Shinsuke Nakamura may be a name that you’ve
only recently become familiar with, but trust me when I say he has been a star his entire
wrestling career. He’s got a great look, a ton of charisma, and is awesome in the ring
with his unique style. Though he’s only just now come over to WWE, he’s been entertaining
audiences for well over a decade, and today we’re going to cover how all that happened.
I present to you, Wrestling Origins: Shinsuke Nakamura.
Before we even get into this I want to apologize for my pronunciation with some of these words,
names and phrases. Also, I’d like to point out that at this time, Nakamura’s autobiography
is not available in English so some information about his childhood I am unable to confirm.
With that out of the way, let’s get into it.
Shinsuke Nakamura, which is his real name, was born in Kyoto, Japan in February of 1980.
Nakamura was just your average kid. He liked his anime and was a big fan of the SD Gundam
series, and loved to draw the characters from it.
Though I can’t confirm this, it’s also said that as a kid Nakamura was bullied quite
bad by classmates and wouldn’t fight back. He was a passive child, and also apparently
was deemed a “crybaby” by his sisters, who constantly scolded him. This was one reason
he always wanted to be able to defend himself. Shinsuke also encountered pro-wrestling when
he was young. Among his friends, he was the biggest wrestling fan and once during a field
trip to Tokyo in Junior High, he bought a book called “How to be a Pro-Wrestler”.
I’m not sure how effective the book was, but it shows Nakamura’s dedication nonetheless.
During his younger years, Nakamura also played basketball and practiced martial arts such
as karate. At one point, Nakamura was sure he wanted to become a proper martial artist
like Jackie Chan and was planning to head to China after graduating school. However,
that changed when he was introduced to amateur wrestling in high school.
He joined the amateur wrestling club at school and would excel, quickly becoming captain.
In 1998, Shinsuke reportedly won 1st place at the JOC Cup at the 83kg class, followed
by placing fourth in the All Japan World Championship at 97 kilograms. Nakamura was no joke when
it came to wrestling. By this point, Nakamura was a bit conflicted
as to what he wanted to do. Not only was he a fan of wrestling, both amateur and pro,
but also followed K-1 kickboxing since it’s early days. He continued wrestling well into
university, and continued to do well. At the same time, Nakamura also practiced his MMA
skills. In September of 2001, Shinsuke Nakamura went
to a tryout for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and with his myriad of skills, he made it. He
would be initiated into the New Japan Dojo in March of 2002 where he would train to be
a pro-wrestler. He would debut in NJPW in August of 2002 against Tadao Yasuda. Here
in New Japan he quickly began rising the ranks and making a name for himself. Many saw him
as a major prospect, which earned him the nickname Super Rookie.
By the time the end of the year came, Nakamura decided to he wanted to compete as a martial
artist as well. He competed in a combat sport that was essentially no holds barred, as in
almost anything goes, and had fighters using multiple fighting styles. Think of it like
today’s MMA with less rules. On December 31st, 2002, Shinsuke Nakamura competed in
his first fight against Daniel Gracie, but lost via submission. But hey, it was a Gracie,
you can’t really hold that against him. At this point Nakamura was simultaneously
competing in New Japan and MMA. His second fight would come on May 2nd, 2003 when he
defeated Jan the Giant, a 300+ pound man, with a guillotine submission. His next fight
was later that year in September, where he won by submission as well.
On December 9th, 2003, Shinsuke Nakmura was given a shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
He faced off against Hiroyoshi Tenzan and won it to become the youngest ever to win
the title. He would defend the title once in January of 2004, but was forced to vacate
it just a month after that due to an injury. When he returned, Nakamura received a title
shot against the current champion, actor, fighter, and wrestler Bob Sapp. However, Nakamura
was defeated by the defending champ. Just a few weeks later, Nakamura returned
to MMA for his last fight where he defeated Alexey Ignashov via submission, just like
the rest of his wins. Presumably, Nakamura gave up MMA to focus on his wrestling career,
but that doesn’t mean those talents went to waste. Over the years, Nakamura evolved
his wrestling style into what is called “Strong Style”, which combines a lot of strikes
such as knees and kicks with submission based wrestling. Now this style of his wasn’t
really developed in 2004 so I’ll touch upon it again later.
