NEVER Openweight Championship
The NEVER Openweight Championship belt
PromotionNew Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW)
Date establishedNovember 19, 2012[1][2]
Current champion(s)Shingo Takagi
Date wonApril 6, 2024
First champion(s)Masato Tanaka[3]
Most reignsTomohiro Ishii (6 reigns)
Longest reignMasato Tanaka (314 days)
Shortest reignMichael Elgin (8 days)
Oldest championMinoru Suzuki (52 years, 73 days)[4]
Youngest championWill Ospreay (25 years, 242 days)[5]
Heaviest championJeff Cobb (120 kg (260 lb))[6]
Lightest championKenta (85 kg (187 lb))[7]

The NEVER Openweight Championship (NEVER無差別級王座, NEVER musabetsu-kyū ōza) is a professional wrestling championship owned by the New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) promotion. NEVER is an acronym of the terms "New Blood", "Evolution", "Valiantly", "Eternal", and "Radical" and was an NJPW-promoted series of events, which featured younger up-and-coming talent and outside wrestlers not signed to the promotion.[1][8] The project was officially announced on July 12, 2010,[8] and held its first event on August 24, 2010.[9] On October 5, 2012, NJPW announced that NEVER was going to get its own championship, the NEVER Openweight Championship.[1][2] The current champion is Shingo Takagi, who is in his fourth reign. He defeated Evil at Sakura Genesis in Tokyo on April 6, 2024.

The title was originally scheduled to be defended exclusively at NEVER events, but this plan was quickly changed and since its foundation, the title has been defended on the undercards of NJPW events.[2][10] The original concept of having younger workers wrestle for the title has also not been realized with the first seven holders of the title having been in their thirties or forties.[11][12] Instead, through the likes of Katsuyori Shibata, Togi Makabe, and Tomohiro Ishii, the NEVER Openweight Championship became known for its "gritty" title matches and "hard hitting" style.[13][14] Though named an "openweight" championship, NJPW has also categorized the title as a heavyweight title.[15][16] The title forms what has unofficially been called the "New Japan Triple Crown" (新日本トリプルクラウン, Shin Nihon Toripuru Kuraun) along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.[17] The title's openweight nature means that both heavyweight and junior heavyweight wrestlers are eligible to challenge for it.[18]


On October 5, 2012, over two years after the founding of NEVER, New Japan Pro-Wrestling announced the creation of the project's first championship, the NEVER Openweight Championship.[1][2][19] The title was originally created with the idea of using it to "elevate younger wrestlers".[20]

Inaugural championship tournament (2012)

The first champion was to be determined in a sixteen-man single-elimination tournament, which was set to take place November 15 and 19, 2012.[21][22] The title and the tournament were announced by New Japan president Naoki Sugabayashi and NEVER regular Tetsuya Naito,[2][19] who was scheduled to enter the tournament, but was forced to pull out after suffering a knee injury.[10] Much like regular NEVER events, the tournament also featured wrestlers not signed to New Japan; freelancer Daisuke Sasaki, Hiro Tonai, Kengo Mashimo, Ryuichi Sekine, Shiori Asahi and Taishi Takizawa from Kaientai Dojo, and Masato Tanaka from Pro Wrestling Zero1.[21][22] In the final of the tournament, Tanaka, the 39-year-old, who, despite officially being affiliated with Pro Wrestling Zero1, had worked for NJPW regularly since August 2009, defeated Karl Anderson to become the inaugural NEVER Openweight Champion.[3][23][24][25] Though the title was originally designed to be defended at NEVER events, NJPW has not held a single NEVER event since the championship tournament.[20]

Tournament bracket

First round
(November 15)[26][27]
Second round
(November 19)[23]
(November 19)[23]
(November 19)
Karl Anderson Pin
Yujiro Takahashi 11:12[26]
Karl Anderson Pin
Shiori Asahi 03:59[3]
Hiromu Takahashi 06:14[26]
Shiori Asahi Pin
Karl Anderson Pin
Kengo Mashimo 06:14[3]
Ryusuke Taguchi Pin
Hiro Tonai 08:19[26]
Ryusuke Taguchi 07:54[3]
Kengo Mashimo Sub
Bushi 08:02[26]
Kengo Mashimo Pin
Karl Anderson 15:12[3]
Masato Tanaka Pin
Kushida 13:02[26]
Masato Tanaka Pin
Masato Tanaka Pin
Taishi Takizawa 04:28[3]
Captain New Japan 07:22[26]
Taishi Takizawa Pin
Masato Tanaka Pin
Tomohiro Ishii 10:47[3]
Tomohiro Ishii Pin
Daisuke Sasaki 08:39[26]
Tomohiro Ishii Pin
Yoshi-Hashi 06:57[3]
Yoshi-Hashi Pin
Ryuichi Sekine 07:14[26]


