【9th December – New Card Added】Hirooki Goto vs Kota Ibushi for the NEVER Openweight Championship



【9th December – New Card Added】Hirooki Goto vs Kota Ibushi for the NEVER Openweight Championship

A new match has been added to the finals of WORLD TAG LEAGUE 2018, on 9th December, in the Iwate Industrial Cultural Center Apio, Iwate Prefecture

This newly added card is for a NEVER Openweight championship match, which sees Kota Ibushi challenging the 21st Champion, Hirooki Goto.

This match takes place after months of dramatic twists and turns. Firstly, Tachi vs Will Osprey’s NEVER Openweight championship, scheduled for POWER STRUGGLE in Osaka on November 3rd was cancelled due to Will Ospreay’s unfortunate injury. It was left to the previous champion, Hirooki Goto to take up Ospreay’s mantle.

Taichi and Goto had previously clashed over the title at DESTRUCTION in BEPPU on September 17th. The match ended with Taichi becoming the 20th champion. Despite Taichi refusing Goto’s request for a rematch, the IWGP intervened and the rematch was set for POWER STRUGGLE. Goto regained his champion status after defeating Taichi in 15 minutes, 2 seconds with a GTR.


After this, matters became even more complicated. After winning back his title in Osaka, Goto nominated Kota Ibushi, the man who had defeated him in the G1 Climax to be his next opponent. However, Ibushi refused the challenge, stating on Twitter; “What’s ‘never?’ What’s going on? Am I being nominated for something? What is this?” following-up with;  I will reject whatever it is!” 

However, the implacable Goto persisted on Twitter several times, trying to induce Ibushi by preaching the many qualities of the NEVER Openweight title. Ibushi, for his part, stuck with his guns, leading to the extraordinary situation where the champion was being given the cold shoulder on SNS by the man he nominated to be his challenger. 

Finally, Goto and Ibushi confronted each other in the ring last night, in the Nov 18th event in Korakuen, during a 6-man tag match. Before the match, Goto provoked Ibushi further by presenting the belt with his outstretched arm. Ibushi replied with a dismissive gesture.

After the match, Goto grabbed the microphone, and in a world-weary manner exclaimed “The next NEVER Openweight title match…I’ll stop offering.” “I keep getting declined, I got the message.” causing the venue to explode with his abandoning of the challenge to Ibushi.

Seeing Goto’s attitude, Ibushi was thrown into a panic. Taking Goto’s microphone, he implored him “Hold on…Wait a minute…Just give me a moment, please…Hold on…Why? Why are you giving up?” before getting carried away and adding “Let’s do it!”

However, this was Goto’s plan all along. Immediately after hearing Ibushi’s words, Goto suddenly reverted back to his usual self and shouted “It’s done! I’ve been waiting for this!” and hoisted the NEVER belt triumphantly in front of Ibushi’s stunned face.

Backstage, Goto said “I guess when you can’t go right, you gotta go left. I didn’t expect that it would work that easily.”

For his part, Ibushi said innocently “Was it a trap? Did I fall for Goto’s trap?” before revealing his true feelings “…actually, I wanted to face him”


Two two combatants recently met at the event in Kagoshima on the 1st August during the G1 Climax, where Ibushi beat Goto with a Kamigoye.

Their clash for the NEVER Openweight championship will be the last big match of the year. Which wrestler will go to the Tokyo Dome as the NEVER Champion?

They will fight again on 23rd November (Friday) in at Culttz Kawasaki in Kanagawa (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs.Kota Ibushi, Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi).