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Wrestling / Manabu Nakanishi

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The wrestling gorilla.

Manabu Nakanishi (born January 22, 1967) is a Japanese Professional Wrestler, famous for his work in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. An accomplished amateur wrestler, he debuted in the company in 1992 and showed promise by the Young Lions Cup three years later, which gained him a foreign stint in World Championship Wrestling under the name of Kurasawa. When he returned to NJPW, Nakanishi developed the character of a wrestling powerhouse, wild of both strength and personality, and became a decorated tag team wrestler. He also won alone the upset of the decade by beating Keiji Mutoh in his only G1 Climax victory, but Nakanishi still proved himself less successful in his singles career, and he was eventually forced to join his long time friend Yuji Nagata and his Fighting Club G-EGGS in order to weather the Mixed Martial Arts wave, waiting for a push that would never come. He became a bigger player after the NJPW exodus, but he then found himself playing a background role to new, younger talent like Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi. Since those times, Nakanishi has stayed relevant in the promotion through hopping at chances therea at there, finally winning his desired IWGP Heavyweight Championship and solidifying himself as one of the most rugged veterans of NJPW.

"Wild Tropes":

  • Achilles' Heel: He carried Kazuyuki Fujita to the third round in his first MMA fight yet lost a kickboxing match to a nobody in under two minutes, so it seems Nakanishi's Achilles heel in a real fight is being punched in the face.
  • Arch-Enemy: In real life, Kendo Kashin. It traced back to their young lion days, as Nakanishi received special treatment due to his legit wrestling credentials while Kashin (who has also a few wrestling accolades, but not so many) did not.
  • Bash Brothers: Has a lot of them. The main one is Yuji Nagata, but he has also teamed up with Satoshi Kojima (as Bull Powers), Osamu Nishimura (as Gotch-ism), Kendo Kashin (as Wild Soldiers), Scott Norton (as New Jurassic Powers), Takao Omori (as Wild Child), Yutaka Yoshie (as Big Mountains) and Strong Man (as Muscle Orchestra).
  • Big Damn Heroes: He and Montel Vontavious Porter stopped Takayuki Iizuka and Toru Yano from murdering Shinpei Nogami at the 2012 World Tag League
  • Big Eater: One of the biggest in Japanese professional wrestling. Images of his gigantic breakfasts, which often look more like dinners, are all around the internet.
  • The Big Guy: He's the strongest and one of the biggest wrestlers in the company, and has been a babyface for all his career in Japan. He even plays this role straight in teams and stables.
  • Blood Knight: He loves to wrestle and is not afraid of demonstrating it.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Has some of the traits, namely being a burly, loud hero who loves a good fight, though he is much less jolly than the trope usually implies.
  • Cast Speciation: Despite their similar backgrounds, Nakanishi decided to use a strength-based wrestling style to differentiate himself from Yuji Nagata, whom Nakanishi felt was much better than him at technical wrestling.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Has been considered the physically strongest native in NJPW. One of his biggest strength feats was German suplexing The Great freaking Khali.
  • Combat Pragmatist: To a point. He planned to lift Akebono in his Argentine rack and drop him over his tag team partner to eliminate them at once. However, it turned out Nakanishi was overestimating his own strength and he failed to lift the 500 pound Bono.
  • Combination Attack:
    • The East Gold, in which Nakanishi performs a diving overhead chop while Yuji Nagata executes an enzuigiri on the same opponent.
    • The Washington Convention, a combo of his Mcenroe chop lariat and Takao Omori's axe bomber.
    • Nakanishi and Último Dragón originally created the Hercules Cutter as a tag team finisher, though the former later adapted it to use it by himself.
  • Dark Horse Victory: His 1999 G1 Climax win over Keiji Mutoh and his IWGP HW title win over Tanahashi.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Losing to TOA in a K-1 match had this effect on him. After breaking up his team with Nagata out of existential crisis, Nakanishi declared himself a "Pirate" and became a bipolar lone wolf who changed alignement every month. He first sought the help of Último Dragón, later preferred to try to keep a stable named Pirates Gundan with Scott Norton, and finally tried luck with Kazuyuki Fujita's Team JAPAN, where he reunited with Nagata and recovered some sense of his former self.
  • Don't Think, Feel: His usual strategy for the matches, unlike his partner Nagata, who is more cerebral and likes to research them to look after weak points and such.
  • Dumb Muscle: Played with. He is definitely not an intellectual wrestler and openly favors strength over skill if he can get away with it, but at the same time he's a great learner and tries to actualize his moveset when possible. When defeated or challenged in a way he cannot brute through, he will undergo any special training he needs to overcome it, often bringing up new moves and finishers.
