Ever since ‘The Dragon’ Shingo Takagi made his debut for New Japan Pro Wrestling as part of Los Ignorables De Japon, people have been wondering how well he’d fit in. Takagi wasn’t trained in the NJPW dojo, having come up through the Dragon Gate training system, and spending several years as their top star. However, he’s proven to adapt very well to NJPW.
Almost too well. In 2020, he was the clear MVP of the year, having incredible matches with Minoru Suzuki over the NEVER Openweight Championship, a classic with Kazuchika Okada in the G1 Climax. He even had an excellent run in the World Tag League with SANADA as his partner. 2021 is looking even better, and now the question isn’t how well he’ll fit in, but what is his ceiling?
Only One Thing Is Potentially Holding Shingo Takagi Back From Being A Top Star
After his downright incredible match with Jeff Cobb from night two of Wrestle Kingdom 15, fans are already prepared for Shingo as IWGP Double Champion by the end of the year. However, longtime fans of NJPW are already seeing him land in a very familiar niche, that of Tomohiro Ishii.
They’re both incredibly hard hitting wrestlers who fit the mold of strong style to perfection, but came from outside systems, with Ishii having been trained by Riki Choshu outside of NJPW. Ask any of Ishii’s fans how they feel about how many times he’s been the star of a show and how much he deserves a reign at the top, and you’ll get many answers of disappointment.
Things are starting to change for the better in regards to this, as shown by Kota Ibushi becoming IWGP Double Champion at Wrestle Kingdom 15, and SANADA being a top challenger for Ibushi. Age could also be considered an issue, but he’s the same age as Ibushi, who has arguably more wear and tear than Takagi.
Turning The NEVER Openweight Championship Into A Much Bigger Deal
Even if Shingo never gets his time in the spotlight as IWGP Heavyweight Champion, he could have been tasked with a big role in his own right. Over the past year, he’s returned the NEVER Openweight Championship back to a high level after a string of short reigns. His defenses have been nothing short of amazing. He has also called out Hiroshi Tanahashi as a future challenger for 2021.
Kota Ibushi wants to absorb the IWGP Intercontinental Championship fully into the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, which would make the NEVER Openweight Championship the second highest prize in the company. Takagi could do for this title what Shinsuke Nakamura did for the Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura raised that belt so high, that it main evented Wrestle Kingdom 8 over the heavyweight championship.
Especially with a two day Wrestle Kingdom going forward? It’s not hard to see Shingo getting the NEVER belt to the main event. What do you think will prove to be the ceiling of Shingo Takagi in NJPW? Could he main event Tokyo Dome? Is he doomed to be Ishii 2.0? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.
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