Top 6 Most Successful NJPW NEVER Openweight Champions

1 year ago by Sonal Lad


4. Minoru Suzuki

Credit: NJPW1972

If the NEVER is known for its hard-hitting style, is it any surprise that Minoru Suzuki is one of the most successful champions? He held the title for 322 days over two very successful reigns. Suzuki may have never won the Heavyweight title but is one of the men most associated with the NEVER belt.

Suzuki’s first reign stood out for many reasons. With four successful defences, he also added some more depth to the division with concept matches. In particular, his feud against Hirooki Goto for this belt is one that many fans cannot forget. Starting with the lumberjack deathmatch in June 2017, the feud culminated in the Wrestle Kingdom 12 hair v hair match. Even to this day, it has been seen as one of the best NEVER matches in the division’s history.

There is no doubt that Suzuki embodies the message NEVER has taken since it was created. With no sign of his career slowing down, there is no doubt that Suzuki will want to hold that title again. He can also etch more of his image into the belt that he knows so well.

3. Masato Tanaka

Credit: NJPW1972

Despite the NEVER title being created for young talent, Masato Tanaka was the first man to hold the title in his late 30s. He wrestled his way through the 16-man tournament and beat Karl Anderson to become the inaugural champion.

Despite only holding the belt once, Tanaka cemented his place on the list with the longevity of his reign at 314 days. Tanaka holds the record for the longest single reign of all time for the belt and the most successful defences at four. He defended the belt against several wrestlers. This included Tomohiro Ishii, Tomoaki Honma and Shelton Benjamin before dropping it to Tetsuya Naito.

This reign changed the complexion of NEVER, giving it the strong-style reputation it is known for. Known for the extreme nature of his wrestling style, Masato Tanaka etched his name in the belt’s history. This was despite never being a full New Japan roster member.


Share this article with friends