IWGP Heavyweight Championship
|IWGP Heavyweight Championship|
Current champion Kazuchika Okada with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt
|Current champion(s)||Kazuchika Okada|
|Date won||July 5, 2015|
|Date established||June 12, 1987|
|Promotion||New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)|
The IWGP Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling heavyweight championship owned by the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the acronym of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix. The title was introduced on June 12, 1987 in the finals of a IWGP tournament. Being a professional wrestling championship, the title is won as a result of a predetermined outcome.
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.
In 2006, 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, and lost the championship to Kurt Angle on the inaugural broadcast. Angle later lost the belt in a unification match to the NJPW-recognized champion Shinsuke Nakamura in 2008.
Overall, there have been 63 reigns shared among 26 wrestlers. Title changes happen at NJPW-promoted events. Six non-Japanese wrestlers have held the title. The inaugural champion was Inoki, who defeated Masa Saito on June 12, 1987 in a tournament final. Hiroshi Tanahashi holds the record for most reigns, with 7. At 489 days, Shinya Hashimoto's third reign is the longest in the title's history. Tanahashi, with a combined 7 reigns, holds the record for most days as champion at 1,358. Kensuke Sasaki's fourth reign holds the record for shortest reign at 16 days. With 11 successful defenses, Tanahashi's fifth reign had the most during a single reign. Over his 7 reigns, Tanahashi successfully defended the title 28 times, the most of any champion. With zero, Big Van Vader's first and third reigns, Salman Hashimikov's only reign, Riki Choshu's first reign, Tatsumi Fujinami's third and fifth reigns, Masahiro Chono's only reign, Genichiro Tenryu's only reign, Scott Norton's second reign, Hiroyoshi Tenzan's first and third reigns, Kensuke Sasaki's fourth reign, Kazuyuki Fujita's third reign, and Manabu Nakanishi's only reign are all tied for least successful defenses. Kazuchika Okada is the current champion in his third reign, after defeating A.J. Styles on July 5, 2015, at NJPW's Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall event to win the title.
|#||Order in reign history|
|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|
|—||Used for vacated reigns so as not to count it as an official reign|
|N/A||The information is not available or is unknown|
|+||Indicates the current reign is changing daily|
|#||Wrestlers||Reign||Date||Days held||Location||Event||Successful defenses||Notes||Ref(s).|
|1||Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki||1||June 12, 1987||325||Tokyo, Japan||Summer Big Fight Series 1987||4||Inoki defeated Masa Saito in a tournament final.|
|—||Vacated||—||May 2, 1988||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||Fujinami defeated Big Van Vader to win the vacant title.|
|—||Vacated||—||May 27, 1988||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title held up after defense against Riki Choshu ended in a no contest.|
|3||Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami||2||June 24, 1988||285||Osaka, Japan||IWGP Champion Series 1988||7||Fujinami defeated Riki Choshu to win the vacant title.|
|—||Vacated||—||April 5, 1989||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||Vader defeated Shinya Hashimoto in a tournament final to win the vacant title.|
|5||Hashimikov, SalmanSalman Hashimikov||1||May 25, 1989||48||Osaka, Japan||Battle Satellite 1989 in Osaka Dome||0|
|6||Choshu, RikiRiki Choshu||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||Choshu, RikiRiki Choshu||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||Choshu, RikiRiki Choshu||3||January 4, 1992||225||Tokyo, Japan||Super Warriors in Tokyo Dome||4||This match was also for Choshu's Greatest 18 Championship.|
|13||The Great Muta||1||August 16, 1992||400||Fukuoka, Japan||G1 Climax Special 1992||5||This was also for Choshu'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||2||May 3, 1995||246||Fukuoka, Japan||Wrestling Dontaku 1995||5||Mutoh previously won the title as The Great Muta.|
|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||—||September 21, 1998||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title was vacated due to Chono's neck injury.|
