NJPW News: Kazuchika Okada becomes the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the company's history
What’s the story?
On 9th October 2017, Kazuchika Okada entered his name into the record books as he became the longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion in the history of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Okada surpassed Shinya Hashimoto’s record of 489 days as the champion, after once again successfully defending his championship at this year’s King of Pro-Wrestling event.
In case you didn’t know…
At last year’s Dominion 6.19, Kazuchika Okada won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the fourth time in his career when he defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon leader Tetsuya Naito, to regain the title.
Since then, Okada has had one of the most formidable title runs in NJPW history. His first title defence came against Naomichi Marifuji at the King of Pro Wrestling event in 2016, where he successfully managed to beat the Pro Wrestling NOAH wrestler and has held the title since then.
The heart of the matter
Kazuchika Okada made his eighth IWGP Heavyweight Title defence on October 9th, 2017 against Los Ingoberables de Japon member Evil.
“The Rainmaker” successfully managed to beat “The King of Darkness” and the win ensured that he surpassed Shinya Hashimoto’s 489-day reign as the IWGP Heavyweight champion, making him the longest reigning champion in the history of the company.
During this 400+ day reign “The Rainmaker” managed to successfully defend his the title against the likes of Minoru Suzuki, Katsuyori Shibata, and Bullet Club members Bad Luck Fale and Cody Rhodes.
Okada also defended the title in two six-star matches earlier in the year, when he managed to defeat current Bullet Club leader, Kenny Omega, at this year’s Wrestle Kingdom 11 main event. The two men then went on to face each other once again in June at Dominion 6.11, the match ended in a draw after the 60-minute time limit and Okada successfully retained the title.
The next major NJPW event is Power Struggle which will take place on the 5th of November, 2017. It has still not been announced by NJPW management if Okada will defend the title at the event.
However, for the last three years, the IWGP Heavyweight championship has not been defended at the Power Struggle event so chances are that Okada will not defend the title at the show and will most likely be part of a multi-man tag team match.
On the other hand, his Wrestle Kingdom 12 opponent is set, as he is ready to defend the heavyweight title against Los Ingoberables leader and the winner of the G1 Climax, 2017, Tetsuya Naito, at the Tokyo Dome in 2018.
NJPW have booked Okada brilliantly for the past year and his reign has been one of the most historic title reigns in wrestling history. It is great to see him hold the belt for such a long period of time because he truly makes a great heavyweight champion.
However, I believe he should drop the title to Naito at the Dome in 2018 as I think a change in the main event scene is going to freshen things up. Naito has been working tremendously hard over the past year and has improved a lot both inside the ring and charisma wise, and should be rewarded.
As of right now, I would like to see Okada play the role of a challenger for a while, and maybe have him win the 2018 G1 Climax, and eventually becoming a five-time heavyweight champion at Wrestle Kingdom 13, in 2019.