New Japan Pro Wrestling debuted their new IWGP World Heavyweight Championship before Tuesday’s Road To Sakura Genesis show in Korakuen Hall. The new title belt represents the unified lineage of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship. It marks the first design change to their marquee title since 2008.
After a brief video displayed the past champions for both belts, Kota Ibushi and New Japan management revealed the new title belt. Ibushi is considered the first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, and his first defense of the belt will be April 4th at Sakura Genesis.
The title’s design is reminiscent of past IWGP Heavyweight Championships, featuring the wings of the third version, as well as flames to represent “fighting spirit,” a sword piercing the world, and gems that represent the continents. The side plates are reminiscent of the IWGP Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship.
Fan reaction was initially negative, with some warming to the belt after seeing it on the shoulder of Ibushi in the main event. Most fans are still confused by the decision to do away with the previous Heavyweight Title. Ibushi has stated that he will not wear the belt around his waist until he has successfully defended it.