New Japan Pro Wrestling currently has twelve champions on their roster (not including titles held outside of the company). With so many different belts to share about in this promotion, especially when the likes of the NEVER 6-Man Championships are treated like hot potatoes, it’s surprising that certain long-serving employees have never had a taste of championship glory in the company.
Without including those that have been employed for less than a year, or are independent contractors only brought in for tournaments such as BOSJ or World Tag League, these are Five NJPW Roster Members Who Have Yet to Win a Championship There.
Zack Sabre Jr. – Debuted March 6th 2017
He may have won several titles in NJPW’s partner company RevPro, he may hold singles victories over Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tetsuya Naito, and he may have even won one of New Japan’s most prestigious tournaments, the New Japan Cup, yet Zack Sabre Jr. surprisingly is yet to win a championship in New Japan Pro Wrestling after a year and a half. He even appeared once with three belts from three different companies strapped around his torso, yet nothing from his biggest employer.
Given how Zack is presented as such a dangerous, skilled force in New Japan that forces everybody to wrestle and adapt to his style of match, it’s fair to say that IWGP or NEVER gold will be around this vegan tarantula’s waist in no time.
Cody – Debuted January 4th 2017
Entering as the newest Bullet Club recruit at Wrestle Kingdom 11, Cody was immediately thrust into a great spotlight in New Japan. Whilst he had a title opportunity at this year’s G1 Special in USA, and placed in a main-event, high-profile feud with Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi, Cody is yet to get his devious hands on a belt with the company. Cody certainly hasn’t been short of success or gold lately though, as we’ve seen with his run as ROH Champion, so it’s safe to assume that the American Nightmare will follow in the American Dream’s footsteps, and claim a gorgeous US Championship as his own in the near future.
Hangman Page – Debuted June 19th 2016
When Hangman Page was brought into New Japan, he was the voiceless member of Bullet Club. Page himself said on Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling that when he would walk out to the signature Bullet Club entrance theme, fans would initially sigh in disappointment when they realised it was him. Over time though, Page’s personality began to shine through both on television and with the help of the popular YouTube series, Being the Elite. As his in-ring work improved and his high risk antics became more daring, Page began amassing his own group of fans, no longer disappointed to see him do his thing.
In fact, it seems as though every single wrestler in ROH and New Japan has made at least one comment this year about how talented and promising Page really is. Thanks to this praise and his efforts, Hangman earned a spot in this year’s G1 Climax, receiving much acclaim from his peers and critics for the efforts he displayed.
With a major win over Minoru Suzuki and some of the biggest names in the company praising how good he is (he even has his own entrance music now), perhaps a run with the NEVER 6-Man Championships or hopefully even a reign as the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions alongside his Good Ol’ Virginia Boys partner, Chase Owens, isn’t out of the question within the next six months. The future is certainly bright for Hangman, and hopefully, it’s sparkling with gold.
And speaking of Chase…
Chase Owens – Debuted October 13th 2014
When Chase Owens made his first appearance for New Japan Pro Wrestling on October 13th 2014, he was already a champion. In fact, he was defending a belt in his debut match. Owens was the then reigning NWA World Lightweight Champion, a title with a rich history in New Japan. Various junior heavyweight legends, including Tiger Mask, The Great Sasuke, Ultimo Dragon and Jushin Thunder Liger held the belt during the 80s and 90s.
After one successful defence against Bushi, Owens lost the title to Liger after issuing a challenge to the legend. The Crown Jewel came to New Japan holding gold, but he has never once tasted championship glory in NJPW since, even despite joining Bullet Club in October 2015. Hopefully his recent efforts teaming with both Hangman Page and Kenny Omega will earn him a tag team title run some time soon.
YOSHI-HASHI – Debuted July 6th 2008
YOSHI-HASHI made his professional wrestling debut on July 6th 2008, after being accepted into the New Japan dojo after three years of trying. One decade on in the business, YOSHI-HASHI has still not won one single championship in his career thus far, and that goes for outside of New Japan as well.
In that time, he’s competed in Best of Super Juniors, the G1 Climax, the New Japan Cup, and holds victories over Kenny Omega, Pete Dunne, and Adam Cole, but not one sniff at championship glory. Not a single item to put in his trophy case.
Usually, a wrestler will have held at least one belt in their time, even if it was just for a small independent promotion with no name value, so to have a ten year career without one title or tournament victory, that’s somewhat impressive. Ten years and counting – not a bad streak in my opinion.
There is one achievement that YOSHI can be proud to claim though – he has managed to make Tomohiro Ishii burst out in laughter on more than one occasion, and I think we can all agree that is rarer than any championship victory in history.
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