Wrestling / Shinsuke Nakamura

The King of Strong Style
"He loves Freddie Mercury. The former lead singer of Queen, for you kids that don't know, you can Google it. He's a Michael Jackson devotee. He's also called the King of Strong Style. Meaning he's a badass. How you can go from Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson, to being a badass, is a unique journey, but this multi-talented unique personality gets it done."
Jim Ross describing Shinsuke Nakamura during his entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 9.

Shinsuke Nakamura (born February 24, 1980 in Mineyama, Kyoto) is a Japanese professional wrestler and mixed martial artist, one of the primary mainstays of New Japan Pro-Wrestling through the first 13 years of his career.

After training at the New Japan dojo, Nakamura's career began in NJPW in 2002, where he quickly established himself as a bright young prospect due to his strength, speed, and technique, earning the nickname of "Super Rookie". He was regarded so highly that just 15 months into his career, he became the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in history at just 23 years old, a feat only made more remarkable by the fact that he endured a short MMA career endorsed by Antonio Inoki at the same time, ending up with a 3-1-1 record. Though his title reign was ended by injury, the next two years saw him move on to his one IWGP Tag Team Championship run with future Arch-Enemy Hiroshi Tanahashi, as well as two excursions to North America—the first with Tanahashi during said tag title reign, the second on his own for further development.

He came back from excursion number two as part of Masahiro Chono's Power Stable BLACK, specifically as the man Chono intended to make The Ace of the company. Chono ended up leaving the stable for a legends group, though, allowing Nakamura to reform it as RISE. Nakamura's rivalry with Tanahashi began to kick into high gear around this time, culminating in his victory over Tanahashi for his second turn as IWGP Heavyweight Champion. However, RISE would become splintered as several of the members later betrayed the team to join Togi Makabe's faction Great Bash Heel. The two groups proceeded to feud with each other, all the while slowly imploding simultaneously—a development which soon presented an opportunity to redirect both Nakamura's and New Japan's future direction.

During a match between Nakamura and Makabe, one of Makabe's closest allies in GBH, Toru Yano, betrayed Makabe to help Nakamura win. Shortly thereafter, Yano and Nakamura announced the disbandment of RISE and creation of the new faction CHAOS, consisting of nearly every member of GBH at the time not named Makabe or Tomoaki Honmanote . Shinsuke began to reinvent his persona into something akin to a Drunken Master without the actual drunkenness, as well as adopting a more violent wrestling style to go with it which made greater use of knee strikes and straight right hands, including his Boma Ye running knee finisher—a move which first gained infamy when it was used to take out Hiroshi Tanahashi and force him to vacate the world title.

Nakamura eventually faced Makabe for the vacated championship and won it for a third time. As champion, Nakamura declared his intent to resurrect strong style puroresu, which he considered a fallen art within New Japan, crowning himself with the nickname "The King of Strong Style". He lost the championship to Makabe after six months, and would make a series of unsuccessful title challenges since then, but continued to remain a mainstay in the company as well as obtain more gold following the creation of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

He became the third IC champion in July of 2012; said title reign would last for a record 313 days, which to this day is still the longest run in the championship's history. He went on to hold the championship four more times over the years, each time taking it back directly from the man that ended his previous run, including in the second longest title run in history as well at 227 days. Needless to say, Nakamura is infamously synonymous with the IWGP Intercontinental title. CHAOS remains one of NJPW's top active stables to this day, and through the stable, Shinsuke has also became something of a mentor and close friend to another young superstar realizing his potential as a future face of Shinnihon: "The Rainmaker" Kazuchika Okada.

On January 6, 2016 Nakamura confirmed in an interview with Tokyo Sports that he would be leaving New Japan and sign with WWE; he subsequently vacated his Intercontinental title later that month. He made his WWE debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, defeating Sami Zayn. On August 20, Nakamura defeated Samoa Joe to win the NXT Championship. He would later lose the championship at Takeover: Toronto to Joe in a rematch, only to win it back 15 days later at a house show in Osaka, Japan. He joined WWE's main roster on the SmackDown following WrestleMania 33.

Aside from New Japan, companies he has wrestled in periodically include CMLL, Ring of Honor, and Pro Wrestling NOAH. He was voted into the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 2015.

More on his career can be found here.


