At NJPW Power Struggle 2021, KENTA finally achieved his goal for over a year and won the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship. The Bullet Club star defeated the Ace of NJPW Hiroshi Tanahashi for the title, pinning him after a Go To Sleep.
The match between the two was one of the most talked about match at the show, with the pairs previous clash in July this year impressing fans. KENTA has been attempting to win the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship for over a year, losing to then-champion Jon Moxley earlier this February.
It was KENTA’s second ever championship in New Japan since joining from WWE in 2019. He won the NEVER Openweight Championship from Tomohiro Ishii in 2019, a reign which lasted 127 days and two title defences.
KENTA faced the best Tanahashi had to offer in the match. He survived a High Fly Flow through a table onto the outside, and well as a barrage of offence which could not keep the former Hideo Itami down.
KENTA won the match against Hiroshi Tanahashi through trickery which has come to define his run as part of Bullet Club. He launched Hiroshi Tanahashi’s head into the exposed metal turnbuckle. This dazed him, before putting him away with his patented Go To Sleep move.
After the match, in his post match interview he would put out a challenge to a current star of AEW.
“Hey, CM Punk” he said, challenging the Straight Edge Superstar to a future match.
“I’m the IWGP US Heavyweight Champion. It’s going to happen”.
Whether in NJPW or in AEW, CM Punk vs KENTA looks set to happen some time in the near future. Maybe even a bout at the upcoming WrestleKingdom 17?