Minoru Suzuki took advantage of an injured Hiroshi Tanahashi and won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at New Beginning in Sapporo. It was one of three surprising title changes which took place over the course of the two-show event.
Shortly after losing the title, NJPW announced that Tanahashi was forced to withdraw from the remainder of the tour due to injury. When he returns, Tanahashi will have a rematch for the championship but who Suzuki defends the title against in his absence is still a question we don’t have answers to.
Minoru and the rest of his Suzuki-Gun faction also took part in NJPW’s Road to New Beginning in Osaka shows earlier this week. Monday and Tuesday’s shows aired on New Japan World.
Togi Makabe Challenges Minoru Suzuki
On Monday’s Road to New Beginning show, Togi Makabe teamed with Michael Elgin and Kushida against Minoru Suzuki, Takashi Iizuka, and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Makabe delivered the King Kong Knee Drop on Kanemaru for the win. Even though he didn’t pin the champion, Makabe evidently felt his victory over Suzuki-Gun was enough to earn him a title shot against Suzuki. He issued the challenge after the match but would get no response until the following night.
Minoru Suzuki Answers Togi Makabe’s Challenge
The following night, Suzuki-Gun defeated Makabe, Elgin, and Ryusuke Taguchi. Suzuki chose the moments after the match to deliver his response to Makabe’s challenge: No.
Suzuki denied Makabe’s challenge.
It appears Makabe will have to do something further to earn a title shot. He will have the chance to do just that, however, at the New Beginning in Osaka on February 10th. Makabe will again team with Michael Elgin, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Kushida to go up against a Suzuki-Gun team led by Minoru himself.
Should anyone manage to score a pin or submission over Minoru in Osaka, they would put themselves in a good position to receive a future title opportunity. If not, perhaps Suzuki will just wait to defend the title until Tanahashi returns.