NJPW Unifies IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental Championships

Kota Ibushi will be the first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

In a special press conference earlier today, New Japan Pro-Wrestling announced the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Title will be unified as the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. The titleholder will receive a new belt and Kota Ibushi will be recognised as the first World Heavyweight Champion.

NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi said: "Regarding Kota Ibushi's desire to unify the IWGP heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships, and in light of the results of last night's main event, NJPW has decided to uphold the request of the champion. The IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships will be unified, and their lineages brought forward under the banner of the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. There will be a new belt presented to the champion. 

"Kota Ibushi will be recognised as the first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, and his first defence will take place on April 4 at Sakura Genesis in Ryogoku Sumo Hall, against the winner of the New Japan Cup."

Kota Ibushi has been advocating for the Double Championship to be unified since winning the belts at Wrestle Kingdom 15. He defeated Tetsuya Naito at Castle Attack on Sunday to retain the IWGP Intercontinental Title and NJPW ultimately decided to grant The Golden Star his wish. 

The Double Championship will be defended one more time before unification, though, and El Desperado will face Ibushi for both belts at Thursday's 49th Anniversary Show. The IWGP World Heavyweight Championship will then be defended for the first time at Sakura Genesis against the winner of the New Japan Cup.  

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

Cultaholic's resident newshound.