As reported earlier this week New Japan Pro Wrestling appear to be seriously considering offering Shinsuke Nakamura an opportunity to return to the company once his reported three year deal with WWE ends in the next few months.
As a former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion Nakamura can be considered amongst the greatest performers to ever step foot in an NJPW ring, but should the ‘King of Strong Style’ return to the company which put him on the global wrestling map?
In terms of presentation, presence and performance there is no denying that Shinsuke is as unique and electrifying a character as anyone in pro wrestling today. Since joining WWE he has grown his brand and worldwide notoriety in a way that simply would not have been possible if he had stayed as part of the New Japan roster. It is arguable however that Nakamura’s greatest works came as part of his time in New Japan and he has not reached the heights of the G1, Wrestle Kingdom et al since he made the leap over to WWE, aside from an incredible showing in his debut against Sami Zayn.
With the international expansion plans and strategy to target a more western audience New Japan would be hard pressed to find a performer on the planet with the upside of Nakamura. He already has a strong following in his native Japan and has built a strong fanbase amongst WWE’s ‘universe’ so this really would be a win-win for them. Realistically though how likely would it be for Shinsuke to change course and return to the company that ‘made’ him?
Shinsuke has absolutely toned down his style since arriving in WWE, the striking prowess is still evident but the velocity of his arsenal is nowhere near what it once was in New Japan. Would Nakamura want to risk leaving what is widely regarded a ‘safer’ style in the WWE and return to the ‘dangerous’ New Japan formula (although this is left up to interpretation)? Nakamura now sits as one of the premiere focal points of the Smackdown brand, you can argue that being United States Champion isn’t a premiere position but there are only a finite amount of belts in the company and Shinsuke possesses one of them…that to me is a very strong position to be in.
Sure, seeing the ‘Rockstar’ of old in New Japan tearing it up with the likes of Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Jay White, Will Ospreay and Kota Ibushi is an extremely exciting prospect but can you compare these marquee bouts to being on a WrestleMania card? That is a decision that Nakamura may well have to make in the near future but with WWE seemingly looking to solidify their stranglehold on the pro wrestling market across multiple regions (I’m looking at you UK division) and one of their star attractions being looked at by a competitor you can bet that a deal with a very attractive number will be heading towards the Nakamura camp in the near future.
Do you think that Shinsuke should return to New Japan? Let us know in the comments