Last year, when Tetsuya Naito defeated Michael Elgin to become IWGP Intercontinental champion, he showed disrespect to the championship, similar to what he did when he was IWGP Heavyweight champion, only worse.
After Naito announced he was to take part in the 2015 G1 Climax, he suffered a loss, but he had defeated the Ace of Japan, Hiroshi Tanahashi, who is a huge part in New Japan’s success. The following year, Naito won the New Japan Cup, and defeated Kazuchika Okada in order to win the IWGP Heavyweight title.
Before losing the title back to Okada, he had the crowd behind his disrespectful tactics against not only the belt, but the company itself.
After defeating Elgin, Naito earned himself a title shot, in which he won via interference from his allies at
Destruction in Kobe. Afterwards, he returned to disrespecting the belt by throwing it in the air, not caring for the prestige it holds.
The title has been given prestige by many champions. Those names include Nakamura, Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, La Sombra, and Masato Tanaka. Every one of those names have either brought NJPW to a new level, or have given the title new meaning.
Naito has defended and retained the championship on multiple occasions, including a recent win at Wrestle Kingdom 11 against Tanahashi in stunning fashion. Despite being the reigning champion, he showed disrespect towards it even more, recently by smashing it against the guardrail and steel steps.
Even though Naito may be ruling the Intercontinental division, he still has never received his shot at the Heavyweight title. The possibility of Naito losing the IWGP Intercontinental title would only mean that he’s ready to attempt to reclaim the IWGP Heavyweight title between the winner of Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega.
You can never know what may happen in New Japan Pro Wrestling, but we definitely know that Tetsuya Naito and his stable of Los Ingobernables de Japan will not stop until NJPW is theirs.