Sad news broke today, as it looks like the beloved IWGP Intercontinental Championship is about to say goodbye. NJPW will reportedly be making the announcement soon that the white belt and the IWGP Heavyweight Title of Kota Ibushi’s will now be merged into the new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. [Tokyo Sports, H/T Ross Berman of WrestleZone]
Despite being introduced only a little less than a decade ago, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship has become one of the most respected titles in NJPW and all of professional wrestling. It has arguably outshined the legendary IWGP Heavyweight Championship at times, even seeing the Intercontinental Title Match earn the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 8 instead of the Heavyweight Title Match.
It’s also disappointing because the IWGP Intercontinental Championship was arguably one of the most gorgeous title designs in all of wrestling, but it will now be one we remember fondly from the past rather than one we see moving forward. With the title about to say goodbye, we look back at the top five IWGP Intercontinental Champions of all time.
5. MVP, the inaugural IWGP Intercontinental Champion in NJPW
While he may not be the most remembered, we can’t ignore the significance of MVP becoming the first-ever IWGP Intercontinental Champion on May 15, 2011. NJPW held a tournament to crown the first champion that also included Kazuchika Okada, Josh Daniels, Tetsuya Naito, Dan Maff, Toru Yano, Hideo Saito, and Yujiro Takahashi.
MVP defeated Okada in the opening round and Tetsuya Naito in the semifinals, both by submission. At NJPW Invasion Tour 2011: Attack on East Coast in Philadelphia, he was up against Toru Yano in the night’s semi-main event and took the win to become the first champion.
MVP held the title for 148 days with two successful defenses against Toru Yano before losing it to Masato Tanaka and NJPW Destruction ’11. He may not be the top champion, but he deserves a nod in the top five.