No matter what country or language spoken, pro wrestling is proven to be a universal form of entertainment. A recent example of that is the immediate popularity of NXT champion Shinsuke Nakamura.
The unique Japanese WWE superstar brings a unique mix of showmanship and in-ring ability that has resonated with fans. It also doesn’t hurt the “King of Strong Style” walks to the ring with one of the best entrance themes in recent memory.
Despite being a relatively recent addition to WWE, the 36-year-old achieved legendary status over the course of 14 years in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The veteran won pretty much every major title within the organization.
“I did everything in New Japan,” Nakamura said.
“I wanted to find something new. So I signed with WWE.”
Thanks to technology and the various ways to watch NJPW, many were already familiar with Nakamura. The major acquisition drew much anticipation, and he did not disappoint. Interesting enough, in comparison to others, Nakamura wasn’t watching WWE growing up.
“Japan had a huge wrestling culture,” Nakamura. “So I was not really a fan of WWE as a child. It was much different than the Japanese style before. We had foreign wrestlers who came from America, Europe. Everyone from all over also ended up going to WWE. I did like Andre the Giant. I can’t imagine what it would be like to fight with him. I want to fight like him.”
He hasn’t felt any added pressure working for sports entertainment juggernaut. Nakamura is just enjoying the ride and embracing his new surroundings.
“I’m in NXT now,” he said.
“Almost every day I am at the WWE Performance Center. I have gotten a chance to talk with Terry Taylor. His opinion has been very interesting for me. He knows there is a psychology and certain things American fans like. I really enjoy studying from him…Most NXT guys are young guys. They keep me young working with them. They challenge me in a different way. I can teach them and also can study. I learn from them.”
Nakamura is happy to bring more Japanese eyes to WWE with his transition. Knowing NJPW alum like AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Doc Gallows and Finn Bálor has made him feel more at home. There are high hopes for the charismatic performer, who speaks and understands English. Nakamura is seen as the Japanese wrestler to go further in WWE than anyone in history and become a legitimate international megastar.
He has also embraced American culture including its music. Elements of Freddie Mercury and a certain “King of Pop” certainly shine through in his work.
“Not only Michael Jackson,” Nakamura said. “Inspiration comes from my life; my whole life. That is where I draw from. I travel and get inspired by everybody and everything.”
Less than a year in the grappler is already enjoying success. He defeated Samoa Joe for the NXT championship at TakeOver: Brooklyn II the night before SummerSlam.
“I know Samoa Joe coming up maybe at 22,” Nakamura said. “I know his technique. He has good technique. He has this rare technique that is strong with not only wrestling, but MMA fighting. I also know similar techniques, so it’s nice to face him in NXT. He is a big challenge.”
Nakamura is looking forward to his future with WWE. The idea of being included in the new “WWE 2K17,” out October 11, brings a smile to his face.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I scan and they did a good job with me. For motion capture, TJ Perkins told me he did my motion capture. He says, ‘So if something slips or is wrong, I’m sorry.’ I also know TJ when he was a teenager. So that’s awesome.”
He has hopes of reaching the top of the company ladder by becoming WWE champion. Nakamura is ready for matches against opponents both unfamiliar and familiar. There is the potential of another go-round with Brock Lesnar.
“If I get a chance, I would be up for that,” Nakamura said.
“My body would need to be ready because he is tough. Ouch.”
- Watch NXT 8 p.m. ET Wednesdays on WWE Network.
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