  • The Ace: Not many can claim to have beaten both John Cena and Randy Orton clean on live TV, both within the span of a month. At the time of this writing, he's only lost 3 matches since coming to the main roster, and one of them was due to Jinder Mahal cheating.
  • Achilles' Heel: If he has any, it's Americanized Heel tactics, something he's struggled with all the way back to NJPW. He's used to both the Japanese heel tactics which involve more brutality than anything, on top of himself being the one getting in the opponents head. However American heel tactics involves more stalling and subterfuge and it ends up turning the tables on him. Shown best in his NXT Title matches against Bobby Roode.
    • STILL an issue for him even after his move to the main Smackdown roster, which cost him his chance at the WWE Championship at Summerslam 2017.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Notes in interviews he was a puroresu geek in school, following magazines and trading tapes. Now he is one of the biggest stars in puro.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • Hiroshi Tanahashi. Or rather, Tanahashi views him as his grand rival, Nakamura views Tanahashi more as an endless thorn in his side he can't seem to get rid of.
    • His rivalry with Samoa Joe got real personal, real fast. With Joe actively trying to cripple Nakamura after he won the NXT championship from him. Nakamura responded in kind, mowing down security guards to get to Joe.
      Nakamura: You want my NXT championship?! Come get it. Do whatever you want! Your cheap, dirty trick, I DON'T CARE! I'll just beat you... with no mercy.
    • Baron Corbin after he attacked him from behind.
    • Jinder Mahal in summer 2017, a rivalry which prompted Shinsuke to go through John Cena and Randy Orton just for a chance to get at Jinder.
  • Beat Them at Their Own Game: Usually chosen to take on mixed martial arts competitors fighters due to his own MMA success.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Sure, Nakamura is flamboyant both in nature and in his entrances. But in the ring, he's a monster. Combine stiff knees, kicks, and mixed martial arts experience and you have one dangerous man.
  • Big Entrance: Quite possibly the best example comes from his entrance at Wrestle Kingdom 8 where he arrived with flaming pyros, a descending elevator to capture his presence, and Japanese strippers to accompany him for his championship defense.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Boma Ye/Kinshasa is not as visually spectacular as some other finishers, but being a freaking knee to the skull, you can be more or less sure that the opponent will not get up for a while.
  • Catch-Phrase: "YEAOH!", said at the end of his promos as an exclamation of his energy. Also talks about "the heat" as the personification of his fighting spirit and competition.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Dips into this in promos and matches.
  • Combination Attack: With Hiroshi Tanahashi, he had the Shining Wizard Triangle, in which he would perform his shining triangle and Tanahashi would do a shining wizard to the back of the opponent.
  • Confusion Fu: He says his style is to be fluid like water, always moving and slithering about to confuse his opponent.
  • Cross Through: One of four CHAOS members who frequently crossed through Ring of Honor in 2015, along with Kazuchika Okada and Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero and Trent Barreta).
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: MVP kicked a lot of ass around the 2011 G1 Climax, ever so briefly looking like he might be the one to advance out of block B. Nakamura had a sound strategy for putting the newcomer down, destroying his ribs, but he instinctively grabbed opening for the cross armbar, a big mistake as MVP's strong, uninjured arms allowed him to endure the hold and come to terms with the damage to his midsection. Plus there wouldn't have been enough wrestling and strikes for such an opening to present itself if Nakamura had just kicked MVP's ribs again while he was struggling with them instead of trying for a Boma Ye.
  • Finishing Move: Boma Ye/Kinshasa (running knee to the opponent's face or back of the head), Shining Triangle (a shining wizard which replaces the knee with locking a triangle choke), Landslide (Samoan Driver) and cross armbreaker variations.
  • Freudian Trio: Was the Id to two such trios in New Japan:
  • Hero Killer: Submitted El Hijo del Santo when in Mexico via triangle choke. It shocked the lucha libre world and sent waves towards Japan.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: In real life with Hirooki Goto, who entered New Japan in the same year as Nakamura, and helped him out with the NJPW tryouts in first place.
    • Also with Kazuchika Okada. When Nakamura left NJPW, the majority of his goodbye celebration featured him and Okada crying on each other, before Okada paraded him around the ring on his shoulders with tears falling from his eyes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: His martial arts training and interest in MMA/shoot fighting caught the interest of Antonio Inoki, who proceeded to exploit him in true Bad Boss light by putting him on a short but harsh MMA career. Nakamura ended up spending as much time off from New Japan for injuries as he did for excursions. Also, this meant he was the guy often put up to not only fight these guys, but to take their abuse on Inoki's whims. One particularly dickish example came at the 2004 Toukon Festival, when, angered for Nakamura thwarting negotiations to work a high profile match with Naoya Ogawa, Inoki ordered Kazuyuki Fujita, one of Nakamura's opponents, to shoot on him during the match. The ensuing No-Holds-Barred Beatdown included a really rough shoot kick to the face which knocked Shinsuke for a loop. But Inoki wasn't satisfied—so after the match was done, the head honcho came out personally and beat on Shinsuke some himself.
  • Hurricane Kick: One of his typical spots is a roundhouse kick followed into a spin kick if the opponent dodges the first, in the vein of Masaaki Mochizuki's Illusion.
  • I Know Amateur Wrestling: A multiple champion, with both world and national titles. He has additional training in MMA, Goju-ryu Karate and kung fu, the latter because Bruce Lee was his chilhood idol.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: His incredible ring jackets and attire somehow somehow pull this off.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: The cross armbar is a pretty simple hold, but it becomes much flashier done in flying or tilt-a-whirl variants like Shinsuke used to do.
