Justin Barrasso
Tuesday August 23rd, 2016

When it comes to his potential in professional wrestling, Shinsuke Nakamura has barely begun to scratch the surface.

He did, however, just add a giant building block to his wrestling legacy by defeating Samoa Joe for the NXT championship this past Saturday at Takeover: Brooklyn II.

“Joe is special,” said Nakamura. “He is a real wrestler. He knows the real techniques of how to beat an opponent. He uses an MMA technique, so it’s real fighting. Also, I know that technique, so that’s what we show in the ring when we wrestle.”

The 36-year-old Nakamura is looking to enter parts unknown in WWE. Standing 6’2” at 220 pounds, he already muscled his way through New Japan Pro Wrestling–Nakamura is a three time IWGP heavyweight champion, a five time IWGP Intercontinental champion, and the G1 Climax winner in 2011–but the lure of success in WWE tempted Nakamura so strongly that he decided to uproot his entire life, switch companies and move continents.

Courtesy of WWE

As Nakamura pursues his dream, he looks to expand his own world by bringing his talent all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun to NXT. Yet a Japanese wrestler has never headlined a WrestleMania or worn the WWE heavyweight championship, and Nakamura understands what is needed to excel on the WWE’s main roster.

“I need to study English more,” Nakamura admitted. “I’ll start by watching Sesame Street every day.”

While Nakamura continues to master the English language, he remains confident in his ability to succeed in any wrestling ring across the globe.

“Wrestling has its own culture,” said Nakamura. “Every culture–Japan, Samoan, Indian, Korean–has wrestling, and wrestling is a worldwide mix.”

There is no doubt that Nakamura can wrestle. He has a strongly defined character–the “King of Strong Style”–for his hard-hitting ways. Nakamura grew up influenced by wrestlers with fierce and animated characters.

“My inspirations were ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Andre the Giant,” said Nakamura. “It was easy to understand their character.”

Nakamura’s WWE debut occurred on April 1 during WrestleMania weekend. He defeated Sami Zayn at Takeover: Dallas in Zayn’s farewell to NXT.

“We had good chemistry,” Nakamura admitted. “He’s another real wrestler. That was my first time wrestling Sami Zayn, but I quickly learned he’s a great wrestler.”

Next year, however, Nakamura plans on resting during the opening days of WrestleMania weekend–before wrestling, of course, on Sunday, April 2 at WrestleMania 33.

“I’d like to fight at WrestleMania,” said Nakamura, who even booked his own match. “John Cena–that’s a great choice.”

Attributing a great deal of his style to the enigmatic Michael Jackson and the elaborate decadence of Freddie Mercury, Nakamura–whose favorite drink is red wine–deceives opponents with his charm and charisma before the match, then rips them to shreds once the bell rings.

Although Nakamura would partake in an alcoholic beverage after a hard fought match during his time in Japan, his post-match ritual has changed in NXT.

“After match, in WWE, I do not drink alcohol,” said Nakamura, whose focus on greatness is his sole desire. “I just drink a lot of water.”

Nakamura still follows the product back home in Japan. Nakamura and Kenny Omega were scheduled to feud right before his departure for WWE, and he paid close attention to Omega’s historic victory in the G1 Climax.

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“Kenny did a good job, and I want to say congratulations to him,” said Nakamura. “I know the feeling. He wrestles to take care of the company, for the fans, and to take care of his opponent. He’s always looking for new ideas, so I can really relate to him.”

Nakamura embarked on a major life change, moving from Tokyo to Orlando, all for the pursuit of immortality in professional wrestling. He has embraced the move and holds no regrets, except for the one involving his favorite extracurricular activity–surfing.

“I am a ten-minute walk from the beach in my house in Japan, but in Orlando, I’m a one-hour drive from the beach,” said Nakamura. “I could go surfing every day, so that’s a big problem for me.”

Nakamura knows transcendence in the WWE is far from a certainty, but he hopes he does not have to conquer that challenge alone.

“Typical Japanese wrestling fans only know Japanese wrestling,” explained Nakamura. “Shinsuke Nakamura’s fans just started to watch WWE now, so I hope they expand their world with me.”


Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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