The new IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Championship title belt continues the lineage of Ospreay’s IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship.
Following Will Ospreay’s dramatic loss to Tetsuya Naito in the semifinals of the 2023 G1 Climax tournament, the IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion addressed the future of his championship belt during backstage interviews.
Naito, congratulations. Today you are the best in the world. You earned it,’ Ospreay commented, before continuing ‘but tomorrow, no matter if I’m in the final or not, I resume that responsibility of being the best in the world, because I hold this (IWGP United States Championship). I hold that, and SANADA, the IWGP World Heavyweight Champion has never pinned Will Ospreay. Thus anything I do makes me the best in the world. This championship makes me the best in the world, but it’s meaningless in someone else’s hands. This is only valuable in my hands. It never mattered in Kenny’s hands, or Jay’s, or Juice, or Moxley or Lance, Tanahashi or KENTA. It means nothing unless it’s in mine. The belt doesn’t make the man, the man makes the belt, and I am sick to death of carrying something I have no attachment to. I don’t want to carry this (US) flag. I’ve been to America and been the best in the world. Canada, Europe, Australia and Japan, I am the best in the world. The best in the world is from the United Kingdom. So to the IWGP committee, have this, I don’t want it. I want a championship that suits my needs. I was going to reveal this when I beat Naito, but shit happens. I am the best in the world, and I want this championship. This is my championship. This means I am the best in the world. I have beaten Kenny Omega, beaten Okada, I have beaten them all. So if anyone in the world thinks they are better than me, championship on the line, you beat Will Ospreay and you take this from me, you’re the best in the world. Naito, congratulations, but tomorrow is a new day, and I’m taking this bad boy with me.Will Ospreay
The IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship was established on May 12th, 2017, on the third night of the NJPW/ROH War of the Worlds tour. George Carroll, the NJPW United States Ambassador, made the announcement. During NJPW’s G1 Special in USA performances in Long Beach, California, a single elimination tournament would crown the inaugural champion, Kenny Omega.
As of writing, there have been eighteen title reigns split among ten wrestlers. Juice Robinson and Hiroshi Tanahashi both hold the record for the most reigns with three, and Tanahashi was the first Japanese wrestler to hold the belt. Jon Moxley owns two U.S. title records: first, he is the only wrestler to have held the title for a whole year; second, his second reign was the longest at 564 days with five successful defences. The third reign of Tanahashi, which lasted 13 days, was the shortest in the title’s existence. When Tanahashi, then 45, triumphed, he held the title of oldest champion; Jay White, then 25, had the title of youngest champion.
Will Ospreay won the championship at AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door 2023 and his in his second reign. Rumours continue to flow that Ospreay will defend his IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Championship at AEW’s All In from Wembley Stadium and close out the trilogy with Kenny Omega.