It seems pretty inevitable to most that Shinsuke Nakamura will re-capture his IWGP Intercontinental Title from Hirooki Goto at the impending Destruction in Kobe pay-per-view. And make no mistake, it is HIS title. He was the guy who took the belt and made it into a reputable second-tier championship, to the degree that it actually main-evented the Tokyo Dome at Wrestle Kingdom 8. The fact is, Nakamura’s reigns defined the IWGP Intercontinental Title, but Goto’s reign has been defined entirely by Nakamura. Goto defeated Nakamura for the belt at Wrestling Dontaku this past May, as well as successfully defending it against Nakamura in June at Dominion. But a loss to Nakamura in the G1 Climax opened the door for a third and, possibly final, challenge from the King of Strong Style.
However, Dontaku was not Nakamura and Goto’s first meeting for IWGP Intercontinental Title. Goto first won the belt in 2012 with a victory over Masato Tanaka, but Goto’s reign wasn’t all that memorable, marked by two defences against Yujiro Takahashi and Tomohiro Ishii, plus an unsuccessful challenge for Kazuchika Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Title. Goto then quietly lost his own championship at a Kizuna Road show right before the 2012 G1 and Nakamura’s first run with the belt began. But 2015 hasn’t been quite so kind to Nakamura. Since Goto defeated him for the title his only singles victories in New Japan competition have come during the G1 (which he would eventually lose in the finals to his old rival, Hiroshi Tanahashi).
Nakamura, with New Japan’s annual Tokyo Dome show looming large on the horizon, will be looking to alter his fortunes and finish his year in the strongest manner possible. So now the two meet again at Destruction in Kobe where, at the very same show last year, Shinsuke was busy re-capturing the IWGP Intercontinental Title from Bad Luck Fale. The outcome of the main event will assuredly set both men down their respective paths to Wrestle Kingdom 10 on January 4th, but it remains to be seen whether Goto will get a chance to define the IWGP Intercontinental Title free of the long shadow cast by the King of Strong Style, or whether (like Fale, Tanahashi & La Sombra before him) Goto’s time with the belt has been nothing more than an intermission in the continuing reign of Shinsuke Nakamura.
Of course, if Nakamura does indeed win, I wouldn’t write-off the chances of a fifth singles match between the two at King of Pro-Wrestling in October, as much as the repeat booking would surely make some fans groan. It seems that Nakamura & Goto’s fates are firmly intertwined in 2015.