Fact: Shinsuke Nakamura has the best theme song in WWE.
Okay, maybe that’s just my opinion, but here are some legitimate facts about SmackDown’s resident rock star.
1. He’s the Youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in History
Prior to signing with WWE, Nakamura made a name for himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Not only is he a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, but he’s also the youngest wrestler to have ever held the title. Nakamura was just 23 years old when he defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan for the championship in 2003.
2. He Used To Train – And Live – with Daniel Bryan
Shinsuke Nakamura and Daniel Bryan couldn’t seem more different outside the ring, but inside the ring, their wrestling styles are both characterized by hard strikes and masterful technique. Perhaps that’s because they’re both students of the Inoki Dojo, a facility founded by WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki in Santa Monica, Calif. Furthermore, Nakamura actually lived with Bryan while they trained at the dojo in the early 2000s. Talk about an odd couple.
3. He’s In a Pharrell Williams Music Video
Remember Pharrell Williams’s hit song “Happy” from the movie Despicable Me 2? Well, Nakamura is one of two NJPW wrestlers who appear in the Japanese version of the music video (the other being Kazuchika Okada). Nakamura’s inclusion in the music video is a testament to the level of fame he’d reached in his home country before making the jump to WWE.
4. He Almost Came To WWE in 2006
Nakamura left NJPW for WWE in 2016, but he almost made his debut with the company a decade earlier. In 2006, Nakamura faced reigning IWGP Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar – and lost. The loss inspired Nakamura to go on a world tour and become a better wrestler. As part of this world tour, NJPW president Simon Inoki discussed “loaning” Nakamura to WWE so that he could learn from the best, but the deal didn’t work out.
One other note: Nakamura’s entire drive for going on that world tour was that he wanted to one day beat Lesnar. Now they’re both in WWE. A dream rematch more than a decade in the making? Book it, Vince!
5. He Wrestled A Unification Match Against Kurt Angle
For some complicated reasons that I won’t get into, there were actually two IWGP Heavyweight Championships in 2008: the original, held by Nakamura, and the IGF version, held by Kurt Angle. In an effort to stop the confusion, Nakamura and Angle squared off to determine once and for all who was the one true IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Nakamura won.
As you can see by the accolades listed above – which are just a few in his insanely decorated career – Nakamura is a way bigger deal than a lot of WWE fans probably realizes. There’s definitely a WWE world title reign in his future, and perhaps it will happen sooner rather than later.
Are you a fan of Shinsuke Nakamura? What do you hope for his WWE career? Share your comments below!