  • Enemy Mine: Despite his enmity with Kazuyuki Fujita, Nakanishi was willing to band together with him in his Team JAPAN stable, as none of them had any allegiances at the time and all were threatened by Chono's BNJ.
  • The Eeyore: Downplayed, but present. While Nakanishi can be as hammy and lively as any other Japanese professional wrestler, he gets somber very easily and is kind of a bitter guy compared to most of the NJPW roster. Furthermore, if we take in consideration how tough and twisty has his career been, it is safe to say he has his reasons.
  • Finishing Move: Hercules Cutter, Argentine Backbreaker Rack and Dai Nakanishi☆German.
  • Gang of Hats: Fighting Club G-EGGS, which was composed by people with martial arts/combat sports backgrounds. Also Team JAPAN, whose members were all accomplished amateur wrestlers.
  • Good Counterpart: Can be considered one to Kazuyuki Fujita in NJPW. They are both big, tough wrestlers with a decorated amateur background and a similar physique, but Nakanishi has been always portrayed as a New Japan loyalist, while Fujita was a part of the Inoki MMA army and got all his career success from it. Similarly, Nakanishi's nickname is "Wild Man", while Fujita's was "Wild Beast".
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Lost incredibly fast in his kickboxing debut before TOA, despite training with Josh Barnett and his opponent being a relatively easy one. It seems Manabu is not cut for striking sports.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has a nasty tendency to fall in those when his enthusiasm doesn't match his in-ring success. His continious defeats at G1 tournaments are a fountain of angst for him, and he also claimed to have lost his heart when he lost to Gary Goodridge (in pro wrestling, not MMA). His defeat to TOA, however, was the biggest one, sending him to an emotional roller coaster throughout 2004.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Yuji Nagata. Even although they have wrestled each other many times and broken up more than once, they have remained close allies and both of them fall into the other whenever they found themselves unsupported.
  • Hot-Blooded: Not in a hyper way, but one indeed.
  • I Know Amateur Wrestling: An accomplished freestyle wrestler, with a bronze medal in the Asian Games and a participation in 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
  • Killer Gorilla: One of his nicknames is "Armed Gorilla", and he often pounds his chest as a taunt. NJPW commentator Shinji Yoshino seems to love this motif, as he always refers to Nakanishi as "an ape forgotten by evolution" and screams "gorillas can fly after all!" every time Nakanishi does a top rope move.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Leaps over the top rope to the outside of the ring with relative ease. He also has his Nakayama Crash or spinning heel kick, which is impressie for a guy his build.
  • Magnetic Hero: Has attracted an incredibly number of tag team partners through his career and usually keeps in touch with the closest ones.
  • No-Sell: Shrugs off stiff shots and Irish whip attempts.
  • Real Men Cook: Is a great chef aside from a great wrestler.
  • Red Baron: "Yajin" ("Wild Man"), "Wasei Hercules" (The Japanese-Made Hercules") and "Buso Gorilla" ("Armed Gorilla").
  • Ring Oldies: He was active until his retirement on February 22, 2020 at 53 years old.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Nakanishi didn't take his loss to Gary Goodridge well. Instead, he trained in boxing and kickboxing like crazy in order to counter Goodridge's style and challenged him again, and this time Manabu won, choking him out.
  • Suplex Finisher: His Dai☆Nakanishi German.
  • Time to Unlock More True Potential:
    • In 2002, he went to train with Karl Gotch in order to improve his German suplex.
    • He added vale tudo moves to his moveset, especially the rear naked choke, after he saw Rickson Gracie beat Masakatsu Funaki with it. It also had PR value, as Nakanishi's name was being mentioned at the time for a possible MMA fight with Rickson.
    • Trained to improve his Argentine backbreaker for his match with Bob Sapp, interestingly enough by racking two training partners at a time.
    • He also developed the Mana Bauer in order to update his arsenal in times of change in 2006.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: His moveset is relatively basic and strength-based, with a big, crude German suplex as his main finisher and an Argentine rack (and its several variations) as his secondary one. However, Nakanishi is insanely strong, and you can bet he is able to pull those moves against anyone despite their resistance.
  • Unstoppable Force Meets Immovable Object: Against Bob Sapp, with Sapp winning by countout; against Giant Singh, with Nakanishi winning by German suplex; and against Giant Silva, again with Nakanishi winning by countout.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Nakanishi broke up his team with Takao Omori and feuded with him when the latter accidentally kicked him and made them lose a match.
  • Worthy Opponent: His post-feud tag team with Giant Bernard was based on this, although it did not last.