Shingo Takagi has defeated Kazuchika Okada to finally become the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, before calling out his first challenger!
A gruelling match exceeding the 35 minute mark between two of New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s top stars main evented Dominion. The five-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada seemed to be the favourite to claim the promotion’s top prize; Takagi had only experienced singles gold in New Japan through the NEVER Openweight Championship.
But The Last of the Dragon was enough to put New Japan’s ace down for the necessary count of three. After his unsuccessful title challenge against Will Ospreay at Wrestling Dontaku, Shingo Takagi is the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
Not one to rest on his laurels, Takagi almost immediately threw down the gauntlet to his first challenger: ‘The Golden Star’ Kota Ibushi. Ibushi was the first man to hold Takagi’s new title, leading the charge to controversially unify the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Ibushi lost the championship without a single successful defence, as Ospreay defeated him at the first time of asking at Sakaru Genesis. But the former champion accepted the challenge from ‘The Dragon’, setting up a major match for New Japan in the near future.
The new World Heavyweight Championship has had a shaky start to its life. Its introduction was met with some backlash as fans opposed the unification of two of the most prestigious titles in all of wrestling; an injury to Will Ospreay forced the title to be declared vacant, resulting in three different champions in a relatively short lifespan for the title.
If he can overcome the brutal strikes of Ibushi, Takagi may be the one to bring stability to the championship. Throughout 2021 his performances have been widely praised by fans and wrestlers alike. Momentum is inarguably on his side; can anyone stop ‘The Dragon’?
You can watch NJPW Dominion by signing up to NJPWWorld for 999 yen per month.