IWGP Heavyweight Championship

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IWGP Heavyweight Championship
AJ Styles IWGP Heavyweight Champion.jpg
A.J. Styles, the current holder of the title, with the belt in May 2014.
Details
Current champion(s) A.J. Styles
Date won May 3, 2014
Date established June 12, 1987
Promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling

The International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) Heavyweight Championship is the top professional wrestling title in Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). It was created in 1987 with NJPW founder Antonio Inoki defeating Masa Saito in the finals of the annual IWGP tournament.[1][2]

Throughout the history of the championship, several wrestlers have been forced to relinquish the title due to an inability to participate in title defenses. When a wrestler has been injured or unable to compete for other reasons, tournaments have been held to determine the new champion.[3][4]

In 2006, then-champion Brock Lesnar was stripped of the title for being unable to defend it; however, Lesnar claims he was owed money by NJPW and kept the physical belt. He signed with Antonio Inoki's Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in 2007, losing the championship to Kurt Angle on the inaugural broadcast.[5][6] Angle later lost the belt in a unification match to the NJPW-recognized champion Shinsuke Nakamura in 2008.

Title reigns are determined either by professional wrestling matches featuring wrestlers involved in pre-existing scripted feuds, plots and storylines or by other scripted circumstances, where wrestlers were awarded the title. Wrestlers are portrayed as either villains or fan favorites as they followed a series of tension-building events, which culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches for the championship. The inaugural champion was Antonio Inoki, who beat Masa Saito on June 12, 1987. Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tatsumi Fujinami share the record for most reigns with six. Shinya Hashimoto's 489 days is the longest reign in the title's history. Shinsuke Nakamura is the youngest champion at 23 years and 288 days, while Genichiro Tenryu is the oldest champion at 49 years and 311 days. Overall, there have been a total of 26 recognized champions, who have had a combined 60 official reigns.


Title history[edit]

Key
Reign The reign number for the specific set of wrestlers listed.
Event The event promoted by the respective promotion in which the title was won
Successful defenses The number of successful defenses the champion had during his reign
N/A The specific information is not known
Used for vacated reigns in order to not count it as an official reign

