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NJPW: How to Give Titles An Identity

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While New Japan are the hottest wrestling company in the world right now, there is one complaint you hear across the board: there are too many titles. With so many titles, being a champion in New Japan can begin to lose meaning. In addition to that, there are no clear guidelines on what distinguishes the IC, US and NEVER titles. All three have the exact same requirements as each other and are seen by most as the “not the IWGP Heavyweight” titles. Destruction in Beppu was just the latest example of a growing problem. The NEVER title was the only championship on the line and yet it wasn’t featured as the main event. They don’t feel the NEVER title is strong enough and that’s a problem.

I’m not here to say I have all the answers and they must listen to me or else they’re subject to fail but that doesn’t mean there isn’t validity on the topic. The company sells out nearly everywhere they go, they’re not desperate for change, but there is plenty of room for improvement. Here are my ideas on how they could spice up their title pictures.

IWGP Heavyweight Championship
No changes. Exclusively for the heavyweights.

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
No changes. Exclusively for the juniors.

IWGP US Championship
Changes: Main event of every show held in the US & Openweight.
– You might be thinking the title isn’t strong enough to headline shows in the states. What if I told you they could do Tomohiro Ishii versus Rey Mysterio Jr.? Add a tag between The Young Bucks and Best Friends, a junior tag between Roppongi 3K and Rascalz, and six-man title match involving Naito, SANADA & BUSHI against Omega, Ibushi & Scurll. Why couldn’t a show like that be a success?

IWGP IC Championship
Changes: Becomes the European title, main event every show held in Europe & Openweight
– Make this just like the US title but for Europe. Think about Zack Sabre Jr. versus WALTER and for the tags underneath: Bucks versus Aussie Open, Roppongi 3K versus CCK, Omega, Ibushi & Scurll versus Thatcher, Dragunov & Starr.

NEVER Championship
Changes: Every challenge must be between a heavyweight and junior.
– Some heavyweights may have a problem losing to juniors. That’s fine, this title won’t be for them. Someone like Kota Ibushi seems like he would have no issues with dropping to juniors as long as the booking was inspired. New Japan could work this title in as a special attraction anywhere they go. The title already has the openweight name, may as well put it to use. Kota Ibushi versus Will Ospreay comes to mind immediately.

Again, I’m not saying New Japan are in trouble and must implement these ideas but wouldn’t it help give the titles an identity? I would think that if a title were to guarantee someone a main event, it’d give them more incentive to want to be champion. There’s no question that New Japan has a problem with heavyweights wrestling juniors and I’m not saying it should happen every time (excluding NEVER) but it opens up possibilities when they cross the Pacific and gives each title an identity rather than feeling like a placeholder.

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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