Tetsuya Naito Ends NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18 As IWGP World Heavyweight Champion

Tetsuya Naito wins the IWGP World Heavyweight Title at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 18

Tetsuya Naito finished the story at Wrestle Kingdom 18.

The leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon defeated his former faction mate SANADA in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 18 to capture the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. 

After a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes, Naito managed to connect with a Destino but failed to hit a second one, with SANADA blocking the move. The champion then fired back with two Moonsaults but Naito kicked out and he was eventually able to hit a second and third Destino, only for SANADA to somehow get his shoulder up. 

Naito went for a fourth Destino but SANADA connected with Deadfall out of nowhere to leave both competitors on the mat. The Tokyo Dome filled with applause when they made it to their feet and SANADA went for a second Deadfall soon after but Naito blocked it, following up with a Tornado DDT. SANADA fired back again, this time with a Shining Wizard, before he tried and failed for a second Deadfall. Tetsuya Naito then hit a Deadfall of his own before Valentia and a fourth Destino for the win. 

Following the match, Tetsuya Naito's roll call looked to be ruined again, this time by EVIL, but SANADA took out his former tag team partner for Naito. The Wrestle Kingdom main eventers then paid tribute to each other, with Naito leaving SANADA in tears after he thanked his opponent and said he wouldn't be where he is without the Just Five Guys member. 

With Naito's win, he becomes the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion for the first time. He is a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion. 

The win also ends SANADA's IWGP World Heavyweight Title reign after 271 days. He had been champion since Sakura Genesis in April 2023 following SANADA's win over Kazuchika Okada. 

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Aidan Gibbons

Written by Aidan Gibbons

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