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Shinsuke Nakamura Biography: Early Life, Career and Personal Life

Shinsuke Nakamura (中邑 真輔Nakamura Shinsuke, born February 24, 1980) is a Japanese professional wrestler.

He is currently signed to WWE, where he performs on the SmackDown brand.

Nakamura is known for his time in New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW), where he is a former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, with his first reign coming at the age of 23 years and 9 months; making Nakamura the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

His other accomplishments within the company include winning the 2011 G1 Climax and the 2014 New Japan Cup, and being the final IWGP Third Belt Champion, the final NWF Heavyweight Champion, and the longest reigning IWGP Intercontinental Champion for his first reign (he formerly held the record for most reigns at five).

He is also a founding member and the original leader of the stable Chaos.

Prior to his main roster debut, Nakamura competed in WWE’s NXT brand, where he became a two-time NXT Champion.

In January 2018, Nakamura won the 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble match, and later won the WWE United States Championship twice.

He won the Intercontinental Championship for the first time in 2019 at Extreme Rules, making him the second wrestler (behind Chris Jericho) to hold both WWE and IWGP Intercontinental Championships.

Nakamura is also a former WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champion with Cesaro.

From July 2021 to October of the same year, Nakamura dubbed himself King Nakamura due to being in possession of the King of the Ring crown, although he never won the tournament.

Nakamura also notably competed in mixed martial arts, amassing a 3–1 (1) record.

 

 

New Japan Pro-Wrestling

Super Rookie (2002–2005)

Nakamura joined NJPW in March 2002 and quickly began making a name for himself as a bright prospect for the company.

Having earned the nickname “Super Rookie”, Nakamura impressed both NJPW officials and fans with an excellent combination of strength, speed, and technical skill.

Alongside fellow rookies Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata, Nakamura became known as one of the “new Three Musketeers”.

Nakamura began training vale tudo and on December 31 made his mixed martial arts debut in a fight, where he was defeated by Daniel Gracie via submission to an armlock.

Nakamura’s second MMA fight took place on May 2, 2003, when he defeated Jan Nortje with a guillotine choke.

He followed that up on September 13 with another submission victory over Shane Eitner in his third MMA fight.

On December 9, Nakamura defeated Hiroyoshi Tenzan for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, thus becoming the youngest wrestler in history to win the title.

On January 4, 2004, at Wrestling World 2004, Nakamura successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against the NWF Heavyweight Champion Yoshihiro Takayama in a title unification match.

 However, Nakamura was forced to vacate the title due to an injury just a month later.

Upon his return, Nakamura received a shot at the title, now held by Bob Sapp, but he was defeated by the defending champion on May 3.

Later that month, Nakamura competed in his last MMA fight, defeating Alexey Ignashov with a forearm choke on May 22.

On December 11, Nakamura and his tag team partner Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Kensuke Sasaki and Minoru Suzuki in a decision match to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

On January 4, 2005, at Toukon Festival: Wrestling World 2005, Nakamura defeated his own tag team partner to win the IWGP U-30 Openweight Championship.

 During their tag team title reign, the two left for an excursion to Mexico, where they feuded with Los Guerreros del Infierno and defended the IWGP Tag Team Championship against Rey Bucanero and Olímpico.

 On October 30, they lost the IWGP Tag Team Championship to Cho-Ten (Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Masahiro Chono).

 

Excursion and return (2006–2009)

Nakamura challenged Brock Lesnar for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on January 4, 2006, at Toukon Shidou Chapter 1, but he lost.

In March 2006, Nakamura announced that he would depart on a learning excursion in order to further improve his wrestling skills.

Among other things, he would travel to Mexico, Brazil and Russia as well as train with Lesnar at Lesnar’s personal gym in order to gain muscle mass.

NJPW President Simon Inoki later suggested that as part of his learning excursion, Nakamura would be loaned to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to gain experience in working large American shows.

However, it proved to be mostly speculation and never came to pass as Nakamura was urgently needed back in New Japan due to Lesnar’s departure.

On September 24, Nakamura made his long-awaited return to New Japan, joining Masahiro Chono’s Black New Japan faction, which had the goal of reforming New Japan with Chono as the president and Nakamura as the “ace”.

Nakamura had greatly improved his muscular mass during his overseas training and also debuted a new finisher, called the Landslide.

On December 10, Nakamura was unable to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from then-champion Tanahashi and was again unsuccessful on January 4, 2007, at the Wrestle Kingdom in Tokyo Dome show, where he lost to Toshiaki Kawada.

Nakamura entered the 2007 G1 Climax tournament, where he reached the semi-finals before dislocating his shoulder.

The injury sidelined Nakamura for months, but he made his return on November 11 and took over the leadership of Black New Japan from Chono and reformed the faction under the new name RISE.

The faction originally consisted of himself, Minoru, Milano Collection A.T., Hirooki Goto, Giant Bernard, Travis Tomko and Prince Devitt.

 Low Ki was later added to the stable after Milano was injured, having impressed Nakamura during an appearance when he was still with Impact Wrestling! (Formerly TNA).

On December 9, Nakamura defeated Togi Makabe to earn an IWGP Heavyweight Championship match at the following month’s Tokyo Dome show.

On January 4, 2008, Nakamura defeated his rival Tanahashi in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the second time.

On February 17, Nakamura defeated Kurt Angle to win the IGF version of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, unifying it with his own NJPW version of the title.

He lost the IWGP Heavyweight Championship to All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) representative Keiji Mutoh in Osaka on April 27.

On September 5, Nakamura and RISE stablemate Hirooki Goto unsuccessfully challenged Togi Makabe and Toru Yano for the IWGP Tag Team Championship.

