New Japan Pro-Wrestling Co., Ltd. (新日本プロレス株式会社 Shin Nihon Puroresu Kabushiki-kaisha?), operating as New Japan Pro-Wrestling (新日本プロレス Shin Nihon Puroresu?) and sometimes referred to as NJPW, is a major Japanese professional wrestling promotion founded in June 1972 by Antonio Inoki. In 2005, Inoki sold the promotion to Yuke's, who sold it to Bushiroad in 2012. Kaname Tezuka is the current President of the promotion and has held that position since September 2013, when the previous President, Naoki Sugabayashi, was promoted to Chairman.
Owing to its TV program aired on TV Asahi, NJPW is the largest wrestling promotion in Japan and the second largest in the world in terms of attendance and revenue (behind WWE). From its creation in 1972 until 1986, it was a member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). NJPW is known for openly engaging in working agreements with various MMA and professional wrestling promotions around the world, including WWE, WCW, TNA, Wrestle Association R, Ring Of Honor, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, and Pride Fighting Championships. NJPW's biggest event is the January 4th at the Tokyo Dome, held each year since 1992 and currently promoted under the Wrestle Kingdom banner. The promotion also has its own governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP). Thus all the promotion's titles are referred to as IWGP Championships.
IWGP Heavyweight ChampionshipEdit
The International Wrestling Grand Prix (IWGP) Heavyweight Championship is the top professional wrestling title in Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). It was created in 1987 with NJPW founder Antonio Inoki defeating Masa Saito in the finals of the annual IWGP tournament.
Throughout the history of the championship, several wrestlers have been forced to relinquish the title due to an inability to participate in title defenses. When a wrestler has been injured or unable to compete for other reasons, tournaments have been held to determine the new champion.
In 2006, Brock Lesnar was stripped of the title for being unable to defend it; however, Lesnar claims he was owed money by NJPW and kept the physical belt. He signed with Antonio Inoki's Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in 2007, and lost the championship to Kurt Angle on the inaugural broadcast. Angle later lost the belt in a unification match to the NJPW-recognized champion Shinsuke Nakamura in 2008.
IWGP Tag Team ChampionshipEdit
The title was introduced on December 12, 1985 at a NJPW live event. The IWGP Tag Team Championship is not the only tag team title contested for in NJPW; the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is also sanctioned by NJPW. According to NJPW's official website, the IWGP Tag Team Championship is considered an "IWGP Heavy Weight Class", while the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is listed as an "IWGP Jr. Tag Class".
IWGP Junior Heavyweight ChampionshipEdit
This title was introduced on February 6, 1986 at a NJPW show. Only wrestlers under the junior heavyweight weight-limit may hold the championship. The weight-limit for the tag team title is 100 kg (220 lb); it is assumed that this title has the same weight-limit. From August 5, 1996 until November 5, 1997 the title was part of the J-Crown.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team ChampionshipEdit
This title was introduced on August 8, 1998 at a NJPW live event. The IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is not the only tag team title contested for in NJPW; the IWGP Tag Team Championship is also sanctioned by NJPW. According to NJPW's official website, the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship is listed as an "IWGP Jr. Tag Class", while the IWGP Tag Team Championship is considered an "IWGP Heavy Weight Class". The title is contested for by junior heavyweight wrestlers; the weight-limit for the title is 100 kg (220 lb) per partner.
IWGP Intercontinental ChampionshipEdit
On October 3, 2010, American promotion Jersey All Pro Wrestling (JAPW) announced that it had reached an agreement with NJPW for the promotion to run its first shows in the United States. NJPW officially announced the tour, titled NJPW Invasion Tour 2011: Attack on East Coast, on January 4, 2011, during the Wrestle Kingdom V in Tokyo Dome event, announcing events for May 13 in Rahway, New Jersey, May 14 in New York City and May 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was also announced that during the tour, New Japan would introduce a new "IWGP Intercontinental Championship", which would become the promotion's fifth active title.
NEVER Openweight ChampionshipEdit
The NEVER Openweight Championship is a professional wrestling championship owned by the New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. NEVER stands for "New Blood", "Evolution", "Valiantly", "Eternal", and "Radical" and was a NJPW-promoted series of events, which featured younger up-and-coming talent and outside wrestlers not signed to the promotion. The project was officially announced on July 12, 2010, and held its first event on August 24, 2010. On October 5, 2012, NJPW announced that NEVER was going to get its own championship, the NEVER Openweight Championship, the promotion's sixth active title. The title was originally scheduled to be defended exclusively at NEVER events, but this plan was quickly changed and since its foundation, the title has been defended on the undercards of NJPW events. The original concept of having younger workers wrestle for the title has also not been realized with all five holders of the title having been in their thirties or forties. Though named an "openweight" championship, NJPW has also categorized the title as one of the promotion's four heavyweight titles, alongside the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and the IWGP Tag Team Championship.