On June 9th, New Japan Pro Wrestling held their annual event NJPW Dominion with Tetsuya Naito contesting for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. It is arguably their second biggest show of the year. The show had five titles on the line and few where more anticipated then Kota Ibushi defending his IWGP Intercontiental title against Tetsuya Naito. It was their third singles match in just three months. Would this encounter live up to their great clashes at New Japan Cup and G1 Supercard? It is certainly going to be talked about for years to come if nothing else. #AndNew: as Tetsuya Naito Wins the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
It is so rare to see Naito booed so heavily from a crowd like he was in Osaka. He has a love/hate relationship over the years with this city. But Naito played it up well early doing things like raking Ibushi’s eyes and stomping on his neck repeatedly. Little did we know the terrifying risks that would occur later in this dangerous match.
The match worked its way to its most dangerous spot as both wrestlers fail at multiple attempts to hit a German suplex. They eventually worked their way to the ring apron and traded a series of brutal strikes. As Ibushi tries to hang on the ropes, Naito was finally able to connect with the most brutal German I have ever seen onto the apron. How Ibushi did not break his neck I have no earthly idea. Why take such a dangerous and unnecessary risk?
#AndNew: Tetsuya Naito Wins the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Even crazier, Kota quickly got back into the ring. They traded a series of strikes followed that by a series of head butts by Naito. He then hit another suplex and his Destino but only was able to get a two count. Ibushi comes back for the Last Ride for another believable near fall. It is then quickly countered by Naito who hits a spike DDT and that is followed quickly by a reverse tornado DDT. Why does Ibushi hate his neck so much? After a little more back and forth Naito is able to hit the Destino again to finally pick up the victory. Tetsuya Naito is now a four-time IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
This is going to be a very controversial match for sure. Tetsuya Naito and Kota Ibushi are easily two of the best wrestlers in the world. The final ten minutes of the match are among the most thrilling you will ever see in a New Japan match. However, did Ibushi, who already has had neck surgery, have to risk his health in such a dangerous way? It seems an unnecessary and potentially career-ending risk.
Naito winning the belt back so quickly from Ibushi is quite surprising too. Where do both competitors go from here? It is hard to say for sure but both have proven there are always going to provide exciting matches for us to enjoy. Just watch the necks, please. He will be in tough to maintain his health and defend his championship. Where does this leave Ibushi moving forward? Is he automatically given a rematch for the championship? Only time will tell when it comes to Ibushi receiving a rematch.
As it stands now Tetsuya Naito is THE NEW IWGP Intercontinental champion.