8. Kenny Omega
Kenny Omega’s journey to the IWGP Heavyweight Champion was one of the longest and most important stories in professional wrestling with the trilogy with Kazuchika Okada. It was a feud that went global and has been called one of the best rivalries the industry has seen in a long time dating back to August 2016 after Omega won the G1. The culmination of this was at Dominion in 2018 when Kenny finally beat Okada during the 7* two out of three falls match. It felt like a fairy tale ending for Omega fans.
After winning the title, Kenny ensured that he was a fighting champion. He took all comers and had some stand-out matches against the likes of Tomohiro Ishii, Tanahashi, and the triple threat with Cody and Kota Ibushi.
However, despite this build-up and great defences, many have seen the reign as disappointing. At only 209 days, it seemed like the lead up was more impressive. However, it was a pivotal moment in professional wrestling and marks Kenny as one of the best NJPW has seen.
7. Yuji Nagata
For many NJPW fans, Yuji Nagata is one of the greats. At the age of 52, he is still a very active competitor in the company and takes a role in helping to train the future generations of wrestlers. He is also the wrestler with the fifth-longest IWGP Heavyweight reign with his first reign in 2002 lasting 392 days.
It is his first championship which ranks Blue Justice so high on the list with ten successful defences over the year-long reign. He had bouts against Japanese legends from Kensuke Sasaki and Manabu Nakanishi. One of the stand-out matches was against Masahiro Chono in Fukuoka in October 2002 which went to the full 60-minute time limit draw.
Despite taking a step back from major New Japan events, Nagata has made no secret of wanting one last shot at the title to become the oldest ever heavyweight champion. In his current state, this seems like no problem and would be welcomed by fans across the world.