The Black Savior. The Samurai of NJPW. The King of Strong Style. Shinsuke Nakamura has been and remains all of these things. He may also be the best in the world today. The current, as of this writing, reigning, defending, IWGP Intercontinental Champion is a man with as much charisma, as much star power, as any one professional wrestler could dream of having. Look at his entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 9.
That, my friends, is how it’s done. Listen to the reaction he gets. The excitement, the sheer joy from the voices in attendance, it’s amazing (especially considering that Wrestle Kingdom takes place in a baseball stadium). Look at that magnificent crown, that insane cape; it’s a fitting attire for a king. Listen to the commentators; even if you don’t speak Japanese (I certainly don’t), you cannot help but understand the excitement. And then the movement. This is a man who knows exactly how to work a crowd. It’s fantastic. Equal parts Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, and insane ass kicker. He even put his moves on display for the Japanese video for Happy.
It’s not all peacocking with Nakamura though. He has an incredible amount of in-ring skill to back up that charisma. This is a guy who went from being a “super-rookie” to a world traveled superstar to arguably the best in the world in about twelve years. That is a rapid progression and comes from a ton of hard work. He can wrestle any style and do so better than damn near anybody. He is equal parts grace and violence. His finisher, the boma ye, is a brutal knee to the face. He can hit it at any time which makes it so exciting to see. Watch his match against Hiroshi Tanahashi from Wrestle Kingdom 8 to get a good idea of just what he is capable of. (bonus guitar intro from Marty Friedman of Megadeth fame!)
Nakamura is a legit fighter as well owning an MMA record of 3-1. A lot of Japanese wrestlers also have MMA fights under their belt and while Nakamura hasn’t had a fight since 2004, he could and may return to the cage any time.
With the recent exposure of NJPW to American audiences, Nakamura is poised to become, somehow, a bigger deal than he already is. Watch the small selection of matches below, really watch them, and see for yourself why the King of Strong Style is the Best in the World.