Title Tuesday #1: IWGP Heavyweight Championship

IWGPHeavyweightTItle

Hello ladies and gentlemen, I am your host, the Baumeister.  For many of us, we judge how good a wrestler’s legacy is based on how many titles they have, or haven’t won in their careers.  But, what about the heritage of those titles? That’s where we are going to look at here.  Not just who won the championship, where they won and how long they held it, but also interesting information unique to that championship’s history.

This week’s featured championship: IWGP Heavyweight Championship

  1. Antonio Inoki. Won June 12, 1987 at NJPW Summer Big Fight Series 1987-Day 25 in Tokyo, Japan; defeating Masa Saito in a tournament final. Held the title for 325 days.
    1. Vacated the title May 2, 1988 due to a foot injury.  Title is vacant for 6 days.
  2. Tatsumi Fujinami (1). Won May 8, 1988 at NJPW Super Fight Series 1988-Day 24 in Tokyo Japan;  defeating Big Van Vader. Held the title for 19 days.
    1. Vacated the title May 27, 1988 after fighting to a No Contest in a title defense against Riki Choshu. Title is vacant for 28 days.
  3. Tatsumi Fujinami (2). Won June 24, 1988 at NJPW Champion Series 1988-Day 28 in Osaka, Japan; defeating Riki Choshu. Held the title for 285 days.
    1. Vacated the title April 5, 1989 in order to be decided in a tournament. Title is vacant for 19 days.
    2. Won the WCWA World Heavyweight Championship at New Japan Cup Series 12/9/88 from Kerry Von Erich.  Vacated the title a day later under protest of how the match ended (via blood stoppage).
  4. Big Van Vader (1). Won April 24, 1989 at NJPW Battle Satellite in Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, defeating Shiny Hashimoto in a tournament final. Held the title for 31 days.
    1. The first gaijin to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
    2. Also the first IWGP Heavyweight Champion to lose the championship outright.
  5. Salman Hashimikov. Won May 25, 1989 at Battle Satellite 1989 in Osaka Dome in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 48 days.
  6. Riki Choshu: Won July 12, 1989 at NJPW @ Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 29 days.
  7. Big Van Vader (2). Won August 10, 1989 at NJPW @ Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 374 days.
  8. Riki Choshu (2). Won August 19, 1990 at NJPW @ Ryogoku Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 129 days.
  9. Tatsumi Fujinami (3). Won December 26, 1990 at NJPW King of Kings in Hamamatsu, Japan. Held the title for 22 days.
  10. Big Van Vader (3). Won January 17, 1991 at NJPW New Year Dash 1991-Day 11 in Yokohama, Japan. Held the title for 46 days.
  11. Tatsumi Fujinami (4). Won March 4, 1991 at NJPW Big Fight Series 1991-Day 2 in Hiroshima, Japan. Held the title for 306 days.
    1. Won the NWA World Heavyweight Championship at Starrcade 91 in Tokyo Dome March 21, 1991 from Ric Flair.  Lost the title at WCW SuperBrawl I to Ric Flair on May 19, 1991.
  12. Riki Choshu (3). Won January 4, 1992 at NJPW/WCW Starrcade 1992 in Tokyo Dome (Super Warriors in Tokyo Dome) in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 225 days.
    1. First IWGP Heavyweight Championship change at the January 4 Show.
    2. Choshu was also the Greatest 18 Champion at the time.
  13. The Great Muta (1): Won August 16, 1992 at NJPW G1 Climax Special 1992-Day 2 in Fukuoka, Japan. Held the title for 400 days.
    1. Won the NWA World Championship at NJPW Fantastic Story at Tokyo Dome vs Masahiro Chono on January 4, 1993. Lost the title to Barry Windham at WCW SuperBrawl III February 21, 1993
  14. Shinya Hashimoto: Won September 20, 1993 at NJPW G1 Climax Special 1993-Day 1 in Nagoya, Japan. Held the title for 196 days.
  15. Tatsumi Fujinami (5): Won April 4, 1994 at NJPW Battle Line Kyushu 1994-Day 2: Grand Cross in Hiroshima in Hiroshima, Japan.  Held the title for 27 days.
  16. Shinya Hashimoto (2); Won May 1, 1994 at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 1994 in Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Japan. Held the title for 367 days.
  17. The Great Muta (2); Won May 3, 1995 at Wrestling Dontaku 1995 in Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Japan. Held the title for 246 days.
  18. Nobuhiko Takada: Won January 4, 1996 at NJPW Wrestling World 1996 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 116 days.
    1. First title defense on a non-New Japan branded show (UWF-I High Tension March 1, 1996 in Tokyo, Japan vs Shiro Koshinaka)
