47-year-old wrestling legend Chris Jericho started 2018 by setting the wrestling world on fire, going 35-minutes with Kenny Omega in the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 12. Now, as we look to approach the halfway point of the year, the man who has previously described himself as a “WWE lifer” now stands atop the Japanese wrestling world as your new IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
Jericho defeated Tesuya Naito at this Saturday’s NJPW Dominion event in Osaka, the promotion’s second biggest event of the year, in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 13,000 people.
The Los Ingobernables de Japon leader was ambushed during his entrance, continuing the violent tone and pace their rivalry had established in recent weeks. Jericho actually managed to put Naito through two different tables before he was even able to take off his entrance gear; before the match had even officially began.
While the New Japan megastar attempted to mount a comeback, taking control at several points during the match and even hitting his finishing manuever – Destino – Jericho ultimately took advantage of a downed referee to deliver a fatal low blow, and the Codebreaker to secure his victory and the IWGP title. He now joins the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Andrade Cien Almas and Minoru Suzuki who have all brought prestige to the title since its introduction in 2011.
After the bout Y2J continued his assault on the fallen former champion, until Naito’s Los Ingobernables stablemate EVIL (formerly Takaaki Watanabe in Ring of Honor) made the save and chased off the WWE legend. It’s possible they may be building to a Jericho vs. EVIL match down the line, possibly en route to a rematch between Jericho and Naito. The full lineup for NJPW at the Cow Palace next month should be sent out in the next few days, so we’ll keep you posted!