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IWGP Heavyweight Championship
IWGP Heavy
Details
Current Champion(s) Kazuchika Okada
Kazuchika Okada IWGP
Date Won June 19, 2016
Promotion(s) New Japan Pro Wrestling
Ring of Honor (ROH)
Date Established June 12, 1987


The IWGP Heavyweight Championship is a the top singles championship in 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.

OverviewEdit

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 65 reigns shared among 27 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.

Title historyEdit

# Wrestlers Reign Date Length Location Successful defenses Notes
1 Antonio Inoki 1

June 12, 1987

325 Days Tokyo 4 Inoki defeated Masa Saito in a tournament final.
Vacated May 2, 1988 Due to Inoki fracturing his left foot.
2 Tatsumi Fujinami 1 May 8, 1988 19 Days Tokyo 1 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 Tatsumi Fujinami 2 June 24, 1988 285 Days Osaka 7 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 Days Tokyo 0 Vader defeated Shinya Hashimoto in a tournament final to win the vacant title.
5 Salman Hashimikov 1 May 25, 1989 48 Days Osaka 0
6 Riki Choshu 1 July 12, 1989 29 Days Osaka 0
7 Big Van Vader 2 August 10, 1989 374 Days Tokyo 4
8 Riki Choshu 2 August 19, 1990 129 Days Tokyo 1
9 Tatsumi Fujinami 3 December 26, 1990 22 Days Hamamatsu 0
10 Big Van Vader 3 January 17, 1991 46 Days Yokohama 0
11 Tatsumi Fujinami 4 March 4, 1991 306 Days Hiroshima 3
12 Riki Choshu 3 January 4, 1992 225 Days Tokyo 4 This match was also for Choshu's Greatest 18 Championship.
13 The Great Muta 1 August 16, 1992 400 Days Fukuoka 5 This was also for Choshu's Greatest 18 Championship.
14 Shinya Hashimoto 1 September 20, 1993 196 Days Nagoya 4
15 Tatsumi Fujinami 5 April 4, 1994 27 Days Hiroshima 0
16 Shinya Hashimoto 2 May 1, 1994 367 Days Fukuoka 9
17 Keiji Mutoh 2 May 3, 1995 246 Days Fukuoka 5 Mutoh previously won the title as The Great Muta.
18 Nobuhiko Takada 1 January 4, 1996 116 Days Tokyo 1
19 Shinya Hashimoto 3 April 29, 1996 489 Days Tokyo 7
20 Kensuke Sasaki 1 August 31, 1997 216 Days Yokohama 3
21 Tatsumi Fujinami 6 April 4, 1998 126 Days Tokyo 2
22 Masahiro Chono 1 August 8, 1998 44 Days Osaka 0
Vacated September 21, 1998 Due to Chono's neck injury.
23 Scott Norton 1 September 23, 1998 103 Days Yokohama 4 Defeated Yuji Nagata to win the vacant title.
24 Keiji Mutoh 3 January 4, 1999 340 Days Tokyo 5
25 Genichiro Tenryu 1 December 10, 1999 25 Days Osaka 0
26 Kensuke Sasaki/Power Warrior 2 January 4, 2000 279 Days Tokyo 0
Vacated October 9, 2000 Vacated after Sasaki lost a non-title match to Toshiaki Kawada at Do Judge!!.
27 Kensuke Sasaki 3 January 4, 2001 72 Days Tokyo 1 Defeated Toshiaki Kawada in a tournament final to win the vacant title.
28 Scott Norton 2 March 17, 2001 23 Days Nagoya 0
29 Kazuyuki Fujita 1 April 9, 2001 270 Days Osaka 2
Vacated January 4, 2002 Due to an injured achilles tendon.
30 Tadao Yasuda 1 February 16, 2002 48 Days Tokyo 1 Defeated Yuji Nagata in a tournament final to win the vacant title.
31 Yuji Nagata 1 April 5, 2002 392 Days Tokyo 10
32 Yoshihiro Takayama 1 May 2, 2003 185 Days Tokyo 3 This match was also for Takayama's NWF Heavyweight Championship.
33 Hiroyoshi Tenzan 1 November 3, 2003 36 Days Yokohama 0
34 Shinsuke Nakamura 1 December 9, 2003 58 Days Osaka 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 Due to Nakamura suffering various injuries.
35 Hiroyoshi Tenzan 2 February 15, 2004 26 Days Tokyo 1 Defeated Genichiro Tenryu in a tournament final for the vacant title.
36 Kensuke Sasaki 4 March 12, 2004 16 Days Tokyo 0
37 Bob Sapp 1 March 28, 2004 66 Days Tokyo 1
Vacated June 2, 2004 Title vacated after Sapp lost a K-1 fight to Kazuyuki Fujita.
38 Kazuyuki Fujita 2 June 5, 2004 126 Days Osaka 1 Defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi to win the vacant title.
39 Kensuke Sasaki 5 October 9, 2004 64 Days Tokyo 2
40 Hiroyoshi Tenzan 3 December 12, 2004 70 Days Nagoya 0
41 Satoshi Kojima 1 February 20, 2005 83 Days Tokyo 1 This match was also for Kojima's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship.
42 Hiroyoshi Tenzan 4 May 14, 2005 65 Days Tokyo 1
43 Kazuyuki Fujita 3 July 18, 2005 82 Days Sapporo 0
44 Brock Lesnar 1 October 8, 2005 280 Days Tokyo 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 Hiroshi Tanahashi 1 July 17, 2006 270 Days Sapporo 4 Defeated Giant Bernard in a tournament final and they returned to the 2nd version of the belt.
46 Yuji Nagata 2 April 13, 2007 178 Days Osaka 2
47 Hiroshi Tanahashi 2 October 8, 2007 88 Days Osaka 1
48 Shinsuke Nakamura 2 January 4, 2008 114 Days Tokyo 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 and two days later they showed the 4th version of the belt.
49 Keiji Mutoh 4 April 27, 2008 252 Days Osaka 4
50 Hiroshi Tanahashi 3 January 4, 2009 122 Days Tokyo 3
51 Manabu Nakanishi 1 May 6, 2009 45 Days Tokyo 0
52 Hiroshi Tanahashi 4 June 20, 2009 58 Days Osaka 1
Vacated August 17, 2009 Due to Tanahashi fracturing his eye socket.
53 Shinsuke Nakamura 3 September 27, 2009 218 Days Kobe 6 Defeated Togi Makabe to win the vacant title.
54 Togi Makabe 1 May 3, 2010 161 Days Fukuoka 3
55 Satoshi Kojima 2 October 11, 2010 85 Days Tokyo 1
56 Hiroshi Tanahashi 5 January 4, 2011 404 Days Tokyo 11
57 Kazuchika Okada 1 February 12, 2012 125 Days Osaka 2
58 Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 June 16, 2012 295 Days Osaka 7
59 Kazuchika Okada 2 April 7, 2013 391 Days Tokyo 8
60 A.J. Styles 1 May 3, 2014 163 Days Fukuoka 2
61 Hiroshi Tanahashi 7 October 13, 2014 121 Days Tokyo 1
62 A.J. Styles 2 February 11, 2015 144 Days Osaka 1
63 Kazuchika Okada 3 July 5, 2015 280 Days Osaka 3
64 Tetsuya Naito 1 April 10, 2016 70 Days Tokyo 1
65 Kazuchika Okada 4 June 19, 2016 462+ Osaka 7

GalleryEdit

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