ⓘ Los Ingobernables de Japon
Los Ingobernables de Japon, also shortened to L.I.J., is a Japanese professional wrestling stable, based in the New Japan Pro-Wrestling promotion and led by Tetsuya Naito. An offshoot of the Mexican stable Los Ingobernables from the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre promotion, the group was formed in November 2015 by Naito, Bushi and Evil, but has since come to also include Sanada, Hiromu Takahashi, and Shingo Takagi. Through NJPWs working relationship with other companies, they have also appeared in CMLL and in the American Ring of Honor promotion.
Despite being smaller in numbers than full-scale factions such as Bullet Club or Chaos, Los Ingobernables de Japon has established itself as one of the most prominent and most popular stables in NJPW. As part of the stable, Naito has held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the top championship of the company, on two occasions, and the IWGP Intercontinental Championship five times; he is the first and currently only wrestler to have held both titles simultaneously. Among the other accomplishments of the stable are two IWGP Tag Team Championship reigns and two G1 Tag League wins for the tag team of Evil and Sanada, four IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship reigns divided between Bushi and Takahashi, one IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship reign from Bushi and Takagi, two NEVER Openweight Championship reigns from Evil and a current reign for Takagi, and a record three NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship reigns for Bushi, Evil and Sanada, plus a fourth reign for Bushi and Evil with Takagi; overall, twenty title reigns took place within the stable. Tokyo Sports cited L.I.J. s impact on NJPW as one of the main factors in the magazine naming Naito the 2016 Wrestler of the Year, a feat he repeated the following year.
1.1. History Origins and background 2013–2016
In June 2013, Tetsuya Naito returned to New Japan Pro-Wrestling NJPW from a legitimate anterior cruciate ligament injury. Two months later, Naito defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi in the finals to win NJPWs premier singles tournament, the G1 Climax. Despite being a clean-cut babyface, Naito was soundly rejected by NJPW fans and his win over Tanahashi was booed. NJPW had pegged Naito as their next top babyface star, but seeing how the fans were reacting to him, the company changed their course of action and announced a fan vote to decide whether the planned IWGP Heavyweight Championship match between Naito and Kazuchika Okada or an IWGP Intercontinental Championship match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi would main event the promotions biggest event of the year, Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome. The fans voted Nakamura and Tanahashi to main event the show with Naito and Okada relegated to semi-main event. After failing to capture the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Okada, Naito would remain a step below the top spot in NJPW.
During the summer of 2015, Naito, through a working relationship between NJPW and the Mexican Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre CMLL promotion, worked a tour of CMLL, during which he joined the Los Ingobernables stable. Upon his June return to NJPW, Naito continued representing Los Ingobernables, adopting the villainous attitude associated with the stable, using the fans rejection of him as a catalyst for the change. In the weeks leading to Octobers King of Pro-Wrestling event, Naito began teasing bringing in a pareja "partner" to witness his match against Hiroshi Tanahashi, contested for Tanahashis contract for a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in Tokyo Dome. At the October 12 event, Takaaki Watanabe, making his NJPW return after a two-year overseas learning excursion, was revealed as Naitos pareja as he attacked Hiroshi Tanahashi during his match with Naito. Watanabes outside interference was stopped by Hirooki Goto and Katsuyori Shibata, which led to Tanahashi defeating Naito to retain his contract. In a post-match interview, Naito gave Watanabe his new ring name, "King of Darkness" Evil.
