Following the unification of the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Titles into the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, New Japan Pro-Wrestling suddenly found themselves without a second major title.
That position may be quickly claimed, though, and Hiroshi Tanashi revealed to Sports Illustrated that he is looking to elevate the NEVER Openweight Championship to that spot, and even possibly beyond IWGP status, during his current title reign.
"This is about starting something new, creating a new kind of fire. There's something to changing people's conceptions, and that includes having the NEVER surpass the IWGP name," Tanahashi said.
The Ace also reflected on holding the NEVER Title and noted he is excited about facing new opponents.
"I think the most exciting thing about it is being able to wrestle more opponents that I haven't had the chance to up to now. There are a lot of new possibilities opening up and that's really cool. I want newsworthy opponents, newsworthy matchups. Get people talking about the match, talking about the belt, and then deliver on the match itself. That's how to elevate this championship," Tanahashi continued.
"I will elevate the status of the NEVER belt until it's on a level with the IWGP, or even higher. And I'll have the whole world watching in the process."
Tanahashi defeated Shingo Takagi for the gold back at The New Beginning In Nagoya in January. He has since successfully defended the title against Great-O-Khan at Castle Attack and his second defence will take place on night one of Wrestling Dontaku against Jay White.