We continue our countdown to Jyushin Thunder Liger’s retirement.
In 1998, another championship was added to the IWGP trophy case, as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships were inaugurated in August. Tatsuhito Takaiwa and Shinjiro Otani would be the first holders of belts Liger would claim six times with different partners.
While Liger and partner El Samurai were part of the inaugural champion deciding league, he was successful in singles competition. On February 7 he would defeat Otani to start his ninth IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship reign, and his second longest run with the title, at 403 days. Otani’s hard strikes were not enough to put Liger away, and a new champion was born after a top rope brainbuster.
As Liger dominated the title scene with eight defences over the coming months, a frustration would begin to build in the champion about the state of his competition; frustration that would lead to a shocking change of character the next year.