1.2. History Creation and rise to prominence 2015–2016
On November 21, Naito and Evil entered the 2015 World Tag League. During the opening night, Bushi, making his return following an injury, debuted as the new third member of the group, which was subsequently dubbed Los Ingobernables de Japon. Naito and Evil ended up making it to the finals of the World Tag League, before losing to G.B.H. Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. On the day of the finals, December 9, Bushi offered Mascara Dorada a spot in Los Ingobernables de Japon. After being turned down, Bushi attacked Dorada, unmasked him and stole his CMLL World Welterweight Championship belt. This led to a title match on December 19, where Bushi defeated Dorada with help from his stablemates to bring Los Ingobernables de Japon its first championship. Bushi lost the title back to Dorada during the CMLL and NJPW co-produced Fantastica Mania 2016 tour on January 22, 2016. On February 20, at the NJPW and Ring of Honor ROH co-produced Honor Rising: Japan 2016 event, Los Ingobernables de Japon helped Jay Lethal retain the ROH World Championship in a match against Tomoaki Honma. Following the match, both Lethal and his manager Truth Martini joined the stable. While this marked Martinis only appearance as a member of Los Ingobernables de Japon, Lethal continued making sporadic appearances as part of the group over the following months.
On March 12, Naito, with help from both Bushi and Evil, defeated Hirooki Goto in the finals to win the 2016 New Japan Cup. With the win, Naito earned the right to challenge for a title of his choosing and chose to face IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. On April 10 at Invasion Attack 2016, Sanada debuted as the newest member of Los Ingobernables de Japon, helping Naito defeat Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. On May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2016, Naito made his first successful defense of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Okadas Chaos stablemate Tomohiro Ishii. Following the match, Okada, who had earlier in the event defeated Sanada, intimated that he wanted a title rematch with Naito. Also in May, Bushi took part in the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors. Although he failed to advance from his block with a record of four wins and three losses, Bushi scored a major win in his final match of the tournament on June 6 by defeating reigning IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Kushida, causing him to miss the finals of the tournament. On June 19 at Dominion 6.19 in Osaka-jo Hall, Naito lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back to Okada, ending his two-month reign in his second defense. From July 18 to August 13, Naito, Evil and Sanada all took part in the 2016 G1 Climax, with Sanada wrestling in block A and Naito and Evil in block B. All three failed to advance to the finals with Naito finishing second in his block with a record of six wins and three losses, while Sanada and Evil both finished with records of four wins and five losses. Naito was victorious over Evil in the head-to-head match between the two stablemates. During the tournament, Naito scored a win over Michael Elgin, which put him in line for a shot at Elgins IWGP Intercontinental Championship. On August 20, Jay Lethals association with the stable came to an end, when Naito and Evil abandoned him during a six-man tag team match at an ROH event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On September 17 at Destruction in Tokyo, Bushi received a shot at the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, which he had earned with the win over Kushida during the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors. Bushi was accompanied to the match by a new unidentified member of the Los Ingobernables de Japon, who had debuted earlier in the week. The match featured outside interference from both Naito and Michael Elgin and ended with Bushi defeating Kushida to bring the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to Los Ingobernables de Japon. On September 25 at Destruction in Kobe, the stable won another title, when Naito defeated Elgin for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Bushi lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship back to Kushida on November 5 at Power Struggle. Later that same event, Evil defeated Katsuyori Shibata to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion. Evil lost the title back to Shibata ten days later in Singapore. The following week, three members of the stable entered the 2016 World Tag League with Evil and Sanada teaming together, while Naito partnered with CMLL wrestler and original Los Ingobernables member Rush. Naito had planned a teamup between the Los Ingobernables and Los Ingobernables de Japon stables for the previous years tournament, but the CMLL wrestlers had been busy and unable to participate. Naito and Rush finished the tournament on December 7 with a record of four wins and three losses, failing to advance to the finals due to losing to block winners Guerrillas of Destiny Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa in their final round-robin match. The following day, Evil and Sanada finished their block with a record of five wins and two losses, tied with block winners Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma, but failed to advance due to losing to Makabe and Honma in the head-to-head match.