  19. Shinya Hashimoto (3): Won April 29, 1996 at NJPW Battle Formation in Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 489 days.
    1. This title reign is the longest in IWGP Heavyweight Championship history.
  20. Kensuke Sasaki: Won August 31, 1997 at NJPW Final Power Hall in Yokohama in Yokohama, Japan. Held the title for 216 days.
  21. Tatsumi Fujinami (6): Won April 4, 1998 at NJPW The Final Inoki Tournament at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo Japan, Held the title for 126 days.
  22. Masahiro Chono: Won August 8, 1998 at NJPW Rising the Next Generation in Osaka Dome in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 44 days.
    1. Vacated the title September 21, 1998 due to a neck injury by Chono. Title is vacant for 4 days.
  23. Scott Norton: Won September 23, 1998 at NJPW G1 Climax Special 1988-Day 13~Big Wednesday in Yokohama, Japan; defeating Yuji Nagata . Held the title for 103 days.
    1. First title defense on foreign soil (vs Van Hammer on WCW Monday Nitro #164 November 2, 1998)
  24. The Great Muta (3): Won January 4, 1999 at NJPW Wrestling World 1999 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 340 days.
  25. Genichiro Tenryu: Won December 10, 1999 at NJPW Battle Final 1999-Day 17 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 25 days.
    1. Holds the record for having the shortest reign per person at 25 days.
  26. Kensuke Sasaki (2); Won January 4, 2000 at NJPW Wrestling World 2000 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 279 days.
    1. Vacated the title October 9, 2000 after Sasaki lost a non-title match to Toshiaki Kawada at NJPW Do Judge!! Title is vacant for 87 days.
  27. Kensuke Sasaki (3): Won January 4, 2001 at NJPW Wrestling World 2001 in Tokyo, Japan; defeating Toshiaki Kawada in a tournament final. Held the title for 72 days.
  28. Scott Norton (2): Won March 17, 2001 at NJPW Hyper Battle 2001-Day 12 in Nagoya, Japan. Held the title for 23 days.
  29. Kazuyuki Fujita: Won April 9, 2001 at NJPW Strong Style 2001 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 270 days.
    1. Vacated the title January 4, 2002 due to Fujita injuring his Achilles tendon. Title is vacant for 43 days.
  30. Tadao Yasuda: Won February 16, 2002 at NJPW Fighting Spirit 2002-Day 10 in Tokyo, Japan; defeating Yuji Nagata in a tournament final. Held the title for 48 days.
  31. Yuji Nagata: Won April 5, 2002 at NJPW Inoki-Ism Fighting Spirit Special in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 392 days.
  32. Yoshihiro Takayama: Won May 2, 2003 at NJPW Ultimate Crush in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 185 days.
    1. Was NWF Heavyweight Champion when he won the IWGP Championship.
    2. First title defense in a Cage Deathmatch vs Masahiro Chono at NJPW Osaka Dream Night August 28, 2003.
  33. Hiroyoshi Tenzan: Won November 3, 2003 at NJPW Yokohama Dead Out in Yokohama, Japan. Held the title for 36 days.
  34. Shinsuke Nakamura: Won December 9, 2003 at NJPW Battle Final 2003-Day 12 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 58 days.
    1. Defeated Yoshihiro Takayama to unify the IWGP and NWF Heavyweight Championships at Wrestling World 2004.
    2. Vacated the title February 5, 2004 due to multiple injuries suffered by Nakamura. Title is vacant for 10 days.
  35. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (2): Won February 15, 2004 at NJPW Fighting Spirit 2004-Day 14 in Tokyo, Japan; defeating Genichiro Tenryu in a tournament final. Held the title for 26 days.
  36. Kensuke Sasaki (4): Won March 12, 2004 at NJPW Hyper Battle 2004-Day 9 in Tokyo, Japan.  Held the title for 16 days.
    1. Holds the record for the shortest single reign at 16 days.
  37. Bob Sapp: Won March 28, 2004 at NJPW King of Sports in Tokyo, Japan.  Held the title for 66 days.
    1. Vacated the title June 2, 2004 after Sapp lost a K-1 fight to Kazuyuki Fujita. Title is vacant for 3 days
  38. Kazuyuki Fujita (2): Won June 5, 2004 at NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XI-Day 11~The Crush II in Osaka, Japan; defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi. Held the title for 126 days.
  39. Kensuke Sasaki (5): Won October 9, 2004 at NJPW Pro Wrestlers be Strongest in Tokyo, Japan. Held for 64 days.
  40. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (3): Won December 12, 2004 at NJPW Battle Final 2004-Day 13 in Nagoya, Japan. Held for 70 days.
  41. Satoshi Kojima: Won February 20, 2005 at NJPW New Year Gold Series 2005-Day 12 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 83 days.
