New Japan Pro Wrestling chairman Naoki Sugabayashi confirmed today with Tokyo Sports that the IWGP Heavyweight championship and the IWGP Intercontinental championship will be officially unified as one title.
The current double-champion, Kota Ibushi, will defend this new version of the world title for the first time against the winner of the upcoming New Japan Cup tournament. His match against El Desperado at Thursday’s anniversary show in Budokan, which was originally pitched as a bout for the double-gold, will now be a non-title affair.
This ends the 10-year existence of the IWGP Intercontinental championship. Previous title-holders include Tetsuya Naito, Chris Jericho, Hiroshi Tanahashi, MVP, Minoru Suzuki, and Shinsuke Nakamura, who is widely recognized as the superstar who elevated the I.C. championship to its prestigious levels.