1.3. History Continued growth and tag team success 2016–2019
On December 10, Hiromu Takahashi joined Los Ingobernables de Japon. Takahashi had recently returned to NJPW from a three-year overseas learning excursion, during which he mainly worked for CMLL. On the same show, Bushi, Evil and Sanada defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Yuji Nagata and NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champion Satoshi Kojima in a six-man tag team match, after which Bushi made a title challenge against Kojima and his championship partners David Finlay and Ricochet. On January 4, 2017 at Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo Dome, Bushi, Evil and Sanada defeated Finlay, Ricochet and Kojima as part of a four-team gauntlet match, which also included the Bullet Club trio of Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi and the Chaos trio of Jado, Will Ospreay and Yoshi-Hashi, to become the new NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions. Later that same event, Takahashi defeated Kushida to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Tetsuya Naitos successful defense of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Hiroshi Tanahashi marked a clean sweep for L.I.J., who left Wrestle Kingdom 11 holding three championships.
Following Wrestle Kingdom 11, L.I.J. entered a rivalry with the Taguchi Japan stable over all three of their championships. Naito went on to successfully defend the Intercontinental Championship against Taguchi Japan members Michael Elgin and Juice Robinson, while Takahashi defended the Junior Heavyweight Championship against their stablemates Dragon Lee, Kushida, and Ricochet. Meanwhile, Bushi, Evil and Sanada exchanged the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship with members of Taguchi Japan multiple times. They first lost the title to Hiroshi Tanahashi, Manabu Nakanishi and Ryusuke Taguchi on January 5, then regained it on February 11 at The New Beginning in Osaka, then lost it to Tanahashi, Taguchi and Ricochet on April 4, before regaining it again on May 3 at Wrestling Dontaku 2017. On June 11 at Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall, Takahashi lost the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship to the winner of the 2017 Best of the Super Juniors, Kushida. Later that same event, Naito lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The following month, three members of L.I.J. took part in the 2017 G1 Climax; Naito in block A and Evil and Sanada in block B. Naito won his block with a record of seven wins and two losses and advanced to the finals of the tournament. Meanwhile, Evil finished third in his block with a record of three losses and six wins, one of which came over the reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada. Sanada, who won the head-to-head match against Evil, finished in the middle of the block with a record of four wins and five losses. On August 13, Naito defeated Kenny Omega in the finals to win the 2017 G1 Climax. With Naito now fully embraced by the over 10.000 people in attendance, the win was seen as a conclusion of a four-year arc, which started with Naitos rejection by NJPW fans following his 2013 G1 Climax win and led directly to the creation of Los Ingobernables de Japon. In late 2017, Bushi and Takahashi started teaming regularly in NJPWs junior tag team division. On November 12, Los Ingobernables de Japon made their first appearance in Mexico, when Naito and Takahashi returned to CMLL to team with Rush. The three were defeated in a six-man tag team match, when Rush allowed Volador Jr. to pin himself, reaffirming his previous invitation for Volador to join Los Ingobernables. In December, Evil and Sanada won their block in the 2017 World Tag League with a record of five wins and two losses, advancing to the finals of the tournament. On December 11, they defeated Guerrillas of Destiny in the finals to win the tournament. Six days later, Bushi, Evil and Sanada lost the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship to Guerrillas of Destiny and Bad Luck Fale in their fourth defense.
On January 4, 2018, at Wrestle Kingdom 12 in Tokyo Dome, Evil and Sanada defeated the Killer Elite Squad Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Lance Archer to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship for the first time. In the main event of the show, Naito unsuccessfully challenged Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. At Wrestling Hinokuni, Naito defeated Minoru Suzuki to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. He eventually lost the title to Chris Jericho at Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall. At the G1 Special in San Francisco, Takahashi successfully defended his title against Dragon Lee, but suffered a broken neck during the match, resulting in him becoming inactive and having to vacate the title.
On October 8, 2018 at King of Pro Wrestling, fourteen years-Dragon Gate veteran Shingo Takagi made his surprise NJPW debut as L.I.J. s sixth member, teaming up with Naito, Bushi and Sanada to defeat CHAOS. Takagi would go on to compete in the Junior Heavyweight division, and would stay both undefeated in singles matches and overall unpinned and unsubmitted until June 2019; during this period, he suffered only three defeats in 72 consecutive matches, all of which were tag team matches in which a partner was pinned. He would quickly form a tag team with Bushi; they competed in the Super Junior Tag Tournament, advancing to the finals at Power Struggle where they lost to Roppongi 3K in a Three-way tag team match also involving Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado of Suzuki-Gun.
