Tetsuya Naito Says He Will Defend His IWGP Titles In Another Promotion If NJPW Doesn't Return Soon
He could be stripped of his titles if he doesn't defend them by August 9...
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption to New Japan Pro-Wrestling's 2020 schedule. The promotion hasn't held an event since February 26 and has cancelled the New Japan Cup, Best Of The Super Juniors 27, and Wrestle Dynasty at Madison Square Garden.
Bushiroad founder Takaaki Kidani recently said New Japan is considering running empty arena shows in the near future, but he did not give a specific date on when they are looking to return.
This leaves IWGP Heavyweight Champion and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Tetsuya Naito in a difficult position as he hasn't defended the titles since The New Beginning In Osaka back on February 9. NJPW has traditionally adopted a six-month rule whereby a title must be defended at least once every six months otherwise the champion will be stripped of the belt. This gives Naito until August 9 to put the titles on the line.
The Ingobernable One recently sat down for an interview with Tokyo Sports and admitted he thinks it is unlikely New Japan will strip him of the titles under the current circumstances, but he acknowledged Jon Moxley was stripped of the IWGP United States Championship after his plane was grounded because of a typhoon. The Leader of Los Ingobernables De Japon believes this leaves him with little choice but to defend the titles in another promotion before August 9.
The IWGP Double Champion said: "I don't know. Last year, too, there was a champion (Jon Moxley) who was forced to give up his belt because his plane didn't fly due to a typhoon. That's why I want you to make announcements in detail. If I'm going to be stripped like this, I'm going to go to another organisation for at least one defence fight."