Shinsuke Nakamura was surprised Keiji Muto picked him as an opponent, wants to go all out in their match

Ahead of NOAH's 'The New Year' show, Shinsuke Nakamura speaks about the upcoming bout against The Great Muta (Keiji Muto)

Photo Courtesy: Pro Wrestling NOAH

Nakamura returning to NOAH for the first time since 2013. 

Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan is playing host to Pro Wrestling NOAH’s ‘The New Year’ event on January 1st, 2023. 

It has been confirmed that WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura is heading back to NOAH for the first time since 2013 to face Great Muta (Keiji Muto) as a part of Muto’s retirement tour which will conclude at the Tokyo Dome in February. 

Days away from the match, NOAH published an interview on their site with Nakamura. He shared that he was surprised to find out Muto wanted to face him seeing as how they did not have a student-mentor relationship. Nonetheless, Nakamura is excited about the opportunity and has always admired Muto. 

I was surprised. We didn’t have a direct master-disciple relationship. Keiji Muto and I had no direct master-disciple relationship. I lost both times we fought. In a way, as a professional wrestler, I couldn’t have a good impression of Keiji Muto. But when I heard that [he wanted to face me], I wondered if somewhere in my heart Mr. Muto was thinking about me. I was surprised and happy at the same time. I was also happy that Keiji Muto would name me as his last opponent before he retired, because it brought me back to the way I felt when I was a kid as a fan. That’s great! I thought, wow! I wanted to say to my childhood self, you’re awesome! Even though I had admired him from the moment I became a professional wrestler, I knew I would be an enemy in the industry, so I had a pompous attitude from the time I was a youngster. Of course, when I compare myself to various wrestlers, such as Keiji Muto, who I idolized as a child, the Great Muta, and Masahiro Chono, I always saw them as my enemies and competitors. I had lost twice to Mr. Muto in particular… I feel that I was given an opportunity to interact with him that will never come again.

When it comes to what kind of match Nakamura wants to have with Muto, he is hoping to go all out. He added that Muto has his own ‘peculiarities’, but wants to enjoy it to the fullest. 

Well, I would like to go all out if I could, but my opponent is the Great Muta, who has his own peculiarities. First of all, this will be the first and last Great Muta match of my wrestling career, so I want to enjoy it and savor it to the fullest.

Looking back to when he heard the announcement of Muto’s retirement, Nakamura viewed it as a change from one era to the next. He went on to state that he’s always thought Muto was stubborn. 

I felt that one era was changing to the next. But on the other hand, I thought he was pretty stubborn. Even when he fought me twice in the IWGP, I thought, he’s still going for it! But then, you won the belt again in NOAH. I thought he was stubborn.

In addition to Nakamura versus Muta, the GHC Tag Team Championships will be on the line as KENTA and Naomicihi Marufuji challenge Satoshi Kojima and Takashi Sugiura for the belts.

About Andrew Thompson 8465 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.