At Wrestle Kingdom 13, all five active members of the stable won titles: Naito regained the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Jericho, Evil and Sanada won the IWGP Tag Team Championship by defeating Guerrillas of Destiny and The Young Bucks, and Bushi and Takagi won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship by defeating Kanemaru and El Desperado and Roppongi 3K. On February 2 at The New Beginning in Sapporo, Bushi and Takagi retained their titles against Kanemaru and El Desperado, while Evil and Sanada retained their titles against Minoru Suzuki and Zack Sabre Jr., and Naito retained the Intercontinental Championship against Taichi. All five champions lost their titles during the following two months, with Evil and Sanada losing their titles to Guerrillas of Destiny on February 23 at Honor Rising: Japan 2019, Bushi and Takagi losing theirs to Roppongi 3K on March 6 at NJPWs 47th Anniversary Show, and Naito losing the Intercontinental Championship to Kota Ibushi On April 6 at G1 Supercard; also at G1 Supercard, Evil and Sanada lost a Winner takes all four-way tag team match for both their old title and the ROH World Tag Team Championship, which was won by the Guerrillas of Destiny.
From May to June 2019, both Bushi and Takagi took part in the Best of Super Juniors tournament. While Bushi would fail to advance in Block B with 12 points with six wins and three losses, Takagi won block A by winning all nine of his matches and scoring 18 points; this set up a new record for most victories within the same block, as well as a new record for most points scored at the tournament not counting the original 1988 tournament which used a different point system. He eventually lost in the finals against Block B winner Will Ospreay on June 5, marking his first defeat in New Japan as a singles competitor. The match received considerable acclaim, with Dave Meltzer giving it a rare five and three-quarter out of five rating and calling it "the best junior heavyweight match I’ve ever seen and one of the best matches in any division"; it would go on to be Takagis final match and only singles loss in the Junior Heavyweight division.
At Dominion 6.9 in Osaka-jo Hall, Naito regained the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Ibushi, Evil and Sanada failed to capture the Tag Team titles from the Guerrillas of Destiny, and Takagi defeated heavyweight Satoshi Kojima; after his win, Takagi announced his decision to move to the Heavyweight division and declared himself an entrant for the G1 Climax. At the G1 Climax, Evil and Sanada competed in Block A while Naito and Takagi competed in Block B, but all four failed to reach the finals. After defeating him during the G1 Climax, Jay White received a title match for Naitos IWGP Intercontinental Championship at Destruction in Kobe, where Naito lost the match and title.
1.4. History New Japan domination 2019-present
In November 2019 at Power Struggle, after Bushi unsuccessfully challenged Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, Hiromu Takahashi made his return after sixteen months of absence, challenging Ospreay for a future title match at Wrestle Kingdom 14, which Ospreay accepted. His return match took place on December 19, 2019, during the Road to Tokyo Dome event, 530 days after his last match, with he and Bushi losing to Ospreay and Robbie Eagles.
Wrestle Kingdom 14 was highly successful for Los Ingobernables de Japon ; on the first night on January 4, 2020, Takashi defeated Ospreay to become a three-time IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, while Naito regained the IWGP Intercontinental Championship from Jay White, therefore gaining a spot in the following nights main event, where he would face IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada for both titles. On the second night on January 5, he defeated Okada, becoming the first person in history to hold both titles and winning the main event of Wrestle Kingdom for the first time in his career, while Bushi, Evil and Takagi defeated four other teams in a Gauntlet match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship, making both Bushi and Evil record-tying four time holders of the title. In other matches the second night, Sanada failed to capture the British Heavyweight Championship from Zack Sabre Jr. making him the only member of the stable not to leave Wrestle Kingdom as champion, and Takahashi teamed up with Ryu Lee to defeat Jushin Thunder Liger and Naoki Sano, in what was Ligers retirement match; after pinning Liger to win the match, Takahashi vowed to him that he would continue the legacy of the junior heavyweight division that Liger had started.
