aware of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship over in Japan, they may not realise just how much of a big deal a championship change is. It’s been acknowledged that AJ Styles, who has only been in the WWE a few months, is a former two time champion, and arguably earned his name carrying the championship belt, but the recently debuted Shinsuke Nakamura is also a former champion in his own right, as is Vader and a little known wrestler by Brock Lesnar, I think he had a match with Heath Slater once… hey, sometimes WWE drops the ball on these guys!

Unlike the west, and particularly with WWE, Championships aren’t treated as props in Japan, but a legitimate prestige that lets the audience know when a wrestler has “arrived”. Championship reigns last months, if not years. There have been 5 championship changes in 3 years alone (for comparison, in the same time frame the WWE World Heavyweight Championship has changed hands 14 times).


The champion going into Invasion Attack, Kazuchika Okada, just came off a big win at the start of the year, successfully defending the championship against multiple-time champion and New Japan’s top guy, Hiroshi Tanahashi, for the first time. After overcoming his next opponent, Hirooki Goto, at the New Beginning in Osaka event in February, it was time for his next challenger to be decided; and so, the New Japan Cup tournament was held. The winner was Tetsuya Naito, head of the Los Ingobernables de Japon faction, now infamous for his cocky attitude and callousness towards fans and opponents alike. Claiming to not only challenge Okada, but also challenging both the booker and the owner of NJPW, Gedo and Takaaki Kidani respectively, Tetsuya Naito went into the match with one goal in mind.

In the match, the surprise debut of former TNA star Seiya Sanada would cost Okada his championship, with the newest member of Los Ingobernables attacking the champion, leading to Naito getting the victory, and his first reign as IWGP Heavyweight champion. This led to Naito attacking the referee, thanking the fans, and announcing that Los Ingobernables has now taken over the promotion. Leaving the title belt he just won in the ring, he made his exit with his fellow stablemates.

It is worth noting that Naito, several years ago, was being pushed as the company’s biggest babyface, much akin to our very own Roman Reigns. Just like over here, the fans turned on the squeaky clean character, voting him out of the main event that he earned from winning the G1 Climax tournament, so he turned heel and, over the past year, has become one of the biggest stars in Japan… maybe WWE could learn something from this?


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