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#MustWatchMonday (2/8/16): Shinsuke Nakamura's Farewell Match



What’s up, Henrinites?

I’m Brandon, long-time wrestling fan, first-time writer. Apparently the folks over here at Smark Henry think I watch a lot of wrestling, so here I am, your debuting provider of #MustWatchMonday matches.

In case you weren’t aware, the day and age we live in is a great time to be a wrestling fan. With the world becoming smaller and smaller due to ever improving technology and connectivity, it’s become so much easier to follow wrestling promotions all over the world. Gone are the days of tape trading and dial-up internet. These days, a simple Google search for a promotion of interest would provide a rich variety of matches to sample and wrestlers to discover. Streaming services like the WWE Network and New Japan World are making it even easier for a curious fan to discover a wrestler they might enjoy, whether new or old.

Another reason why it’s a great time to be a wrestling fan? For the first time since the end of the Attitude Era, the WWE has finally acknowledged the existence and the importance of outside promotions, to the point where they’ve finally become willing to sign and employ wrestlers who weren’t homegrown.

One of these signings? Shinsuke Nakamura. You may know him as Swagsuke. The King of Strong Style. The man who made the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Arguably the most well-known active Japanese wrestler in the United States. That Nakamura.


After successfully defending his IWGP Intercontinental Championship in a great match against AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom 10, Nakamura gave his notice to NJPW that he was about to make the move to WWE. As a guy who has been known to remark on his lack of creative direction or competition in New Japan, this move makes perfect sense. Besides, having Nakamura on board with WWE would definitely help their Network as they expand over to Japan.



Despite the move making sense and the split being amicable, the fact remains that NJPW has been Nakamura’s home promotion since 2002. He was there for the dark ages of the promotion when popularity was at an all-time low due to Inokism. Despite all attempts to turn Japanese wrestling into MMA, Nakamura stayed the course, and was one of the catalysts that brought NJPW back to life. And now, after 14 years, he was leaving.

On January 30, 2016, on the second day of the Road to New Beginning, Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled his last match for NJPW. Teaming up with CHAOS stablemates Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii, they went up against the team of Hiroshi Tanahashi (Nakamura’s long-time rival), Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto. For those new to NJPW, the match format was booked according to traditional New Japan booking standards, with a champion and his challenger on opposite sides of the match.

Now, this match definitely wasn’t a huge spectacle bell to bell. Sure there were some angles that came into play, like the continuing build up of Hirooki Goto vs Kazuchika Okada, but what mattered most was what came before, and what came after. New Japan opened it up with an excellent pre-match video highlighting Nakamura’s journey in NJPW.



The fans at Korakuen Hall did their part as well, being as loud as they could for Nakamura’s last appearance, and cheering his every move. The emotion definitely was felt throughout the entirety of this segment, from a final staredown with his old rival Tanahashi, Okada holding back tears as entrances were made, Nakamura giving his final pinfall to Ishii, and finally when the match was over, Okada couldn’t hold back those tears anymore. Shinsuke Nakamura then gave his final promo, and his final “YEAOH!” and with that, a new chapter of his career and his life officially begun.

The match, including pre- and post match segments are featured in the link below.



Thoughts, Henrinites? What's your favorite Shinsuke Nakamura moment? Leave a comment below!

*****

Brandon Sy is a PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics currently based in Sydney. Since he wasn't allowed to watch wrestling as a kid, he's been overcompensating ever since. Despite being a huge fan of Japanese wrestling, he still holds a soft spot in his heart for WWE's Kane. He's good for recommending matches from pretty much anywhere, whether it be Japan, Europe, the US or Mexico. He'd be ecstatic if you watched Dragon Gate though.

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