Statistics correct as of August 22, 2014

# Wrestler Reign Date Days
held
Location Event Successful defenses Notes
1 Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki 1 June 12, 1987 325 Tokyo, Japan Summer Big Fight Series 1987 4 Defeated Masa Saito in a tournament final.
Vacated 1 May 2, 1988 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to Inoki fracturing his left foot.
2 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 1 May 8, 1988 19 Tokyo, Japan Super Fight Series 1988 1 Defeated Big Van Vader.
Vacated 1 May 27, 1988 N/A Sendai, Japan N/A N/A Held up after a title defense against Riki Chōshū ended in a no contest.
3 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 2 June 24, 1988 285 Osaka, Japan IWGP Champion Series 1988 7 Defeated Riki Chōshū in a rematch.
Vacated 1 April 5, 1989 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated so the title could be decided in a tournament.
4 Big Van Vader 1 April 24, 1989 31 Tokyo, Japan Battle Satellite in Tokyo Dome 0 Defeated Shinya Hashimoto in a tournament final with Lou Thesz as the special referee.
5 Hashimikov, SalmanSalman Hashimikov 1 May 25, 1989 48 Osaka, Japan Battle Satellite 1989 in Osaka Dome 0
6 Chōshū, RikiRiki Chōshū 1 July 12, 1989 29 Osaka, Japan House show 0
7 Big Van Vader 2 August 10, 1989 374 Tokyo, Japan House show 4
8 Chōshū, RikiRiki Chōshū 2 August 19, 1990 129 Tokyo, Japan House show 1
9 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 3 December 26, 1990 22 Hamamatsu, Japan King of Kings 0
10 Big Van Vader 3 January 17, 1991 46 Yokohama, Japan New Year Dash 1991 0
11 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 4 March 4, 1991 306 Hiroshima, Japan Big Fight Series 1991 3
12 Chōshū, RikiRiki Chōshū 3 January 4, 1992 225 Tokyo, Japan Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome 4 This match was also for Chōshū's Greatest 18 Championship.
13 The Great Muta 1 August 16, 1992 400 Fukuoka, Japan G1 Climax Special 1992 5 This was also for Chōshū's Greatest 18 Championship.
14 Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto 1 September 20, 1993 196 Nagoya, Japan G1 Climax Special 1993 4
15 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 5 April 4, 1994 27 Hiroshima, Japan Battle Line Kyushu 0
16 Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto 2 May 1, 1994 367 Fukuoka, Japan Wrestling Dontaku 1994 9
17 Mutoh, KeijiKeiji Mutoh
(formerly The Great Muta)
2 May 3, 1995 246 Fukuoka, Japan Wrestling Dontaku 1995 5
18 Takada, NobuhikoNobuhiko Takada 1 January 4, 1996 116 Tokyo, Japan Wrestling World 1996 1
19 Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto 3 April 29, 1996 489 Tokyo, Japan Battle Formation 7
20 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 1 August 31, 1997 216 Yokohama, Japan Final Power Hall in Yokohama 3
21 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 6 April 4, 1998 126 Tokyo, Japan Antonio Inoki Retirement Show 2
22 Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono 1 August 8, 1998 44 Osaka, Japan Rising the Next Generation in Osaka Dome 0
Vacated 1 September 21, 1998 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to Chono's neck injury.
23 Norton, ScottScott Norton 1 September 23, 1998 103 Yokohama, Japan Big Wednesday 4 Defeated Yuji Nagata to win the vacant title.
24 Mutoh, KeijiKeiji Mutoh 3 January 4, 1999 340 Tokyo, Japan Wrestling World 1999 5
25 Tenryu, GenichiroGenichiro Tenryu 1 December 10, 1999 25 Osaka, Japan Battle Final 1999 0 [7]
26 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 2 January 4, 2000 279 Tokyo, Japan Wrestling World 2000 5
Vacated 1 October 9, 2000 N/A Tokyo, Japan N/A N/A Vacated after Sasaki lost a non-title match to Toshiaki Kawada at Do Judge!!.
27 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 3 January 4, 2001 72 Tokyo, Japan Wrestling World 2001 1 Defeated Toshiaki Kawada in a tournament final.
28 Norton, ScottScott Norton 2 March 17, 2001 23 Nagoya, Japan Hyper Battle 2001 0
29 Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita 1 April 9, 2001 270 Osaka, Japan Strong Style 2
Vacated 1 January 4, 2002 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to an injured achilles tendon.
30 Yasuda, TadaoTadao Yasuda 1 February 16, 2002 48 Tokyo, Japan Fighting Spirit 2002 1 Defeated Yuji Nagata in a tournament final.
31 Nagata, YujiYuji Nagata 1 April 5, 2002 392 Tokyo, Japan Toukon Special 10
32 Takayama, YoshihiroYoshihiro Takayama 1 May 2, 2003 185 Tokyo, Japan Ultimate Crush 3 Was also for Takayama's NWF Heavyweight Championship.[8]
33 Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan 1 November 3, 2003 36 Yokohama, Japan Yokohama Dead Out 0
34 Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura 1 December 9, 2003 58 Osaka, Japan Battle Final 2003 1 Defeated Yoshihiro Takayama to unify the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with the NWF Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 2004, at Wrestling World 2004.
Vacated 1 February 5, 2004 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to various injuries.
35 Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan 2 February 15, 2004 26 Tokyo, Japan Fighting Spirit 2004 1 Defeated Genichiro Tenryu in a tournament final.
36 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 4 March 12, 2004 16 Tokyo, Japan Hyper Battle 2004 0
37 Sapp, BobBob Sapp 1 March 28, 2004 66 Tokyo, Japan King of Sports 1
Vacated 1 June 2, 2004 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated after Sapp lost a K-1 fight to Kazuyuki Fujita.[2]
38 Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita 2 June 5, 2004 126 Osaka, Japan The Crush II 1 Defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the vacant title.
39 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 5 October 9, 2004 64 Tokyo, Japan Pro-Wrestlers Be Strongest 2
40 Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan 3 December 12, 2004 70 Nagoya, Japan Battle Final 2004 0
41 Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima 1 February 20, 2005 83 Tokyo, Japan New Year Gold Series 1 This match was also for Kojima's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship.
42 Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan 4 May 14, 2005 65 Tokyo, Japan Nexess VI 1
43 Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita 3 July 18, 2005 82 Sapporo, Japan Summer Fight Series 0
44 Lesnar, BrockBrock Lesnar 1 October 8, 2005 280 Tokyo, Japan Toukon Souzou New Chapter 3 This was a three–way match that also included Masahiro Chono.
Vacated 1 July 15, 2006 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to Lesnar being unable to defend the title because of "problems with a working visa". Lesnar refuses to turn over the championship belt, and later is recognized by the Inoki Genome Federation as their first champion, using the same belt.
45 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 1 July 17, 2006 270 Sapporo, Japan Circuit2006 Turbulence 4 Defeated Giant Bernard in a tournament final.
46 Nagata, YujiYuji Nagata 2 April 13, 2007 178 Osaka, Japan Circuit2007 New Japan Brave tour 2
47 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 2 October 8, 2007 88 Tokyo, Japan Explosion '07 1 [9]
48 Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura 2 January 4, 2008 114 Tokyo, Japan Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome 2 Defeated Kurt Angle on February 17, 2008 on the Circuit2008 New Japan Ism tour to unify the NJPW and IGF versions of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
49 Mutoh, KeijiKeiji Mutoh 4 April 27, 2008 252 Osaka, Japan Circuit2008 New Japan Brave tour 4
50 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 3 January 4, 2009 122 Tokyo, Japan Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome 3
51 Nakanishi, ManabuManabu Nakanishi 1 May 6, 2009 45 Tokyo, Japan Dissidence 0
52 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 4 June 20, 2009 58 Osaka, Japan Dominion 6.20 1
Vacated 1 August 17, 2009 N/A N/A N/A N/A Vacated due to Tanahashi fracturing his eye socket.
53 Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura 3 September 27, 2009 218 Kobe, Japan Circuit2009 New Japan Generation tour 6 Defeated Togi Makabe to win the vacant title.
54 Makabe, TogiTogi Makabe 1 May 3, 2010 161 Fukuoka, Japan Wrestling Dontaku 2010 3
55 Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima 2 October 11, 2010 85 Tokyo, Japan Destruction '10 1
56 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 5 January 4, 2011 404 Tokyo, Japan Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome 11
57 Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada 1 February 12, 2012 125 Osaka, Japan The New Beginning 2
58 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 6 June 16, 2012 295 Osaka, Japan Dominion 6.16 7
59 Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada 2 April 7, 2013 391 Tokyo, Japan Invasion Attack 8
60 Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles 1 May 3, 2014 111+ Fukuoka, Japan Wrestling Dontaku 2014 2

