Kota Ibushi Becomes First IWGP World Heavyweight Champion In NJPW, Double Gold Era Ends

The IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships are officially one. And Kota Ibushi is God.

When Kota Ibushi won both titles at Wrestle Kingdom 15, his goal was to combine the titles into one. He got his wish following NJPW Castle Attack when it was announced the two titles would merge to create the IWGP World Heavyweight Title.

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First, Ibushi had to get past IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and one-half of the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions El Desperado at the 49th Anniversary event. The winner of the bout would become the first official IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

Ibushi bested Desperado at the event, finishing him off with Kamigoye to become the first-ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

The IWGP Heavyweight Title was instituted in 1987 with Antonio Inoki becoming the first man to hold the title. There have been 73 IWGP Heavyweight Champions in history. Hiroshi Tanahashi has the most reigns with eight, Kazuchika Okada has the most title defenses with 30 and is the longest-reigning champion in combined days, holding the title for 1,790 during his five reigns.

The IWGP Intercontinental Title was introduced in 2011 with MVP becoming the first champion. There have been 27 IWGP Intercontinental Champions in history. Tetsuya Naito had the most reigns with six while Shinsuke Nakamura had the most title defenses (17) and combined days as champion (901).

Naito became the first-ever IWGP Double Gold Champion when he defeated Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 14. EVIL would win the belts at Dominion 2020, Naito got the belts back at Summer Struggle 2020, and Ibushi became the last IWGP Double Gold Champion at Wrestle Kingdom 15.

If you missed anything from NJPW 49th Anniversary event, check out full results and highlights from the show by clicking here.

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