Following Kota Ibushi's win over Tetsuya Naito at Castle Attack, NJPW President Naoki Sugabayashi granted The Golden Star his wish and unified the IWGP Heavyweight Title and IWGP Intercontinental Title as the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
The decision received an overwhelmingly negative reaction from fans as many felt the history of both titles would be erased if they became one. Regardless, NJPW pressed ahead with the decision and the Double Title was defended for the final time at the 49th Anniversary Show on March 4.
Ibushi recently spoke to NJPW's website about unifying the belts and the backlash it received.
"Mixed, I don't know," Ibushi said. "I think from fans and wrestlers alike, I'd say 99 percent were against it. Right. But that was a river we had to cross, I think. Just something I had to take and move on.
"Yeah. You know, I get it, I do. It was one of those things where people told me what was happening, and then I went to see what everyone was saying for myself. Then, 'Ok, so that's how it is', and move on."
Following the unification, Ibushi dropped the IWGP World Heavyweight Title to Will Ospreay. The Golden Star has reportedly been dealing with a foot injury and he has only wrestled once since losing the gold.