List of combined reigns[edit]

As of August 22, 2014

Key
Indicates the current champion
Hiroshi Tanahashi, a six-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, who shares the record for most reigns with Tatsumi Fujinami.
Rank Wrestler No. of reigns Combined
defenses
Combined
days
1 Mutoh, KeijiKeiji Mutoh 4 19 1,238
2 Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi 6 27 1,237
3 Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto 3 20 1,052
4 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 6 13 785
5 Sasaki, KensukeKensuke Sasaki 5 9 647
6 Nagata, YujiYuji Nagata 2 12 570
7 Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada 2 10 516
8 Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita 3 3 478
9 Big Van Vader 3 4 451
10 Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura 3 9 390
11 Chōshū, RikiRiki Chōshū 3 5 383
12 Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki 1 4 325
13 Lesnar, BrockBrock Lesnar 1 3 280
14 Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan 4 2 197
15 Takayama, YoshihiroYoshihiro Takayama 1 3 185
16 Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima 2 2 168
17 Makabe, TogiTogi Makabe 1 3 161
18 Norton, ScottScott Norton 2 4 126
19 Takada, NobuhikoNobuhiko Takada 1 1 116
20 Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles 1 2 111+
21 Sapp, BobBob Sapp 1 1 66
22 Hashimikov, SalmanSalman Hashimikov 1 0 48
22 Yasuda, TadaoTadao Yasuda 1 1 48
24 Nakanishi, ManabuManabu Nakanishi 1 0 45
25 Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono 1 0 44
26 Tenryu, GenichiroGenichiro Tenryu 1 0 25

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ "IWGP Heavyweight Championship title history". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  2. ^ a b "IWGP Heavyweight Championship title history". TitleHistories.com. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  3. ^ "History of the IWGP Heavyweight Title". Official Website of the Inoki Dojo. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  4. ^ Molinaro, John F. "Vader rejuvenated in Japan". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  5. ^ Martin, Adam (2007-06-28). "Brock Lesnar in Japan with IWGP Title; could defend against Kurt Angle". Wrestleview. Archived from the original on 2007-07-01. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  6. ^ Martin, Adam (2007-07-02). "Video online of Angle vs. Lesnar in Japan, Ask TNA Wrestling, TNA Today". Wrestleview. Archived from the original on 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  7. ^ Molinaro, John (1999-12-11). "Tenryu wins IWGP Heavyweight title". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  8. ^ Power Slam Staff (August 2003). "We are the Champions (as of July 8)". Power Slam Magazine (Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD). p. 15. 109. 
  9. ^ "NJPW Explosion '07 official results" (in Japanese). NJPW.co.jp. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 

External links[edit]