Shinsuke Nakamura has given his thoughts on New Japan Pro Wrestling’s recent decision to unify the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
While Nakamura is now a WWE Superstar, he had a long career in NJPW and has a storied history with both of the titles which have now been merged into the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. The ‘King of Strong Style’ is credited with elevating the Intercontinental Championship through his five reigns with the belt, this culminated with a title match between Nakamura and NJPW’s ‘Ace’, Hiroshi Tanahashi, headlining the promotion’s biggest show of the year, Wrestle Kingdom, in January 2014. ‘The Artist’ was also a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, winning the title for the first time when he was only 23.
Commenting on the creation of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship on Renee Paquette’s ‘Oral Sessions’ podcast, Nakamura pointed out that it means his record of becoming the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion will stand forever.
“They made a new IWGP World Heavyweight – or something like that – so no more IWGP Heavyweight, no more IWGP Intercontinental title. It makes my record forever, so I’m forever the youngest IWGP Heavyweight champion.”
When asked if he likes the idea of NJPW having fewer championships, he indicated that it was a positive step, as the promotion already has three other singles titles.
“Yes, already they have the IWGP Heavyweight, the US, and NEVER.”
In the short time since its creation on March 1st 2021, the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship has already been held by two of NJPW’s top stars, Kota Ibushi and Will Ospreay. Ospreay was recently forced to vacate the title due to a neck injury, and it remains to be seen how the next champion will be determined.