2. Tetsuya Naito
If there is a list of challengers for the double titles, Tetsuya Naito will be one of the favourites. As the last champion, Naito will be facing EVIL at the Summer Struggle in Jingu.
However, this feud roots run deeper than just belts.
In New Japan, factions are as thick as blood and betraying them is like betraying your family. When EVIL turned his back on the faction that helped him gain success, it was a huge blow for LIJ which is built on loyalty. Also, EVIL beat Naito for the belts in the first place at Dominion. Considering that their bout was a match full of rule-breaking, the Ungovernable One will be out to get his titles back and get some revenge on his former Pareja.
During recent shows, fans have seen the aggression Naito had towards EVIL in their title match and even now during the tag matches. You can see the tension in the ring every time they meet. It will be exciting to see what the two can bring out of each other in another title match with even higher stakes than ever before.
Naito has already made it clear during the Summer Struggle Tour that he wants his rematch and with the stage set for Jingu Stadium, fans are excited to see what happens.
This won’t just be a battle for the belts but a battle for justice and retribution.
However, even if Naito holds a strong claim to a title match, the most likely potential challenger for EVIL is his former LIJ member and tag team partner SANADA.
When EVIL decided to betray Los Ingobernables de Japon and made the move to Bullet Club, he also broke up his tag team with SANADA. Not only was it a duo with amazing chemistry but was also one of the most successful heavyweight teams that New Japan has seen. Even though SANADA, who is known for being calm and collected, seems to be coping well, there must be some anger lurking from the betrayal.
As well as his personal history with the champion, SANADA has proved time and time again he deserves his place near the top of the card in his matches against the likes of Okada and Zack Sabre Jr. Although he may have failed to capture the gold in big match situations, this added animosity and anger might be enough to give him that extra edge he’s needed.
A title match with EVIL would kill two birds with one stone. It would give him one more shot at holding the top prize in New Japan and also get retribution for everything his former partner has done to him. For fans, it would also be a chance to see another match between the two showcasing not only a contrast of styles but also personalities. Something which had previously led them to multiple IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champion reigns in the past.
Many people see SANADA as being a future champion. This could come at the expense of EVIL.
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