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Go Shiozaki Seeks to Reclaim GHC Heavyweight Title Against Katsuhiko Nakajima

A major world title match is set to take place on New Year’s Day.

Pro Wrestling NOAH starts off 2022 with The New Year at Tokyo’s famed Nippon Budokan.

The main event will see Go Shiozaki return from an injury suffered nine months ago, as he pursues the GHC heavyweight championship for a record fifth time against reigning champ Katsuhiko Nakajima.

“I need the GHC Heavyweight Championship around my waist to prove that I am who I say I am,” Shiozaki said, speaking through a translator. “I need it to prove ‘I am NOAH.’”

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Over the past year, Pro Wrestling NOAH took incredible strides in evolving. New logos, new rings and even a new wrestling presentation were on display, leading to a very successful year for the company. And after a world title run earlier this year by wrestling icon Keiji Muto, who defeated Shiozaki for the belt in February, the prestigious GHC heavyweight championship now rests around the waist of Nakajima.

A 19-year pro, Nakajima won the belt in October, ending Naomichi Marufuji’s fourth reign as champ. Nakajima is coming off back-to-back N-1 Victory wins, becoming the first ever to win the tournament in consecutive years. He then parlayed that into a title win, reclaiming the top belt in NOAH for the first time since August 2017.

“GHC stands for Global Honored Crown,” Nakajima said, also speaking through a translator. “It is a title that I will make people remember. This title is how I will attract more fans from America to NOAH. I am the only one who can change the times, and people will learn that I am NOAH.”

As Shiozaki and Nakajima wrestle to become the face of the NOAH brand, their feud is elevated by shared history. They once enjoyed success teaming together in AXIZ, until Nakajima joined villainous faction Kongo. During this stretch while Shiozaki has been out rehabilitating his shoulder injury, he has watched his rival Nakajima flourish atop NOAH.

“Nakajima established his distinctive style,” Shiozaki said. “He is talented. I knew that when I was teaming with him. And now, I know that I need to compete against him.”

Shiozaki suffered his injury during a match in Fukuoka on March 14. Ever since, his sole focus has been on returning.

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“I missed the fact that I couldn’t wrestle and couldn’t show my ability,” Shiozaki said. “It was my shoulder injury, shoulder subluxation, and that caused ligament and muscle damage. After the surgery and rehabilitation, I announced my return. Now I am back and aiming for the GHC heavyweight championship.”

Shiozaki and Nakajima will also be on the highly anticipated Pro Wrestling NOAH vs. New Japan Pro-Wrestling supercard January 8. Their card marks the third night of Wrestle Kingdom 16, which will be held at Yokohama Arena.

Nakajima is in a must-see match at Wrestle Kingdom, teaming with Kongo against Tetsuya Naito’s Los Ingobernables de Japón, which also includes reigning IWGP world heavyweight champion Shingo Takagi, in a 10-man tag.

“Water and oil do not mix,” Nakajima said. “But to take part in this kind of match is exciting. There will be a rare excitement that can only be experienced on this day. And those are opponents I will enjoy devouring. You will see me satisfy my appetite.”

Seeking to highlight the brilliance of NOAH, Shiozaki teams with Masa Kitamiya against NJPW’s Evil and Dick Togo.

“For now, I have something that I need to focus on and that is our Nippon Budokan event,” Shiozaki said. “All I can say now is that my Wrestle Kingdom opponents will learn the excellence of Pro Wrestling NOAH.”

Before Wrestle Kingdom, Shiozaki’s remains focused on his quest to reclaim the GHC title. This is his chance, once again, to represent the company, and with Pro Wrestling NOAH continuing to expand, he wants to be the one leading the company into new territory.

“We encountered the COVID-19 pandemic but we never stopped,” Shiozaki said. “This is the strength of Pro Wrestling NOAH and its success. I missed most of 2021, but I plan to lead us to success in 2022.

The New Year will be broadcast live on pay-per-view. It will be an opportunity for fans in the United States to learn more about us. I want to show Pro Wrestling NOAH all around the world, and I will be in the center because I am NOAH.”

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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.