This Sunday (Jan. 1, 2023), Shinsuke Nakamura will return to Japan and face The Great Muta in a Pro Wrestling NOAH ring. It’s part of Muta’s retirement tour, and it’s something Nakamura never thought would be possible as long as he was under contract to WWE.
The 2018 Royal Rumble winner has spoken a bit before about how the match came together. His answers on the topic are similar as he hit the interview circuit to promote The New Year 2023 at Budokan Hall this week. But in speaking to Yahoo Japan, he explicitly stated the part which was only implied in his previous quotes:
“It was something that would never have happened under the previous structure of the WWE... Vince [McMahon] stepped down in the summer, and I was advised by people within the company that it might be possible now. Even so, I thought it would be difficult, but I spoke directly to Triple H. When the decision was actually made, I was shaken.
“There was a big change in the WWE between when [Keiji] Mutoh [the man behind the Great Muta character] announced his retirement and when the match was decided. Vince, who was the symbol of everything, was retiring, and that was something that no one could believe. Everything changes in America when the top changes. At that time, there was a feeling that many things would change in the future. One of the changes that occurred to me was this. The fact that ‘no’ became ‘yes’ gave me a boost.”
Just a reminder that WWE and the wrestling business at large changed in a major way when Nick Khan, Stephanie McMahon & Triple H took over for Vince McMahon this year.
What changes will we see in 2023? We’ll start to find out when Nakamura faces Muta on New Year’s Day.