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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Tenryu wins IWGP Heavyweight title


By JOHN MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

Genichiro Tenryu. Photo courtesy the wonderful Puroresu Hall of Fame.
In one of the biggest shockers in Japanese wrestling this year, veteran Genichiro Tenryu defeated Keiji Mutoh (The Great Muta) Friday night in Osaka to capture the New Japan IWGP Heavyweight title.

A reported crowd of 6,700 fans in Osaka's Prefectural Gym saw Tenryu defeat Mutoh with a Northern Lights Bomb in 26:32. Mutoh had won the title from WCW star Scott Norton back on January 4th at Tokyo's Egg Dome Stadium.

This is Tenryu's first reign as IWGP champion, becoming the second man in history to win both the IWGP Heavyweight and All Japan Pro Wrestling Triple Crown Heavyweight titles (Vader was the other). The former Sumo wresler is also the founder and President of the WAR promotion (Wrestle Association R). Tenryu held the IWGP Tag Team titles last year with partner Shiro Koshinaka before dropping them to Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima this past January.

The title switch comes as some what of a surprise. Tenryu, age 49, has been wrestling his best in years, putting on incredible performances for a man of his age. Still, Muta is considered the best IWGP champion of all time and is considerably younger than Tenryu.

The title switch also throws the main event of next month's Janaury 4th Tokyo Dome spectacular into disarray. Mutoh was scheduled to defend his title against rival Masa Chono. With Tenryu now on top, there's no word if New Japan will come up with a new main event.

Tenryu told Atsushi Ohnita in a post match angle he wants to defend the title against him on an upcoming WAR show.

For a complete history of the IWGP Heavyweight title, check out The Great Hisa's Puroresu Dojo