With the NJPW announcement of the new IWGP United States Championship, a look at the five best options to be the first title-holder.
The biggest stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling were in New York City, NY on Friday night for the ROH War of the Worlds 2017 pay-per-view show. It was a fantastic event with incredible wrestling throughout. However, the biggest takeaway for NJPW may have happened before the PPV ever went live.
Prior to the show, NJPW announced a new singles title (the first in over four decades) with the IWGP United States Championship. This comes just under two months before New Japan runs their first-ever shows in the US, taking to California for two G1 specials at the beginning of July. The first-ever title-holder will be awarded the belt at those shows in July.
Now the question becomes who NJPW should make the inaugural IWGP United States Champion. Obviously it would make sense for the winner to be a big name stateside. What’s more, you almost have to assume that they’d put the belt on an American — though that’s not a given.
With those parameters in mind, however, let’s take a look at the five best options to be the first IWGP United States Champion in New Japan.
5. Michael Elgin
Okay, so we’re sort of already breaking the parameter that were just set as Michael Elgin is Canadian. However, there aren’t many competitors in NJPW that are as recognizable in the United States as Elgin. From various independent promotions to a long time spent with Ring of Honor and numerous appearances at Pro Wrestling Guerilla (PWG), there’s not a hardcore wrestling fan that’s unfamiliar with Elgin’s work.
That recognizable quality among fans in the US is obviously the first qualifier for Elgin to be the first to hold the IWGP US title. Perhaps more than that, though, is Elgin’s uncanny flexibility in regards to who he can put on a great match with. Simply put, he can do so with anyone. Elgin is built like a bowling ball made of cement, but has the agility and athleticism of a man not built anything remotely similar to the way he is. When you factor in his strength as well, he’s one of the most versatile pro wrestlers in the world.
Subsequently, Elgin would open up a ton of possibilities for the newly minted title in New Japan. No matter who NJPW would have in mind to challenge him, he’d be able to put on a show with them in the squared circle. If you’re trying to get a new title over with the fans, having someone with that type of in-ring versatility is key. Thus, Elgin would be a sensible choice as well as being someone deserving of the opportunity.