IWGP Heavyweight Championship
PromotionNew Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW)
Date establishedJune 2, 1983
Date retiredMay 11, 1987
Other name(s)
IWGP Championship
First champion(s)Hulk Hogan
Final champion(s)Antonio Inoki
Most reignsAntonio Inoki (2 reigns)
Longest reignAntonio Inoki (701 days)
Shortest reignAntonio Inoki (326 days)
Oldest championAntonio Inoki (43 years, 3 months)
Youngest championHulk Hogan (29 years, 9 months)

The original version of IWGP Heavyweight Championship (IWGPヘビー級王座, IWGP hebī-kyū ōza) was a professional wrestling world heavyweight championship owned by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. "IWGP" is the initialism of NJPW's governing body, the International Wrestling Grand Prix.[1]

The title was introduced in 1983 for the winner of the IWGP League 1983. Since then, the championship was defended annually against the winner of the IWGP League of the year. The 1987–2021 IWGP Heavyweight Championship debuted in 1987 (replacing this version) and was defended regularly; the original IWGP belt was kept in use until 1997.[2]

Title history

The inaugural champion was determined in the 1983 edition of the IWGP League, a 10-man round-robin tournament. Wrestlers from several promotions worldwide participated. Participants included World Heavyweight Champions from other international promotions (such as Canek, at the time UWA World Heavyweight Champion or Otto Wanz, at the time CWA World Heavyweight Champion).[2]

Hulk Hogan won the tournament, after beating Antonio Inoki via knockout. As a result, Hogan became the first IWGP Heavyweight Champion in this format.[3]

Since then, the championship was defended annually against the winner of the IWGP League of the year. Antonio Inoki won the title in 1984. Inoki successfully defended it in 1985 against Andrè the Giant (IWGP League winner of 1985) and Hulk Hogan. Hogan was the only challenger that didn't win the tournament to challenge for the championship.[2]

In 1986, Inoki vacated the title, because he wanted to compete in the IWGP League. Therefore, the 1986 edition was the first to crown a new Champion since the 1983 edition. Inoki won the 1986 League, and became champion for the second time.[2]

In 1987, the title was deactivated and replaced by a new version of IWGP Heavyweight Championship (active between 1987 and 2021), which was awarded to the winner of the IWGP League 1987.[2] The new championship was defended regularly, rather than as part of a tournament. Its lineage does not acknowledge the champions of the original title.


No. Overall reign number
Reign Reign number for the specific champion
Days Number of days held
Defenses Number of successful defenses
+ Current reign is changing daily
No. Champion Championship change Reign statistics Notes Ref.
Date Event Location Reign Days Defenses
1 Hulk Hogan June 2, 1983 IWGP League 1983 Tokyo, Japan 1 378 0 Hogan defeated Antonio Inoki via knockout in the IWGP League 1983 final, becoming the first champion. [2]
2 Antonio Inoki June 14, 1984 IWGP League 1984 Tokyo, Japan 1 701 2 [2]
Vacated May 16, 1986 Inoki gives up the championship, because he wanted compete in the IWGP League again. [2]
3 Antonio Inoki June 19, 1986 IWGP League 1986 Tokyo, Japan 2 326 0 Inoki defeated Dick Murdoch in the IWGP League 1986 final. [2]
Deactivated May 11, 1987 The championship was deactivated and replaced by the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, that was awarded to the winner of the IWGP League 1987. [2]

Combined reigns

Rank Champion No. of reigns Combined
Combined days
1 Antonio Inoki 2 2 1027
2 Hulk Hogan 1 0 378


  1. ^ "WK9 101: The Intro". Global Force Wrestling. Retrieved 2016-02-01.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "INTERNATIONAL WRESTLING GRAND PRIX CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
  3. ^ "The 1st International Wrestling Grand Prix Championship Tournament". Wrestling-Titles.com. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
Sporting positions Preceded byNWF Heavyweight Championship New Japan Pro-Wrestling's top heavyweight championship 1983–1987 Succeeded byIWGP Heavyweight Championship