SANADA Retains IWGP World Heavyweight Championship

Ever since SANADA defeated Kazuchika Okada to win the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis, the question has been whether SANADA would have longevity as champion, or turn out to be a flash in the pan. At least so far, however, SANADA as World Champion seems to be here to stay.

The Just Five Guys member had his first successful title defense at Wrestling Dontaku in Fukuoka earlier this morning, defeating former Los Ingobernables de Japon stablemate, and current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi. The back-and-forth affair lasted twenty-seven and a half minutes before SANADA was able to hit his finisher, the Deadfall DDT.

SANADA's night wasn't done, however, as he was attacked immediately after the match by a returning Yota Tsuji. The 29-year-old had been on excursion since September 2021, competing in both Revolution Pro Wrestling in the UK and CMLL in Mexico. His return had been foreshadowed by a month of vignettes featuring a mysterious figure arriving on Earth and being hunted by military personnel. Following his attack on SANADA, Tsuji joined LIJ, becoming the sixth member of the stable.

While a match between Tsuji and SANADA wasn't made official, Tsuji would hold up the IWGP World Title following the attack, signaling that he will be the likely next challenger. With the Best of the Super Juniors tournament set to take up the next month, the likely place for a Tsuji-SANADA title match will likely be Dominion, taking place in Osaka on June 4. As such, it appears either SANADA or Tsuji will be IWGP World Heavyweight Champion when New Japan Pro-Wrestling and AEW hold their second-ever Forbidden Door event in Toronto, Canada on June 25.