WWE may be interested in signing one of the top international wrestlers in the world, Shinsuke Nakamura, once his contract is up with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Several outlets, including Wrestling Inc., have reported on the rumor.
Nakamura has to be considered one of the top international stars in the world. Pro Wrestling Illustrated felt that way, ranking him at No. 5 earlier this year on its annual list of Top 500 singles wrestlers.
Nakamura has competed in NJPW since 2002, becoming one of its top stars. He has won 11 titles with the promotion and is its current Intercontinental Champion, a title he has held five times.
But in addition to his success overseas, Nakamura also has the size WWE likes. At 6-foot-2 and 229 pounds, he would fit right in. However, it is the interest from the Japanese audience that a potential signing of Nakamura would create that WWE should be most interested in.
However, NJPW owner Takaaki Kidani is likely aware of these rumors. On top of that, he’ll be able to offer the kind of money WWE throws at Nakamura in an attempt to get him to jump ship. That means it will be up to Nakamura if he’d like to make a name for himself in the United States, since money shouldn’t be a factor. Nakamura has never had a run in the U.S.
If WWE is able to land Nakamura, it must use him properly. In other words, much differently than it used Kenzo Suzuki. Prior to his short WWE run, Suzuki was highly successful in NJPW. But his time in WWE is easily forgettable, as they quickly turned him into a comedy act rather than the intimidating force he should have been.
KENTA was also one of the top stars in Japan, but his WWE career — which has been spent in NXT as Hideo Itami — hasn’t had many highlights.
Nakamura would have to be used in the capacity of one of WWE’s top stars, similarly to how it has always handled the career of another guy who found success in another country, Alberto Del Rio. NXT could be instrumental in this process.
WWE has used its developmental territory brilliantly, particularly when it has come to preparing guys who have achieved great success in another promotions for its main roster. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and Finn Balor are all examples of this.
If WWE is going to shell out the kind of money t will take to bring a guy like Nakamura over, it needs to be for a good reason. Fans aren’t going to want to see him dancing around like a fool or trying to provide cheap “entertainment.” If WWE truly wants to bring over a new set of viewers from Japan, it has to have Nakamura do what he does best, and that is compete inside the ring.
Why else would they have interest in him?
With the talent WWE has on its roster, there are countless matchups with Nakamura that would be intriguing. This is why he should be brought over.
At 35 years old, WWE would probably have to put him on the fast track in NXT. There, he could learn WWE’s style of telling a story in the ring while also showcasing his unique talent.
Nakamura uses an aggressive style and is an expert with his knees and feet. His kicks would make a guy like Rob Van Dam quite proud and his Boma Ye running knee finisher would be a welcome addition on WWE television.
If this was 2004, fans would have every right to be skeptical of how a guy like Nakamura would be used in WWE. But since Triple H has seemingly had more influence on what happens in NXT, things have changed.
Former independent stars Rollins and Owens are going to be stars. Balor, who made a huge name for himself overseas as Prince Devitt, is going to be a star. There’s no reason that Nakamura couldn’t be a star with WWE as well.
The only thing left is for WWE to win him over and get to work on doing just that.