Tetsuya Naito pursuit of the top prize in New Japan Pro Wrestling could reach the finish line this weekend. He will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku. The event is being held Sunday at the PayPay Dome in Fukuoka.

Tetsuya Naito is a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. However, the newer top title recently established by the merging of the heavyweight title and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship lineages has eluded him.

“When I first entered New Japan Pro Wrestling, I longed for the IWGP heavyweight championship,” Naito told Sports Illustrated. “I truly believed the IWGP heavyweight throne was the belt at the top of the professional wrestling world. But now the IWGP heavyweight throne is gone, and the IWGP world heavyweight championship was born.”

Tetsuya Naito was present at the birth of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. He carried both the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship into a double title match against Kota Ibushi at Wrestle Kingdom 15 on January 4, 2021. Ibushi defeated Naito and emerged from Wrestle Kingdom holding both titles. The following month, Naito unsuccessfully challenged Ibushi for only the Intercontinental Title in a bid to prevent the unification.

“I’m the one who tried to stop the birth of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship,” Naito explained. “Even now, I don’t have any special feelings for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. But if I hold it, even just this once, perhaps my way of thinking about the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship may change.

“There’s only one reason why I’m aiming for the IWGP world heavyweight championship,” Naito continued. “That is to return where I belong, the main event of the Tokyo Dome on January 4, 2023.”

Sunday’s match is Tetsuya Naito’s second shot this year at the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship held by Kazuchika Okada. Naito was defeated by Okada in their title match last February.

Have a news tip or correction? Send it to [email protected]

counter

Sign up for Wrestling Inc. Breaking News Alerts

YouTube icon.Subscribe to Wrestling Inc. on YouTube.