Shingo Takagi has defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the vacant IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, becoming the third champion in the title’s short history. The bout was the main event of last night’s NJPW Dominion in Osaka-Jo Hall. After a thrilling back and forth exchange, the 36-minute war reached its climax when Shingo capitalised upon a running forearm strike with his finishing move, Last of the Dragon, for the pinfall victory.
Shingo Takagi originally made his name in Japanese promotion Dragon Gate before debuting in New Japan Pro Wrestling in October 2018. He has gradually ascended the card following his debut in Japan’s biggest promotion, twice capturing the NEVER Openweight Championship (as well as achieving tag team success as a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon) en route to claiming the greatest prize in Japanese wrestling. Throughout his NJPW tenure, the 38 year-old’s work has received critical acclaim; this has culminated in his most significant triumph to date. The man many consider the “best in the world” now holds the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
Born from the merger of the prestigious IWGP Heavyweight and the IWGP Intercontinental Championships, the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship was created in March. As the final holder of the two separate titles, Kota Ibushi was recognised as the inaugural IWGP World Heavyweight Champion on March 30th. He dropped the title in his first defense however, losing to Will Ospreay at Sakura Genesis. Unfortunately, the Englishman vacated the title merely six weeks into his reign due to a neck injury. Ospreay, whose only successful defense of the the gold was against Shingo Takagi, had his say on last night’s result:
Regardless, Kota Ibushi, who defeated Jeff Cobb in the prior match-up, is the next challenger for the title. The new champion challenged the inaugural champion to close the show. As of this writing, no date has yet been confirmed for their match.
Elsewhere on the card, El Desperado defeated Yoh to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in an excellent contest. Shingo’s L.I.J. stablemates, Bushi, Sanada and Tetsuya Naito defeated Suzuki-gun’s Zack Sabre Jr, Taichi & Douki. In the opening match of the evening, Chase Owens, El Phantasmo, EVIL, Taiji Ishimori & Yujiro Takahashi of Bullet Club defeated CHAOS members Hirooki Goto, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Sho, Tomohiro Ishii & Yoshi-Hashi.