|23||Norton, ScottScott Norton||1||September 23, 1998||103||Yokohama, Japan||Big Wednesday||4||Norton 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|||
|26||Kensuke Sasaki/Power Warrior||2||January 4, 2000||279||Tokyo, Japan||Wrestling World 2000||5|
|—||Vacated||—||October 9, 2000||N/A||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||Sasaki defeated Toshiaki Kawada in a tournament final to win the vacant title.|
|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||—||January 4, 2002||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Fujita vacated the title due to an injured achilles tendon.|
|30||Yasuda, TadaoTadao Yasuda||1||February 16, 2002||48||Tokyo, Japan||Fighting Spirit 2002||1||Yasuda defeated Yuji Nagata in a tournament final to win the vacant title.|
|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||This match was also for Takayama's NWF Heavyweight Championship.|||
|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||Nakamura defeated Yoshihiro Takayama to unify the IWGP Heavyweight Championship with the NWF Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 2004 at Wrestling World 2004.|
|—||Vacated||—||February 5, 2004||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title was vacated due to Nakamura suffering various injuries.|
|35||Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan||2||February 15, 2004||26||Tokyo, Japan||Fighting Spirit 2004||1||Tenzan defeated Genichiro Tenryu in a tournament final for the vacant title.|
|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||—||June 2, 2004||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title vacated after Sapp lost a K-1 fight to Kazuyuki Fujita.|
|38||Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita||2||June 5, 2004||126||Osaka, Japan||The Crush II||1||Fujita 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|
|—||Vacated||—||July 15, 2006||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title was 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||Tanahashi defeated Giant Bernard in a tournament final for the title.|
|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|||
|48||Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura||2||January 4, 2008||114||Tokyo, Japan||Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome||2||Nakamura 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||—||August 17, 2009||N/A||N/A||N/A||—||Title 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||Nakamura 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||163||Fukuoka, Japan||Wrestling Dontaku 2014||2|
|61||Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi||7||October 13, 2014||121||Tokyo, Japan||King of Pro-Wrestling||1|
|62||Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles||2||February 11, 2015||144||Osaka, Japan||The New Beginning in Osaka||1|
|63||Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada||3||July 5, 2015||215+||Osaka, Japan||Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall||2|
As of February 5, 2016.
|†||Indicates the current champion|
|1||Tanahashi, HiroshiHiroshi Tanahashi||7||28||1,358|
|2||Keiji Mutoh/The Great Muta||4||19||1,238|
|3||Hashimoto, ShinyaShinya Hashimoto||3||20||1,052|
|4||Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami||6||13||785|
|5||Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada †||3||12||731+|
|6||Kensuke Sasaki/Power Warrior||5||9||647|
|7||Nagata, YujiYuji Nagata||2||12||570|
|8||Fujita, KazuyukiKazuyuki Fujita||3||3||478|
|9||Big Van Vader||3||4||451|
|10||Nakamura, ShinsukeShinsuke Nakamura||3||9||390|
|11||Choshu, RikiRiki Choshu||3||5||383|
|12||Inoki, AntonioAntonio Inoki||1||4||325|
|13||Styles, A.J.A.J. Styles||2||3||307|
|14||Lesnar, BrockBrock Lesnar||1||3||280|
|15||Tenzan, HiroyoshiHiroyoshi Tenzan||4||2||197|
|16||Takayama, YoshihiroYoshihiro Takayama||1||3||185|
|17||Kojima, SatoshiSatoshi Kojima||2||2||168|
|18||Makabe, TogiTogi Makabe||1||3||161|
|19||Norton, ScottScott Norton||2||4||126|
|20||Takada, NobuhikoNobuhiko Takada||1||1||116|
|21||Sapp, BobBob Sapp||1||1||66|
|22||Yasuda, TadaoTadao Yasuda||1||1||48|
|22||Hashimikov, SalmanSalman Hashimikov||1||0||48|
|24||Nakanishi, ManabuManabu Nakanishi||1||0||45|
|25||Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono||1||0||44|
|26||Tenryu, GenichiroGenichiro Tenryu||1||0||25|
- A. ^ Each wrestler's total number of days as champion is ranked highest to lowest; wrestlers with the same number are tied for that certain rank.
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