The J-Crown was originally a unified version of 8 junior heavyweight titles, set up by New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1996. It came about due to the various scatterings of the current titles, which included things like The Great Sasuke from Michinoku Pro holding New Japan's IGWP Junior Heavyweight Title, and Shinjiro Ohtani of New Japan holding the WWA World Junior Heavyweight Title from Mexico. So from August 2 through August 5, 1996, New Japan hosted an 8 man tournament, with the winner being declared the J-Crown Champion, getting a nice trophy, and getting each belt presented to him by young Japanese women in swimsuits.

The competitors and the belts represented were as follows:


Here were the results of said tourney:

Sasuke was crowned first J-Crown champion on that night, but then lost the title to the man he defeated, the Ulitmo Dragon, on October 11 of that year. Now, the Dragon was also under contract in the United States with WCW, so this is where most American wrestling fans are familiar with the J-Crown. The Dragon showed off the belts in the states while managed by Sonny Oono, and for a few days he unified the WCW Cruiserweight Title (after winning it at Starcade '96) with the J-Crown. Unfortunately, he lost the original 8 titles to Jushin "Thunder" Liger on January 4, 1997. Liger held all 8 titles until June 6, 1997, when he had to defend only the WAR International Title, and lost it to Yuuji Yasuraoka. The remaining 7 titles were kept unified, and exactly one month later El Samurai defeated Liger for them. Then on August 10, Shinjiro Ohtani won the J-Crown, and held it until November 5, 1997. That was the date that the World Wrestling Federation requested their previously forgotten Light Heavyweight title back to promote a new version of the division, which they've more or less trashed. Thank you, Vince. In any case, Ohtani also vacated all the other titles except the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title, since he was a regular in New Japan. And that was the end of the J-Crown, it should have been a worldwide legacy. Ah well...

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