IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Titles are officially unified and Kota Ibushi is officially the first ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion (with new title belt), per Tokyo Sports
Wrestling legend Antonio Inoki, 77, is suffering from a rare heart condition, cardiac amyloidosis, according to the latest Wrestling Observer Radio.
I'm aware of that but it just SEEMS different to me this year because the title is actually on the line and there's actually a storyline (albeit a very short term one) leading into the match. It's usually a non title, all star game type match.they do the junior champ vs heavy champ every year it really doesn't mean anything.
History is better judged with a bit more distance in the rear-view mirror so I wouldn't say anything yet about today, but abolishing the IC belt after a decade does feel like a definitive marker for it. I personally consider the current era as having started from Okada's first IWGP title win, but could not have considered it such at the time given the initial response. What if at the time Okada never gains support from his first reign plus his work between then and his second win? What if his first reign winds up as his only reign because the response winds up as "yeah don't ever give him the title again please" (as seems to be the current perception of Evil's reign last year)? It took a couple years of establishing himself for me to be able to look back and say "okay New Beginning 2012 was definitely the start of this current period"Someone who has been watching New Japan Pro Wrestling for more than two years can be an accurate judge but a lot of talk on Wrestling Twitter about the titles merging marking the end of this era. Not only that but you got a current junior being the #1 title contender, very real possibility of Okada and Naito both being knocked out of the first round of New Japan Cup. To me, it does feel like 2021 is the first year of a rebuild, with all of the qualities (or lack thereof) that entails.
Oof. This x1000.NJPW....totally blew their easy lay up chance to crossover in North America in 2017-19.
I think Ibushi is a great choice as a guy to elevate and build around, although he's older than people think (he turns 39 in May, to Okada's 33). With Kenny gone and Tana winding down, Ibushi could be/could have been a great choice to be the next big Okada rival and have the two of them be the collective centerpiece for the next few years. That doesn't seem to be the road they're going down, but who knows.What the hell is wrong with Okada? Three years ago, I would have said he's got the best chance of any puro guy to crossover in North America since Muta. He should be (and probably still is) in the midst of his prime. Why the hell is he doing a wily veteran gimmick that's befitting of a guy 5 or 10 years older than him? I'm not sure if they ever should have stopped building the company around him. To me, Naito and Ibushi, they're like ice cream & French fries. Good treats to have but you don't want to build a meal around them. Okada is the steak. Maybe I should have eaten a bigger breakfast.
I've only been following NJPW casually for five years and really closely for past two years so Idk if they did the same thing with previous Young Lions classes but the commentary teams REALLY seem to be emphasizing how special this group is and how we could see them in main events in 3 to 5 years. Tsuji seems to be focal point of Tanahashi's matches moreso than previous Tana's young lion cheerleaders. Yuya has his ongoing mini feud with Suzuki.I'm very interested to see what happens when they start bringing in the next crop of Lions as main roster players. Ren Narita had a huge win against Dickinson last week, and he's going to be a star. Shota is going to be a top guy from everything he showed when he was a Lion. Tsuji, Yuya, and Gabriel Kidd all look great and to be players. Then you have the US Lions. Fredericks is going to be a top guy once he can travel. Clark Connors is a stud and just graduated. Jason Knight just started as a Lion and already looks amazing, and Alex Coughlin is back from injury and looked great at Bloodsport.
Great O-I feel like they were saying that about the class from 3-4 years ago as well and so far all we've gotten out of that is Master Watto, Great-O-Carny and a seemingly can't miss prospect who's already out of the biz