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NJPW to unify IWGP Heavyweight & Intercontinental titles

NJPW will be unifying the IWGP Heavyweight and IWGP Intercontinental Championships into a new title, according to a report from Tokyo Sports. 

The report quotes NJPW Chairman Naoki Sugabayashi and states that the Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles will be unified as the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, a new title, and that current double champ Kota Ibushi will be recognized as the first IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. 

Sugabayashi also suggests in the article that Ibushi will make the first defense of the new title against the winner of the New Japan Cup. 

The report also states that a new physical title belt will be made to represent the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.

Ibushi has been advocating for the title unification since defeating Tetsuya Naito for both top IWGP belts at Wrestle Kingdom 15 on January 4. 

Naito, who came to be synonymous with the Intercontinental title with a record six reigns spanning 814 days, challenged Ibushi at today's Castle Attack show in Osaka for just the IC Championship. The build to that match played heavily on Ibushi's desire to unify the titles and Naito's want to separate them. 

Prior to the solo IC defense at Castle Attack, the Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships had been defended in double title matches since January 5, 2020, when IC champ Naito beat Kazuchika Okada for the Heavyweight title in a "Double Gold Dash."

NJPW will hold a press conference at 1 a.m. Eastern time Monday. The official announcement of the new title, the field and brackets for the 2021 New Japan Cup, plus the card for the 49th Anniversary event on March 4 are expected at the presser.

At the conclusion of today's Castle Attack event, new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado challenged Ibushi to a match at the anniversary show for both the Heavyweight and Intercontinental titles, as the Jr. Champion traditionally faces the Heavyweight Champion on that show. However, Tokyo Sports reports that their match will be non-title.