Amid the chaos surrounding the status of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s NEVER Openweight Championship, currently held by Karl Anderson, the IWGP United States Championship has firmly been established as the second-most important prize for heavyweight competitors in the company. This was proven when the title took center stage on night 16 of the NJPW Battle Autumn Tour on November 5.

The main event pitted champion Will Ospreay against Tetsuya Naito in a 30-minute war that saw the United Empire leader retain over "El Ingobernable." Ospreay retained his title with his patented Stormbreaker and announced an open challenge for the upcoming NJPW x STARDOM Historic X-Over show on November 20. The challenge was answered quicker than the champion expected, as the return of Shota Umino would be the lasting image of the night.

Interrupting Ospreay’s victory speech, the reborn "Roughneck" Shota Umino made his way to the ring to a thunderous ovation from the Osaka crowd. The former Young Lion dispatched of the United Empire and hit Ospreay with a Death Rider to make it clear to the world that his sights were set on the IWGP United States Championship.

Umino made a name for himself as the protégé of AEW World Champion Jon Moxley during the AEW star’s tours with NJPW in 2019. Moxley was synonymous with the IWGP United States Championship throughout his time with the company, making it fitting that Umino’s primary ambition post-excursion is to win the belt from Ospreay.

The final event of the Battle Autumn Tour was a big night for another returning young lion, as well. Umino’s contemporary, Ren Narita, marched forward to the finals of the NJPW World Television Championship Tournament following a victory over SANADA in the semifinals.