IWGP Heavyweight Championship

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IWGP Heavyweight Championship
Kazuchika Okada with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship belt in a wrestling ring
Four-time and current champion Kazuchika Okada with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt
Details
Promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)
Date established June 12, 1987
Current champion(s) Kazuchika Okada
Date won June 19, 2016

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.[3] 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.[4][5]

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.[6][7] Angle later lost the belt in a unification match to the NJPW-recognized champion Shinsuke Nakamura in 2008.

Overall, there have been 65 reigns shared among 27 wrestlers. Title changes happen at NJPW-promoted events. Six non-Japanese wrestlers have held the title.[8] 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 fourth reign, after defeating Tetsuya Naito on June 19, 2016, at NJPW's Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall event to win the title.

Title history[edit]

# 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 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 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 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 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 [9]
26 Kensuke Sasaki/Power Warrior 2 January 4, 2000 279 Tokyo, Japan Wrestling World 2000 5
Vacated October 9, 2000 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 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. [10]
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 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 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 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 [11]
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 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 280 Osaka, Japan Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall 3
64 Naito, TetsuyaTetsuya Naito 1 April 10, 2016 70 Tokyo, Japan Invasion Attack 2016 1
65 Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada 4 June 19, 2016 99+ Osaka, Japan Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall 0

Combined reigns[edit]

Hiroshi Tanahashi posing with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship belt in front of a crowd.
Hiroshi Tanahashi has held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship seven times

As of September 26, 2016.

Indicates the current champion
Rank Wrestler No. of
reigns
Combined
defenses
Combined
days
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 Okada, KazuchikaKazuchika Okada 4 13 895+
5 Fujinami, TatsumiTatsumi Fujinami 6 13 785
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 Naito, TetsuyaTetsuya Naito 1 1 70
22 Sapp, BobBob Sapp 1 1 66
23 Yasuda, TadaoTadao Yasuda 1 1 48
Hashimikov, SalmanSalman Hashimikov 1 0 48
25 Nakanishi, ManabuManabu Nakanishi 1 0 45
26 Chono, MasahiroMasahiro Chono 1 0 44
27 Tenryu, GenichiroGenichiro Tenryu 1 0 25

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ 永田 やるぞ!IWGP50歳で戴冠!!. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). January 31, 2015. Retrieved January 9, 2016. 
  2. ^ 新日本・中邑、米WWE移籍へ. Daily Sports Online (in Japanese). Kobe Shimbun. January 8, 2016. Retrieved January 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ "WK9 101: The Intro". Global Force Wrestling. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  4. ^ "History of the IWGP Heavyweight Title". Official Website of the Inoki Dojo. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  5. ^ Molinaro, John F. "Vader rejuvenated in Japan". Slam! Sports. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-03-26. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ ""新IWGP王者"AJスタイルズに直撃! 「もう誰にもIWGPを渡す気はない!俺が"カネの雨"を降らせるから心配するな!」". New Japan Pro Wrestling (in Japanese). 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2015-05-06. 
  9. ^ Molinaro, John (1999-12-11). "Tenryu wins IWGP Heavyweight title". SLAM! Sports: Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-06-27. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ "NJPW Explosion '07 official results" (in Japanese). NJPW.co.jp. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 

External links[edit]