Shinsuke Nakamura is a Japanese professional wrestler and MMA fighter who now competes on SmackDown for the World Wrestling Entertainment. Shinsuke, who was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan, was bullied as a child. He unwittingly determined the trajectory of his destiny with his ambition to be able to protect himself and his fondness for wrestling shows on television. He began wrestling with New Japan Pro Wrestling and remained there for 14 years, becoming one of Japan’s most popular wrestlers in the process. He earned the IWGP’s Heavyweight champion at the age of 23, making him the promotion’s youngest Heavyweight champion ever.
He has won the Intercontinental championship and the tag team titles in the IWGP several times. His victory in the New Japan Cup competition in 2014 caught the attention of American promoters, and despite being well-versed in MMA, jiu-jitsu, and other martial arts, he passed on the UFC in favor of WWE. He was a part of NXT before becoming a major WWE rooster, and his performance there led to him making his main WWE rooster debut through SmackDown in April 2017.
Shinsuke Nakamura Childhood & Early Life
He, like most Japanese families, grew up in a very regimented environment, although only for a short time. His timidity and physical infirmity became a laughingstock among his classmates as he began school, and he was frequently ridiculed. His siblings made fun of him for not being able to stand up and fight for himself.
Nakamura was an avid anime fan who enjoyed drawing SG Gundam, the popular series’ characters, and had never really considered pursuing a career in professional wrestling. However, he had to stop being bullied at school, which prompted him to begin exercising to grow stronger so that he could defend himself. During this time, his passion for wrestling grew, and while he was in junior high, he acquired a book called “How to Be a Pro Wrestler.”
He played basketball in school and also studied karate and jiu-jitsu, and when he discovered that it was something that piqued his attention, he began to consider a career in martial arts and loved Jackie Chan. He also participated in school plays, drawing influence from Jackie Chan films, and continued to fantasize about relocating to China after school was finished.
Everything changed when he joined his high school’s amateur wrestling team; after a year, he was named captain, and in 1998, he won the JOC cup, gaining first place. After that, it was all about him and fighting, and he trained for MMA, kickboxing, wrestling, and bodybuilding. His first success came in September 2001, when he was chosen for the New Japan Pro Wrestling, and he never looked back.
Shinsuke Nakamura Career
His tactics were unrivaled, as were his speed and strength, and these attributes, along with a youthful charm and flamboyance, immediately made him a beloved fighter in the NJPW. After only a few battles in his first year with the company, he won the title of ‘Super Rookie.’
In his first real MMA battle, he met Daniel Gracie in December 2002 and lost, which was a huge setback for Nakamura. However, he made a strong return in his second bout against Jan Nortje in early 2003, and later that year, he overcame Shane Eitner.
The next bout of his career came in December 2003, when he faced the defending IWGP Heavyweight champion Hiroyoshi Tenzan. Nakamura was 23 at the time, and after a thrilling bout, he overcame his opponent to become the IWGP Heavyweight champion’s youngest ever.
MUST-READ: How To Become An MMA Fighter? Read To Know!
In mid-2004, he was given the opportunity to win another title in the shape of the NWF Heavyweight championship against Yoshihiro Takayama, and he successfully unified his championship, but the battle was too much for his body, and he was wounded. The injury prompted him to relinquish his championship, and when he returned to the ring fully recovered, he had the opportunity to reclaim it against Bob Sapp, but he was unsuccessful.
Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi won the IWGP tag team championship in December 2004 after defeating Kensuke Sasaki and Minoru Suzuki. They defended the title several times until losing it a year later against a tag team known as ‘Cho-Ten.’
In January 2006, Nakamura’s challenge for a championship fight was accepted by Brock Lesnar, the incumbent IWGP Heavyweight Champion, and Nakamura was defeated. This defeat was particularly difficult for Nakamura, and he began polishing his abilities, even more, acquiring some muscular mass in the process, with Brock Lesnar agreeing to assist him.
Nakamura tried unsuccessfully to reclaim the championship on multiple occasions. In 2012, he won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship against Hirooki Goto, which was his third major title triumph. In August 2012, Nakamura successfully defended his championship against Oliver John in a Sacramento Wrestling Federation event, and he went on to make further eight successful title defenses before facing La Sombra in the ring in May 2013, where he lost after a 313-day reign as champion.
However, he reclaimed the title from La Sombra in July for a second stint as IWGP Intercontinental champion, then Hiroshi Tanahashi took the championship from Nakamura in January 2014. He won the New Japan Cup event the following year, and he reclaimed the championship around the same time, making him a three-time champion. Nakamura would lose and reclaim the championship several times over the following several months, and by the conclusion of his stay with the NJPW, he had won the title five times.
Official news regarding Nakamura joining WWE with the NXT squad was made in January 2016. With a new skill set, Nakamura won his first several battles in NXT, and in August 2016, he defeated Samoa Joe to become the NXT Champion. After losing and reclaiming the championship from Joe, Nakamura lost it to Bobby Roode in January 2017 and attempted but failed to reclaim it.
On April 4, 2017, he made an unexpected appearance on SmackDown, interrupting The Miz and Marise and beginning a feud with Dolph Ziggler, whom he eventually beat at Backlash. Nakamura also tried unsuccessfully to win the Money in the Bank challenge, injuring himself in the process, although he recovered fast.
Nakamura, on the other hand, defeated John Cena for a shot at the WWE Championship against Jinder Mahal on August 1st but lost the championship battle at SummerSlam 2017. However, after defeating Randy Orton on September 5th, he regained his position as the number one contender.
ALSO READ: Is Car Racing An Olympic Sport? Know Here!