There has been a bit of worry with fans of NJPW about the coming Wrestle Grand Slam in Tokyo Dome event. The main event has been set since Shingo Takagi won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship back in June, when Kota Ibushi stepped up to challenge him following the victory over Kazuchika Okada. This was a perfect main event, two of the best NJPW has to offer on their biggest stage. However more than ever, it’s looking like Ibushi is not going to make the match.
Kota Ibushi Has Aspiration Pneumonia
Ibushi has been sick over the following weeks, and has missed a handful of tag team matches meant to build towards the Tokyo Dome event. These would have seen him team with other unaligned wrestlers to face off with Shingo Takagi & other members of Los Ingobernables De Japon. Matches like these were easy enough to move around, but a major title match is harder. While it first it was assumed Ibushi was sick after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but a new update from NJPW now has the full story.
“Ibushi’s illness was originally reported as a result of side effects arising from his COVID-19 vaccination. Aspiration pneumonia has no connection to COVID vaccinations, and Ibushi’s illness is not a result of his inoculation. We apologise for any misunderstanding. Ibushi has also tested negative for COVID-19.
In order to give Ibushi more time to make a full in ring recovery, he will be absent from cards on July 22 and 23 in Osaka, as well as July 24 in Nagoya. A final decision on his participation at Wrestle Grand Slam on July 25 will be made after assessing Ibushi’s recovery.”
Who Could Shingo Takagi Face?
With such a small gap to decide a new challenger if Ibushi isn’t cleared on July 24th, NJPW might already be considering contenders. In NJPW, getting a title shot is as easy as pinning a champion in a tag team match sometimes, and this opens some chances to set up an opponent for Shingo over his next three matches.
However the only upcoming opponents are Tomoaki Honma & Master Wato. He teams with BUSHI to face them on July 22nd, 23rd, and 24th. Neither of these are Tokyo Dome level opponents, though Honma remains a fan favorite underdog veteran. This could leave NJPW stuck, though an option not seen on the current tour could be their best bet.
In 2020, Shingo Takagi had a fantastic feud with Minoru Suzuki over the NEVER Openweight Championship. They are two of the heaviest hitters the company has, and every match was fantastic. Add in that Suzuki has never claimed the top title in NJPW, and you can instantly put together a simple but effective story.
Do you think Shingo Takagi will need a last minute opponent for Tokyo Dome? Who would you want to see step up? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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