At The New Beginning in Sapporo on February 1, Takagi defeated Hirooki Goto to win the NEVER Openweight Championship, making him the first person to hold both NEVER titles at the same time and the second current double champion in Los Ingobernables de Japon with Naito, and giving Los Ingobernables de Japon five of NJPWs eight titles simultaneously including four of the five singles titles. At The New Beginning in Osaka on February 9, Takahashi successfully defended his title against Ryu Lee who had injured him and put him out of action for sixteen months in July 2018, while Naito successfully defended both of his titles against Kenta; both Takahashi and Naito then agreed to face each other in a future match.
Dave Meltzer wrote on his Wrestling Observer Newsletter that prior to the formation of L.I.J., Naito was known as "something of a genius in the ring for his ability to lay out matches", but noted that "something didnt click", calling his reception "a combination of some fans booing, and some apathy". However, after copying the Los Ingobernables concept he had seen in Mexico, Naito, according to Meltzer, became "more and more popular for being different", with L.I.J. dress clothes, shirts and masks becoming "the cool wrestling merchandise". According to former Bullet Club leader Kenny Omega, L.I.J. took over Bullet Clubs status as "the hottest thing around". When Naito won the 2016 MVP award for Wrestler of the Year from Tokyo Sports, the magazine called Los Ingobernables de Japon a phenomenon that had ushered in a new era. Naitos win ended a five-year run in which the award had been won by either Hiroshi Tanahashi or Kazuchika Okada. The following year, Naito became the fifth wrestler to win the award in consecutive years.
L.I.J. also gained fans outside of professional wrestling. Teruo Iwamoto, a retired soccer player who had represented the Japanese national team, was a lapsed professional wrestling fan until seeing L.I.J. He went on to become close friends with members of the stable, was teased as a possible tag team partner for Naito in the 2016 World Tag League, and was eventually given the honorary role of L.I.J.s "public relations manager".
During 2017, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team released Carp de Japon and Tranquilo de Carp shirts, both designed with an L.I.J. theme.
3. Championships and accomplishments
- Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre
- CMLL World Welterweight Championship 1 time – Bushi
- NEVER Openweight Championship 2 times, current – Evil 1 and Takagi 1, current
- IWGP Tag Team Championship 2 times – Evil and Sanada
- IWGP Intercontinental Championship 5 times, current – Naito
- World Tag League 2017, 2018 – Evil and Sanada
- Best of the Super Juniors 2018 – Takahashi
- New Japan Cup 2016 – Naito
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship 4 times, current – Bushi 1 and Takahashi 3, current
- NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship 4 times, current – Bushi, Evil and Sanada 3 and Bushi, Evil and Takagi 1, current
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship 2 times, current – Naito
- IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship 1 time – Bushi and Takagi
- G1 Climax 2017 – Naito
- New Japan Pro-Wrestling
- Ranked Evil No. 61 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2019
- Ranked Takagi No. 67 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2019
- Ranked Takahashi No. 27 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2018
- Ranked Sanada No. 42 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2019
- Ranked Naito No. 9 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2018
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ranked Bushi No. 82 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2016
- Ring of Honor
- ROH World Championship 1 time – Lethal
- MVP Award 2016, 2017 – Naito
- Tokyo Sports
- Best Bout Award 2019 – Sanada vs. Kazuchika Okada on October 14 at King of Pro-Wrestling
- Best Gimmick 2017 – Bushi, Evil, Takahashi, Sanada, and Naito
- Match of the Year 2019 – Takagi vs. Will Ospreay on June 5 at the Best of the Super Juniors finals
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Most Charismatic 2017, 2018 – Naito
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