NJPW’s Tetsuya Naito Responded To Kota Ibushi’s Wrestle Kingdom Challenge


Shortly after New Japan Pro Wrestling star Kota Ibushi won this year’s G1 Climax tournament, he proposed a new stipulation to his contract for the right to a match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. Since Wrestle Kingdom 14 is the first two-day version of NJPW’s biggest show of the year, Ibushi suggested that he be allowed to challenge for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship on January 5 if he wins the Heavyweight Championship on January 4. Nobody has held both of these championships at the same time before — and Ibushi has not earned an IC title shot — so there’s no guarantee this will happen. Comments from current Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito in Tokyo Sports today, however, make a double championship match seem a little more likely.

Like Ibushi, Naito was a favorite to win G1 Climax 29, but the front-man of Los Ingobernables de Japon was blocked from the tournament final by Jay White. This was the second tournament this year in which Naito had the opportunity to get a shot becoming the first man to hold NJPW’s IC and Heavyweight titles at the same time. Now Naito says his rival getting double champ fever is “convenient” for him, and says he would give Ibushi a winner-take-all match on January 5.

However, he also brings up that it’s possible he won’t be Intercontinental Champion by Wrestle Kingdom 14 since the four men who beat him in the G1 — Toru Yano, Taichi, Jon Moxley, and Jay White — are all currently eligible to challenge for this title. He also points out that right now nobody knows when the Wrestle Kingdom 14 IWGP Heavyweight Championship match will be; it could easily be on the fifth rather than the fourth.

Of course, it’s also possible that Ibushi doesn’t even get a Heavyweight Championship match at the Tokyo Dome since Kenta and Evil are both able to challenge for his rights certificate, though that contract has never changed hands between the G1 and Wrestle Kingdom before. Still, with only Jushin Thunder Liger’s retirement match and a match for the Heavyweight Championship currently held by Kazuchika Okada set for two consecutive days of WK 14 so far, almost anything is possible right now, including that the event sees New Japan crown its first Intercontinental-Heavyweight double champion.