Kazuchika Okada has brought back the classic IWGP Heavyweight Title design, using it as a symbol of his recent NJPW G1 Climax victory.
The five-time IWGP Champion brought the old strap out for a six-man tag at yesterday's Road to Power Struggle show in Korakuen Hall, Tokyo. This was the first time that the v4 belt has been seen since March, when Kota ibushi unified the IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight Titles, creating the much-maligned IWGP World Heavyweight Championship (complete with new design).
Okada is now using the old belt in place of a briefcase containing a contract for his guaranteed IWGP Title shot, which the G1 winner would usually carry around. 'The Rainmaker' had previously said the following about the classic belt in his appearance at the post-G1 Climax press conference:-
"Well, I won the G1, and I want to face Ibushi again, but I feel there should be something concrete to represent that. I’m not a champion, and I don’t have anything to put up. The IWGP Heavyweight Championship that Ibushi retired though… I’m not saying that people should call me the ‘X-ieth Heavyweight Champion’ or anything, but I want to hold that belt, until Ibushi gets back. "
Shingo Takagi, the current IWGP World Heavyweight Champion, will defend his belt against Zack Sabre Jr. at Power Struggle 2021 on 6 November, then presumably Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 16 (4, 5, and 8 January).
The situation is complicated by Will Ospreay, who is currently calling himself the real IWGP World Champion after being stripped of the belt due to injury in May.