NJPW Merges IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships

Last night on Night Two of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Castle Attack event, we saw the end of an era. Tetsuya Naito failed to take the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Kota Ibushi in an epic main event encounter. Following this, Kota Ibushi was finally able to do what he wanted since after Wrestle Kingdom 15. Instead of carrying two championships, he wanted to merge them and start a new legacy. Now, news from Tokyo Sports indicates that this has finally happened.

Kota Ibushi Is The First IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

Following Castle Attack, the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental are now officially unified to make the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. This will even come with a new title belt, which is expected to be revealed as soon as the coming press conference tomorrow. We all knew this was coming when Tetsuya Naito was unable to defeat Ibushi. There was no challengers left, and it was time for the belt to be retired.

The big shock here is the news of a new belt overall. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship is an iconic design, and hopefully the new belt falls in line with the classic design, just adding in the new ‘World’ part of the name. This current design has been in use since 1987.

The Legacy Of The IWGP Intercontinental Championship

While this has been a long time coming due to a glut of belts in the promotion, it will be hard to not miss the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. It was around for 10 years, with the first champion being MVP of WWE fame. It would go on to be held by everyone from Shinsuke Nakamura, to Hiroshi Tanahashi, and even Chris Jericho. Tetsuya Naito famously broke the original title belt, forcing NJPW to replace the belt in 2017.

Shinsuke Nakamura will forever hold the record of most reigns at five, and most days at 901 combined. He also holds the record of defenses at 17, with Naito having the second most at 8. It was Nakamura who made this belt worth a damn, even taking it to the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. But now the NEVER Openweight and IWGP United States Championship titles fill that same niche.

Are you sad to see the IWGP Intercontinental Championship be merged into the Heavyweight title? Let us know what you think in the comment section down below.

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Hiroshi TanahashiKota IbushiNew Japan Pro WrestlingNJPWShinsuke NakamuraTetsuya Naito
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