The IWGP World Heavyweight title scene has been a bit hectic this year. Some have called it cursed, even. It’s set up New Japan nicely for the two nights they’ll be in the Tokyo Dome, though.
Will Ospreay was forced to vacate the belt in May due to injury. Shingo Takagi defeated Kazuchika Okada for the vacant title in June, and has held it ever since. Recently, Okada won this year’s G1 Climax tournament. The Rainmaker’s been carrying the old IWGP Heavyweight strap (which was merged with IWGP Intercontinental championship at Kota Ibushi’s request after he defended both belts at March’s 49th Anniversary event) to represent his right to challenge for the World Heavyweight title at Wrestle Kingdom 16.
Meanwhile, Ospreay returned in August, but has been working in the United States on NJPW of America shows while carrying his own version of the World Heavyweight strap. With Okada in the U.S. for Battle in the Valley on Saturday night (Nov. 13), the 28 year old Englishman saw his opportunity to get back in mix. After the ace defeated Buddy Matthews, Ospreay first offered the G1 winner a chance to challenge the “real” champ. Then he set up a match for the title he never lost.
Will Ospreay issues challenge for Wrestle Kingdom 16 night two at Battle in the Valley, Shingo Takagi quick to respond from Tokyo:https://t.co/rLvwlhdaF2#njpw #njvalley #njwk16 pic.twitter.com/B2tZqVudgB— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) November 14, 2021
Night one of Wrestle Kingdom 16 on Jan. 4, 2022 in the Tokyo Dome already has Shingo vs. Okada for the IWGP World Heavyweight championship as its main event. The Aerial Assassin wants the winner on Night two in the Dome. He’ll get it.
OFFICIAL— NJPW Global (@njpwglobal) November 15, 2021
Will Ospreay will challenge the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion January 5 as our main event is set for night two of Wrestle Kingdom 16!https://t.co/VnlfOj4u7d#njpw #njwk16 pic.twitter.com/QOwoQctoBv
Nothing is set for Wrestle Kingdom 16’s third night, Jan. 8 in Yokohama, but the Tokyo Dome shows have interconnected main events - just like they have the past two years. And if New Japan wants to tie together all the show-closing matches for their first ever three-night Wrestle Kingdom? Ibushi is supposed to be back from his latest injuries in late December/early January.