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Pro-Wrestling News: Kazuchika Okada officially becomes longest reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion in NJPW history

Has Kazuchika Okada cemented himself as the best wrestler in the world?


Is Kazuchika Okada NJPW's best ever champion?
Is Kazuchika Okada NJPW's best ever champion?

What's the story?

Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada has officially overtaken former record holder Shinya Hashimoto to become NJPW's longest ever reigning champion with their most prestigious title belt.

In case you didn't know...

Previously the record for the longest IWGP Heavyweight title reign was held by NJPW legend Shinya Hashimoto, who won the belt April 29th, 1996 and successfully defended it for 489 days, finally losing it to Kensuke Sasaki on August 31st, 1997.

The heart of the matter

Kazuchika Okada is widely regarded as one of the best wrestlers in the world and on the 22nd of October he may have cemented his legacy by making history and surpassing Hashimoto's title reign length of 489 days.

Okada won the title from Tetsuya Naito on June 19th, 2016 and has held it ever since with no apparent signs of dropping it anytime soon. In fact, Okada has had an incredibly memorable title run, defending the title in a series of 5-star matches against the likes of Minoru Suzuki, Katsuyori Shibata and Cody Rhodes.

However, Okada's current run might be best remembered for his three matches against 'Bullet Club' member Kenny Omega. Their matches were so good that wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer was forced to break his 5-star rating system and award them 6-stars due to the quality of the matches.

What's next?

Okada's next record to beat is the total number of title reigns. Currently, he stands at four, whilst the record is held by Hiroshi Tanahashi, with seven separate title reigns. However, in order to beat Tanahashi's record, he'll need to lose the title again, and that's not happening for quite some time.

Tanahashi also held the title for 1,358 combined days — a record that Okada is set to break at Wrestle Kingdom 12 on January 4, 2018.

Author's take

I wasn't too familiar with NJPW and Kazuchika Okada until this year when a friend of mine showed me his G1 Climax 27 match with Kenny Omega. It really will go down as one of the best wrestling matches in history. After watching that match I watched as much as I could from NJPW and I have to admit, Okada truly is something special!


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