Main article: List of NEVER Openweight Champions

Four-time and current champion Shingo Takagi

There have been 43 reigns shared among 22 wrestlers with one vacancy. Masato Tanaka was the first champion in the title's history. He also holds the record for the longest reign at 314 days during his only reign. Tomohiro Ishii has the most reigns with six. Michael Elgin's only reign of 8 days is the shortest in the title's history. Minoru Suzuki is the oldest champion when he won it at 52 years old, while Will Ospreay is the youngest champion at 25 years old.

Shingo Takagi is the current champion in his fourth reign. He defeated Evil at Sakura Genesis in Tokyo, Japan on April 6, 2024.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Caldwell, James (October 5, 2012). "News items: Velvet Sky launches clothing line, Details on Nash's next int'l tour, NJPW introducing new title". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e あの『NEVER』がリニューアル!! "無差別級王座"も新設!! 11.15&11.19Shibuya AXで再出発!!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). October 5, 2012. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i 東京・Shibuya-AX ~初代NEVER無差別級王座決定トーナメント Final~. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on November 22, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  4. ^ 鈴木 みのる. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on December 26, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
  5. ^ 渡辺 高章. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
  6. ^ 真壁 刀義. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on January 6, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  7. ^ 田中 将斗. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on July 25, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2013.
  8. ^ a b Nextジェネレーション育成 新プロジェクト「NEVER」シリーズがスタート!!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). July 12, 2010. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  9. ^ "NEVER.1". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  10. ^ a b 復帰の内藤 標的はNEVER王座. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). May 24, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2013.
  11. ^ 石井の野望「NEVER王座のブランド化」. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  12. ^ V2柴田がNEVER王座の改名を予告. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). March 20, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  13. ^ "New NEVER 6-Man Tag Champions to be crowned in Korakuen tournament | NEW JAPAN PRO-WRESTLING".
  14. ^ Andrews, R.W. (January 27, 2017). "New Japan Feud Focus: Tracking the key matches in the Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makable rivalry from Wrestle Kingdom 9 to". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  15. ^ "Kizuna Road 2014". New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved June 29, 2014.
  16. ^ 裕二郎がNEVER王座強奪!バレットクラブが新日のヘビー級全王座独占. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). June 30, 2014. Retrieved June 30, 2014.
  17. ^ 真壁 IC王座に照準の真意. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). February 29, 2016. Retrieved February 29, 2016.
  18. ^ 飯伏が狙う新日ジュニア版“3冠戦”. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). May 15, 2014. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
  19. ^ a b 新日若手興行NEVERで王座決定戦開催. Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). October 5, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  20. ^ a b 内藤「俺の使命はNEVER復権」. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). October 3, 2013. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  21. ^ a b 11月15日&19日『NEVER』無差別級トーナメント決定! 初日にKushidavs田中将斗! 新人2人もデビュー!!. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  22. ^ a b 新日NEVERトーナメント出場者発表. Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). October 11, 2012. Retrieved October 27, 2012.
  23. ^ a b c 2012年11月19日(月)NEVER~初代NEVER無差別級王座決定トーナメント Final~(東京・Shibuya-Ax). Kaientai Dojo (in Japanese). Retrieved December 24, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  24. ^ 将斗 死闘を制して初代王座/新日本. Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
  25. ^ NEVER初代王者・将斗1・4でWヘッダーだ. Tokyo Sports (in Japanese). November 23, 2012. Archived from the original on June 10, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2012.
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i 東京・Shibuya-Ax ~初代NEVER無差別級王座決定トーナメント 1st Round~. New Japan Pro-Wrestling (in Japanese). Archived from the original on November 19, 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  27. ^ 2012年11月15日(木)NEVER~初代NEVER無差別級王座決定トーナメント1st Round~(東京・Shibuya-Ax). Kaientai Dojo (in Japanese). Archived from the original on October 29, 2013. Retrieved December 24, 2012.