NEVER Openweight Championship
Current Champion(s) Hirooki Goto
Date Won June 17, 2018
Promotion(s) New Japan Pro Wrestling
Date Established October 5, 2012

The NEVER Openweight Championship is a tertiary singles championship in the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. NEVER is an acronym of the terms "New Blood", "Evolution", "Valiantly", "Eternal", and "Radical" and was a NJPW-promoted series of events, which featured younger up-and-coming talent and outside wrestlers not signed to the promotion. The project was officially announced on July 12, 2010, and held its first event on August 24, 2010. On October 5, 2012, NJPW announced that NEVER was going to get its own championship, the NEVER Openweight Championship, the promotion's sixth active title.

The title was originally scheduled to be defended exclusively at NEVER events, but this plan was quickly changed and since its foundation, the title has been defended on the undercards of NJPW events. The original concept of having younger workers wrestle for the title has also not been realized with all six holders of the title having been in their thirties or forties. Though named an "openweight" championship, NJPW has also categorized the title as one of the promotion's four heavyweight titles, alongside the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Together, the NEVER Openweight, IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships also form what has been called the "New Japan Triple Crown" (新日本トリプルクラウン, Shin Nihon Toripuru Kuraun).

Overview Edit

On October 5, 2012, over two years after the founding of NEVER, New Japan Pro Wrestling announced the creation of the project's first championship, the NEVER Openweight Championship. The title was originally created with the idea of using it to "elevate younger wrestlers". The first champion was to be determined in a sixteen-man single-elimination tournament, which was set to take place November 15 and 19, 2012. The title and the tournament were announced by New Japan president Naoki Sugabayashi and NEVER regular Tetsuya Naito, who was scheduled to enter the tournament, but was forced to pull out after suffering a knee injury. Much like regular NEVER events, the tournament also featured wrestlers not signed to New Japan; freelancer Daisuke Sasaki; Hiro Tonai, Kengo Mashimo, Ryuichi Sekine, Shiori Asahi and Taishi Takizawa from Kaientai Dojo, and Masato Tanaka from Pro Wrestling Zero1. The entire first round of the tournament took place on November 15 and saw Shiori Asahi, Yoshi-Hashi, Taishi Takizawa, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tomohiro Ishii, Kengo Mashimo, Karl Anderson and Masato Tanaka advance. The rest of the tournament took place four days later. During the second round, Kengo Mashimo defeated Ryusuke Taguchi, Karl Anderson defeated Shiori Asahi, Masato Tanaka defeated Taishi Takizawa, Tomohiro Ishii defeated Yoshi-Hashi. The semifinals saw Anderson defeat Mashimo and Tanaka defeat Ishii. In the finals of the tournament, Tanaka, the 39-year-old, who, despite officially being affiliated with Pro Wrestling ZERO1, had worked for NJPW regularly since August 2009, defeated Anderson to become the inaugural NEVER Openweight Champion. Though the title was originally designed to be defended at NEVER events, NJPW has not held a single NEVER event since the championship tournament.

  First round
(November 15)
Second round
(November 19)
(November 19)
(November 19)
 Karl Anderson Pin  
 Yujiro Takahashi 11:12[1]  
   Karl Anderson Pin  
   Shiori Asahi 03:59[2]  
 Hiromu Takahashi Pin
 Shiori Asahi 06:14[1]  
   Karl Anderson Pin  
   Kengo Mashimo 06:14[2]  
 Ryusuke Taguchi Pin  
 Hiro Tonai 08:19[1]  
   Ryusuke Taguchi Sub
   Kengo Mashimo 07:54[2]  
 Kengo Mashimo 08:02[1]  
   Karl Anderson Pin
   Masato Tanaka 15:12[2]
 Kushida Pin  
 Masato Tanaka 13:02[1]  
   Masato Tanaka Pin
   Taishi Takizawa 04:28[2]  
 Captain New Japan Pin
 Taishi Takizawa 07:22[1]  
   Masato Tanaka Pin
   Tomohiro Ishii 10:47[2]  
 Tomohiro Ishii Pin  
 Daisuke Sasaki 08:39[1]  
   Tomohiro Ishii Pin
   Yoshi-Hashi 06:57[2]  
 Yoshi-Hashi Pin
 Ryuichi Sekine 07:14[1]  

Title history Edit

# Wrestler Reign Date Location Length Defenses Notes
1 Masato Tanaka 1 November 19, 2012 Tokyo, Japan 314 Days 4 Tanaka defeated Karl Anderson in the finals of a sixteen-man tournament to become the inaugural champion.
2 Tetsuya Naito 1 September 29, 2013 Kobe, Japan 135 Days 2
3 Tomohiro Ishii 1 February 11, 2014 Osaka, Japan 138 Days 4
4 Yujiro Takahashi 1 June 29, 2014 Tokyo, Japan 106 Days 1
5 Tomohiro Ishii 2 October 13, 2014 Tokyo, Japan 83 Days 1
6 Togi Makabe 1 January 4, 2015 Tokyo, Japan 41 Days 0
Vacated February 14, 2015 The title was vacated due to Makabe being sidelined with influenza.
7 Tomohiro Ishii 3 February 14, 2015 Sendai, Japan 74 Days 0 Ishii defeated Tomoaki Honma to win the vacant title.
8 Togi Makabe 2 April 29, 2015 Mashiki, Japan 166 Days 2
9 Tomohiro Ishii 4 October 12, 2015 Tokyo, Japan 84 Days 1
10 Katsuyori Shibata 1 January 4, 2016 Tokyo, Japan 120 Days 3
11 Yuji Nagata 1 May 3, 2016 Fukuoka, Japan 47 Days 0
12 Katsuyori Shibata 2 June 19, 2016 Osaka, Japan 139 Days 3
13 EVIL 1 November 05, 2016 Osaka 10 Days 0
14 Katsuyori Shibata 3 November 15, 2016 Singapore 50 Days 0
15 Hirooki Goto 1 January 04, 2017 Tokyo 113 Days 3
16 Minoru Suzuki 1 April 27, 2017 Hiroshima 252 Days 4
17 Hirooki Goto 2 January 4, 2018 Tokyo 156 Days 3 This was a Hair vs. Hair match.
18 Michael Elgin 1 June 9, 2018 Osaka 8 Days 0 This was a three-way match also including Taichi.
19 Hirooki Goto 3 June 17, 2018 Tokyo 61+ 1

Combined reignsEdit

Indicates the current champion
Rank Wrestler No. of
1 Tomohiro Ishii 4 6 379
2 Masato Tanaka 1 4 314
3 Katsuyori Shibata 3 6 309
4 Hirooki Goto2 7 330+
5 Minoru Suzuki 1 4 252
6 Togi Makabe 2 2 207
7 Tetsuya Naito 1 2 135
8 Yujiro Takahashi 1 1 106
9 Yuji Nagata 1 0 47
10 EVIL 1 0 10
11 Michael Elgin 1 0 8


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