“It’s an Openweight title, right? It should be mine. So I can make it interesting” are the words from Taichi this Summer and he achieved his goal by defeating Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight Championship at NJPW New Destruction In Beppu. Hirooki Goto had been a fighting champion all year, trading the NEVER Openweight Championship with Michael Elgin but regaining it at New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) Kizuna Road. Taichi, one of the most hated rulebreakers from the Suzuki–Gun faction, pinned Hirooki Goto with an Air Raid Crash at the same event headlined by Tetsuya Naito vs Minoru Suzuki. This is the first singles championship win in the career of Taichi in NJPW, Taichi’s valet Miho Abe celebrated after the match with Taichi as she was left in tears of joy.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) September 17, 2018
Taichi wins NEVER Openweight Championship
Since the creation of the NEVER Openweight Championship in NJPW in 2010, there have rarely been Openweight matches featuring Junior Heavyweights or Young Lions against Heavyweight veterans but that could all change with Taichi as the new champion. The championship was invented to establish young and hungry talent but it quickly became a secondary title in NJPW, much like the IWGP Intercontinental championship. For years now, brawlers like Tomohiro Ishii have chased after the NEVER Openweight Championship. The title was conceived though with talent outside of NJPW also in mind, so perhaps Taichi will defend his title against outsiders in the very near future. The idea of Junior Heavyweights like Will Ospreay battling for the NEVER Openweight Championship is a very intriguing concept, especially considering men like KUSHIDA have been in the Junior division comfort zone for too long and they have voiced their concerns about getting the chance to mix it up with the Heavyweight division.
— njpwworld (@njpwworld) September 17, 2018
2002 was the debut year of Taichi in pro wrestling, trained by legends Toshiaki Kawada and Hiroshi Hase. Taichi has won the GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship for Pro Wrestling NOAH, the CMLL Trios championship and the IWGP Junior tag team championships in his career but this win over Goto is the biggest victory of Taichi’s career. There was a lot of speculation that Taichi would be entered into this year’s G1 Climax 28 tournament, that wasn’t to be. Taichi in the G1 Climax tournament a sure thing next year now that Taichi has become a champion in NJPW.
Congratulations to Taichi on his NEVER Title win. His first singles title win in NJPW. Of course, the first thing he does is to continue SZKG’s tradition of desecrating the belt: #njdest pic.twitter.com/SjqAlV0vaV
— Jude Kilgour (@judekilgour) September 17, 2018
It was at this year’s New Japan Cup tournament that Taichi broke out of the confines of the Junior division for Heavyweight competition. Hiroshi Tanahashi brought out the best of Taichi in that tournament and “The Ace” even suffered one of the most dangerous moves in all of pro wrestling, the Gonzo Bomb. Tetsuya Naito feuded with Taichi next and the microphone stand that Taichi uses was even broken over Taichi’s head at the NJPW 46th Anniversary. Those major losses put a big chip on the shoulder of Taichi, all of that frustration was taken out on Goto. We can be guaranteed lots of fresh matches with Taichi as the new champion and the true spirit of the Openweight origins of the NEVER Openweight Championship can be explored in 2018 and beyond.