Jumping ahead to December of that year, Nakamura and his new partner Hiroshi Tanahashi became
the IWGP Tag Team champions. The two served as champions for about 10 months until they
dropped the titles to Cho-Ten in October. During that time, Nakamura and his partner
squared off once during the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship, which Nakamura won. The pair
would also defend their belts while they spent time in Mexico, defeating the team of Rey
Bucanero and Olimpico. In early January of 2006, Shinsuke Nakamura
challenged IWGP Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar for the belt, but would be defeated.
Just a few short months later in March, Nakamura announced that he was taking some time off
to hone his wrestling skills. During this time, Nakamura would head overseas, putting
on some muscle and training to get better in the ring. It was even suggested that he
be loaned to WWE to gain experience with the large American shows, but Nakamura was urgently
needed back in New Japan after Brock Lesnar left.
Returning in September 2006, Nakamura became a part of the “Black” stable which was
intent on reforming the wrestling promotion. Soon, Nakamura would be in the title picture
once again. In December of 06, Shinsuke failed to capture the IWGP Heavyweight belt from
Tanahashi, and was unsuccessful once again in January 2007 when he lost to Toshiaki Kawada.
Nakamura would then compete in the 2007 G1 Climax tournament where he made it to the
semifinals before dislocating his shoulder. This injury would sideling Nakamura for months.
However, when he returned, Nakamura took over Black and reformed the stable under the new
name of RISE which consisted of Prince Devitt and Low Ki among others.
Finally, by the time January 2008 rolled around Nakamura was firmly in the title picture once
again and this time would defeat his rival Tanahashi to win the Heavyweight title. Just
after that, Nakamura would face Kurt Angle in a match that would unify the New Japan
belt with the IGF version, which Nakamura won. However, he would drop the title in April
to a wrestler from All Japan Pro Wrestling. Nakamura would be unable to capture this belt
back when the two had a rematch in February 2009.
In April of 2009, Shinsuke Nakamura turned heel. He formed and led a new group called
Chaos. It was at this point in his career that Nakamura fully adopted the “Strong
Style” approach, using a rough combination of knees and straight punches along with his
new finisher, Bomaye, a devastating knee to the head. This is when Nakamura became the
“King of Strong Style”, a moniker that has stuck with him throughout the rest of
his career. This reinvented Nakamura would win the IWGP
Heavyweight Championship for the third time in September 2009. From here, Shinsuke would
go on a crazy run, defending his title 6 times until finally losing it in May of 2010 to
Togi Makabe. Following this loss, Nakamura was out of action with shoulder injury for
over a month. Once he eventually got his rematch, Nakamura would lose to Makabe again.
Fast forwarding to 2011, Nakamura would win the G1 Climax tournament that year to earn
a title shot, but would lose to Tanahashi once again. A new era in Nakamura’s career
would begin in July of 2012, when he won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship for the
first time. This would be the start of his legendary Intercontinental runs which culminated
in him being the greatest IWGP Intercontinental Champion of All Time.
Nakamura would defend his belt multiple times against names like Karl Anderson, Kazushi
Sakuraba, and Shelton X Benjamin. He would end up with eight title defences and a reign
of 313 days when he finally lost it to La Sombra in 2013. However, later that year in
July Nakamura would regain his belt to become the first two-time holder of the title. He
would once again have a long reign, and finally lost in January of 2014 to long time rival
Hiroshi Tanahashi. After winning the 2014 New Japan Cup, Nakamura
took another shot at the Intercontinental Championship and won it for the third time,
but would lose it in only his second title defence. I think you’re starting to see
the trend here: Nakamura repeatedly chased the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and
would end up with a total of 5 reigns and over 900 days as champion, stretching into
early 2016. On January 4th, 2016, Shinsuke Nakamura successfully
defended his title against A.J. Styles in a bout that is already being touted by some
as the match of the year. However, as it turned out, Nakamura had decided to leave the promotion
that very same day to sign with WWE. Ironically, A.J. Styles also came to the same conclusion.
New Japan confirmed Shinsuke Nakamura’s departure on January 12th and stripped him
of his Intercontinental Championship. Nakamura would wrestle his final match under his New
Japan contract on January 30th of this year. After months of anticipation, Nakamura joined
the WWE and would debut on April 1st at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. Here he would defeat Sami
Zayn to solidify himself as a top contender in NXT. Since then, Nakamura has made a name
for himself among American fans and had a notable match with Austin Aries along the
way. Most recently, Shinsuke Nakamura challenged Finn Balor to a match that will air on July
13th. And that’s it, Wrestling Origins Shinsuke
Nakamura. I hope you enjoyed the video. If you did, consider leaving a like and subscribing
for more wrestling content. As always, thanks for watching!