  • My Name is Shinsuke Nakamura: How he introduces himself all the time to "those who don't know him". Normally preceded by "Do you wanna know...who I am?"
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The King of Strong Style. His finisher has this also, as boma ye literally means "kill him" in Lingala.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: He started practising martial arts not only because his love of puroresu and kung fu flicks, but also because he was bullied in school and wanted to fight it back.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Completely lost his flamboyant, cocky demeanor late in his match with Kota Ibushi at the 2013 G1 Climax, descending into an unsightly rage, and hitting endless brutal kicks and vicious stomps to Ibushi.
    • Their match at Wrestle Kingdom 9 followed suit, in part because of Ibushi mocking Nakamura's mannerisms early in the match. This time, however, Ibushi gave almost as good as he got from Nakamura.
  • Older Hero Versus Younger Villain: His feud with Baron Corbin & Jinder Mahal.
  • Power Stable: RISE, BLACK, G.B.H. and Chaos.
  • Power Trio: Noke Kekki-gun with Naofumi Yamamoto and Ryusuke Taguchi.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Back in his stay at the Aoyama University, he divided his time between the wrestling club and the painting club, which is not something you see in many pro wrestlers' background. Also, see the page quote. Good Ol' JR spelled it out perfectly.
  • Red Baron: Many. "The King of Strong-Style", "Super Rookie", "Child of God", "The Black Savior", "Supernova", and in Mexico, "El Samurai de NJPW" ("The Samurai of NJPW"). In Japan only, he also is called for some more lyrical ones, like "Erabareishi Kyuseishu" ("The Chosen Savior") and "Yoku Fukaki Gudosha" ("The One Who Seeks the Truth with Deep Desire").
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: If we go by the theory that Nakamura screaming his intentions to shoot on Naoya Ogawa was an attempt to make sure Ogawa knew he wasn't an easy target for any potential repeat of the Hashimoto incident rather than simply pronouncing a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Inoki's response with Fujita means Shinsuke all but assured the very situation he was trying to avoid.
  • Shout-Out: In 1974, the undefeated boxing World Heavyweight Champion George Foreman was scheduled to defend his title against former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali at an event in Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then known as Zaire. Ali was extremely popular with the Congolese people, to the point that they actively turned against Foreman for him and even chanted "Ali boma ye!", with "boma ye" meaning "kill him" in Lingala, one of the Congo's national languages. Ali would knock Foreman out in the eighth round to reclaim his title, and the fight would remain one of the most historic in boxing lore to this day. Naturally, despite not having been born yet at the time of the "Rumble in the Jungle" as it was called, Professional Wrestling's King of Strong Style went on to adopt the infamous "Boma ye" chant as the name of his running knee finishing move, and when WWE welcomed him in and called for a name change to the move, he just kept the same shout-out active by going for the city's name instead.
  • Tournament Arc:
    • Has competed in many G1 Climax, G1 Tag League, and New Japan Cup tournaments over the years, winning each tournament only once:
      • G1 Tag League in 2006 with Masahiro Chono.
      • G1 Climax in 2011. In fact he went undefeated for the entirety of this tournament. Two years prior at 2009's G1, he went undefeated until Togi Makabe upset him in the finals.
      • New Japan Cup in 2014.
    • Won two six-man tag team tournaments: the 2003 Teisen Hall Cup tournament with partners Hiro Saito and Tatsutoshi Goto, and the 2004 Yuko tournament with Blue Wolf and Katsuhiko Nakajima.
    • He and Koji Kanemoto won the 2006 National District tournament.
  • Troll: Has partook in master level trolling. Most recently, in their build to their NXT championship match, when Samoa Joe was bring restrained by half a dozen security guards, Nakamura reaches out and does the "got your nose!" routine. To Samoa freaking Joe.
  • True Companions: Aside from Hirooki Goto above, he's also formed quite a bond with most if not all of his long-running stablemates in CHAOS, especially Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, the only wrestler Nakamura trusted enough to take as a tag partner, as they share many points in common on their wrestling philosophies. Naturally, Nakamura's departure led Okada to invite and convince Goto to join CHAOS, so that's no longer an "aside" statement.
  • Unknown Rival: Invokes this on Tanahashi by trying to dismiss the man as some annoying gnat that just won't go away, but given the amount of times they've faced each other in big match situations, history leans more toward Tanahashi's account of them being grand rivals.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • He and Tanahashi are former IWGP Tag Team Champions together from their days as Young Lions. Then they went on to become grand rivals.
    • His past with Samoa Joe, whom he trained alongside with back in 2002 is brought up frequently during their many battles in late 2016.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Akebono, for the brief time they faced back in mid-2000. Naka said that, while Bono was a weird guy, he was also one of the most interesting wrestlers he had ever faced. (Being a grand sumo and such, he was basically a gigantic Puzzle Boss to wrestle.)
    • Nakamura bumped fists with Kota Ibushi after their incredibly intense IWGP Intercontinental title match at Wrestle Kingdom 9, then put Ibushi further over in his promo after the match.
    • Later bumped fists with AJ Styles after winning their match at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
    • Offered Sami Zayn a warm handshake and a hug after their match at NXT Takeover: Dallas.
    • He gave Finn Bálor the same treatment as Zayn after their (near) half hour long match on NXT, which was Bálor's sendoff before joining the main roster.