    1. The first wrestler to hold both the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the Triple Crown Championship from All Japan. He was Triple Crown Champion at the time.
  42. Hiroyoshi Tenzan (4): Won May 14, 2005 at NJPW Nexess VI in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 65 days.
  43. Kazuyuki Fujita (3): Won July 18, 2005 at NJPW Summer Fight Series 2005-Day 10 in Sapporo, Japan. Held the title for 82 days.
  44. Brock Lesnar: Won October 8, 2005 at NJPW Toukon Souzou New Chapter in Tokyo, Japan in a Three Way Dance vs Fujita and Chono. Held the title for 280 days.
    1. Vacated the title July 15, 2006 after Lesnar had issues with obtaining or retaining a work visa.  Lesnar would take the physical belt to Inoki Genome Federation and would be declared their first champion.  Title is vacant for 2 days.
  45. Hiroshi Tanahashi: Won July 17, 2006 at NJPW Circuit2006 Turbulence-Day 12 at Sapporo, Japan; defeating Giant Bernard in a tournament final. Held the title for 270 days.
  46. Yuji Nagata (2): Won April 13, 2007 at NJPW 35th Anniversary Tour`Circuit 2007 New Japan Brave-Day 5 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 178 days.
  47. Hiroshi Tanahashi (2): Won October 8, 2007 at NJPW Explosion ’07 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 88 days.
  48. Shinsuke Nakamura (2): Won January 4, 2008 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 114 days.
    1. Nakamura defeated Kurt Angle February 17, 2008 to unify the IWGP Heavyweight Championships from both New Japan and Inoki Genome.
  49. The Great Muta (4): Won April 27, 2008 at NJPW Circuit2008 New Japan Brave-Day 11 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 252 days.
    1. First man to defend the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in All Japan Pro Wrestling vs Hirooki Goto at Pro-Wrestling Love in Ryogoku Vol. 5 on August 31, 2008.
  50. Hiroshi Tanahashi (3): Won January 4, 2009 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 122 days.
  51. Manabu Nakanishi: Won May 6, 2009 at NJPW Dissidence in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 45 days.
  52. Hiroshi Tanahashi (4): Won June 20, 2009 at NJPW Dominion 6.20 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 58 days.
    1. Vacated the title August 17, 2009 after Tanahashi fractured his eye socket.  Title is vacant for 41 days.
  53. Shinsuke Nakamura (3): Won September 27, 2009 at NJPW Circuit2009 New Japan Generation-Day 10 in Kobe, Japan; defeating Togi Makabe in a tournament final. Held the title for 218 days.
  54. Togi Makabe: Won May 3, 2010 at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2010 in Fukuoka, Japan. Held the title for 161 days.
  55. Satoshi Kojima (2): Won October 11, 2010 at NJPW Destruction ’10 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 85 days.
  56. Hiroshi Tanahashi (5): Won January 4, 2011 at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 404 days.
    1. First New Japan-branded defense on foreign soil (vs Charlie Haas at Invasion Tour ’11-Attack on East Coast in New York City on May 14, 2011
  57. Kazuchika Okada: Won February 12, 2012 at NJPW The New Beginning 2012 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 125 days.
  58. Hiroshi Tanahashi (6): Won June 16, 2012 at NJPW Dominion 6.16 in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 295 days.
  59. Kazuchika Okada (2): Won April 7, 2013 at NJPW Invasion Attack in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 391 days.
  60. AJ Styles: Won May 3, 2014 at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2014 in Fukuoka, Japan. Held the title for 163 days.
    1. First title defense in a Triple Threat Match and first title defense on a ROH-branded show (War of the Worlds vs Kazuchika Okada and Michael Elgin on May 17, 2014)
  61. Hiroshi Tanahashi (7): Won October 13, 2014 at NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Held the title for 121 days.
    1. Holds the record for most title reigns with 7
    2. Holds the record for most days as champion at 1,358 days
  62. AJ Styles (2): Won February 11, 2015 at NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka in Osaka, Japan. Held the title for 144 days.
  63. Kazuchika Okada (3): Won July 5, 2015 at NJPWDominion 7.5 in Osaka-jo Hall in Osaka, Japan. Currently champion at 236 days.

Thanks for reading! Is this one of your favorite titles? Is there a title you want to see here? Let me know in the comments below.  Until next time, I am the Baumeister.

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