The New IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: A Review

Yesterday, on their last show before April 4’s Sakura Genesis, New Japan Pro Wrestling finally revealed the belt for its newest title, the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship. The new World Heavyweight Championship, which began its life on March 1, is the product of Kota Ibushi unifying the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships and is meant to carry on the legacies of both titles while forging new, more global ground for NJPW.

The belt quickly earned New Japan some of that sweet, sweet international attention. Both of the well-liked old title designs were mourned, and the new one was immediately compared to the defunct WWE Divas Championship, aka the Butterfly Belt, as well as to the Nightmare Family logo, aka Cody’s neck tattoo. The new championship may not have had time to inspire any classic feuds yet, but it’s already given us some strong tweets.

But now that a day has passed and the hot takes have cooled, how are we feeling about this belt? Personally, I’m feeling bad! It’s ugly! The hot takes were deserved!

maybe it looks better with less light on it and from further away?  (NJPW)

As part of the belt unveiling ceremony, NJPW explained how the design is meant to reflect the new championship’s mission of “legacy and evolution.” It contains references to all four generations of IWGP Heavyweight Championship (the wings from the third, the shape kind of looks like the second if you squint), the IC title with the side-plates, and elements that symbolize “fighting spirit going out into the world.”

It all kind of makes sense in the same “I guess, maybe? But why?” way that the creation of the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship did. There’s some logic behind the points that people who work for the company have made to defend these decisions, but ultimately, fans have no obligation to care about the company line over their own evaluations of whether parts of the show look bad or don’t make sense to them. And I don’t think disliking these developments necessarily reflects a whiney or overly-conservative mentality; you don’t have to think all change is bad to think that sometimes things can change for the worse.

IWGP World Heavyweight Championship belt

2.9

PROS
  • inspired some good tweets
  • when NOAH redesigned the GHC Heavyweight Championship in 2019 the big criticism was that it looked too similar to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but now that belt is gone it's the best-looking world title in the game. chess, not checkers!
  • thematically appropriate for this moment in NJPW history
CONS
  • looks like the butterfly belt but less creative
  • reminiscent of recent WWE belt redesigns that people think are worse than the old ones
  • ugly
  • why did they do this
  • who wanted this
  • thematically appropriate for this moment in NJPW history
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Emily Pratt

Emily Pratt is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She used to study, write about, and make theater. Now she writes a lot about pro wrestling. Pratt is a regular contributor for Fanbyte, with other bylines at Uproxx, Deadlock, Mind Games, Orange Crush, and FanSided WWE.

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