New Japan Pro Wrestling issued the following press release confirming that Kota Ibushi will be defending the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental for the final time this Thursday at the 49th Anniversary event in Budokan. Ibushi takes on current Junior Heavyweight champion, El Desperado, with the winner being crowned the first ever IWGP World Heavyweight champion following the two belts being unified. Details are below.
Earlier this afternoon in a special press conference in Tokyo, it was announced that the lineages of the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Championships have been merged. Per the requests of IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships to unify both titles, the lineages have been merged, and will now become the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi initially announced Kota Ibushi as the inaugural IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, with his first defence scheduled to take place at Sakura Genesis against the winner of the New Japan Cup. However, Ibushi’s public statement expressed his desire to defend his titles in accordance to El Desperado’s challenge last night at Osaka Jo Hall.
This request has been granted, and El Desperado and Kota Ibushi will meet in the last defence of the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships Thursday. The victor will become the first ever IWGP World Heavyweight Champion- watch history made on NJPW World live and in English!