Immediately after the match, the duo were attacked by Giant Bernard, Rick Fuller and the returning Low Ki, who had just left RISE to join Makabe’s GBH faction.

On February 15, 2009, Nakamura faced Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, but he failed to regain the title.

 

 

In April 2009, Nakamura turned into a villain, siding with the former members of GBH (especially Toru Yano) in a feud against Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma.

This new group was soon named Chaos with Nakamura as their leader.

Nakamura began to work a much rougher style, using a lot of knees and continuing to use a straight right hand as a frequent move in addition to the Bomaye (renamed Kinshasa in WWE), his new finisher.

It was the Bomaye that took him to the finals of the 2009 G1 Climax, where he lost to Makabe.

Prior to the final, Nakamura had gone undefeated, winning each match with the Bomaye. The move was also credited for fracturing IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi’s orbital bone in the semi-finals of the G1, which forced Tanahashi to vacate the title later that month.

 

 

After a brief absence from television, Nakamura returned on the June 25 episode of SmackDown, interrupting WWE Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor during a backstage interview, and expressed interest in the championship before walking off.

On the July 9 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura defeated Bálor in a non-title match.

Five days later at the Extreme Rules pre-show, Nakamura defeated Bálor to capture the WWE Intercontinental Championship for the first time in his career.

 This win made him the second man, after Chris Jericho, to have held both the IWGP and WWE Intercontinental Championship, as well as the first Asian-born wrestler to win the title.

On July 27, he successfully defended his title against Ali at Smackville.

Nakamura later started an alliance with Sami Zayn and defeated The Miz with his help at Clash of Champions to retain his WWE Intercontinental Championship.

On the October 18 episode of SmackDown Live, Nakamura retained his championship against Roman Reigns after Baron Corbin interfered causing the disqualification.

At Crown Jewel, Nakamura was a member of Team Flair, where they lost to Team Hogan.

At Survivor Series, Nakamura lost to NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong in an inter-brand triple threat match also involving Raw’s United States Champion A.J. Styles.

On the November 29 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura and Zayn formed an alliance with Cesaro, as he and Nakamura unsuccessfully challenged The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship.

Nakamura started a feud with Braun Strowman after he pinned Nakamura in a six-man tag team match on the December 12 episode of SmackDown and in a singles match two weeks later.

At the Royal Rumble, Nakamura entered to the Royal Rumble match entering at #11 but was quickly eliminated by the WWE Champion Brock Lesnar.

On the January 31 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura lost the Intercontinental Championship to Strowman, ending his reign at 201 days. At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on March 8, Sami Zayn, along with Nakamura and Cesaro, defeated Braun Strowman in 3-on-1 handicap match for the Intercontinental Championship.

Zayn became the new champion by pinning Strowman.

Nakamura, Zayn and Cesaro then began feuding with Daniel Bryan and Drew Gulak where Gulak defeated Nakamura to earn Bryan an Intercontinental Championship match against Zayn at WrestleMania 36.

At the event, Zayn defeated Bryan to retain the Intercontinental Championship with the help of Nakamura and Cesaro.

Nakamura began teaming with Cesaro more frequently as they feuded with New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles.

On the July 10 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura and Cesaro challenged New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Titles but the match ended in a no contest with Cesaro and Nakamura putting Kofi Kingston and Big E through a table.

On July 19 at The Horror Show at Extreme Rules, Nakamura and Cesaro defeated Kingston and Big E in a Tables match to capture the titles, marking Nakamura’s first tag team title in WWE.

During the 2020 WWE Draft episode of SmackDown on October 9, they lost the titles to The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods.

On the 2020 WWE Draft episode of Raw on October 12, they got drafted to SmackDown as the 19th pick.

 

 

On the January 8, 2021, episode of SmackDown, Nakamura competed in a Gauntlet match to determine the challenger for the WWE Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, defeating Rey Mysterio, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan, the latter of whom he proceeded to shake hands with following Bryan’s loss, before he lost to Adam Pearce after being assaulted by champion Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, thus turning face for the first time since 2018.

The following week, Nakamura reverted to his original theme song for his entrance and cemented his face turn by insulting Jey Uso before defeating him in a match.

At Royal Rumble, Nakamura would enter at number 7 before he was eliminated by King Corbin.

In March, Nakamura would be involved in Cesaro’s feud with Seth Rollins after Rollins took Cesaro out of action. This led to a match between Nakamura and Rollins at Fastlane where Nakamura was defeated.

On the May 14 episode of SmackDown, after losing to King Corbin, he attacked Corbin before stealing his crown.

Over the next few weeks, Nakamura would feud with Corbin over the crown until the June 18 episode of SmackDown, where Nakamura would defeat Corbin in a “Battle for the Crown” match to become the new King.

Nakamura defeated Corbin on the July 9 episode of SmackDown to qualify for Money in the Bank.

At the event, Nakamura failed to win the match.

On the August 13 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura defeated Apollo Crews to win the Intercontinental Championship for the second time in his career.

He would have his only title defense as he retained over Apollo in a rematch a month later on the September 24 episode of SmackDown.

On the October 8 episode of SmackDown, just prior to the start of the King of the Ring tournament that night, Nakamura respectfully relinquished the crown.

On January 29, 2022, Nakamura entered the Royal Rumble match at the namesake event at #2 but was eliminated by AJ Styles.

Nakamura would lose the title to Sami Zayn on the February 18 (taped February 11) episode of SmackDown.

 

Nakamura resides in Orlando, Florida.

He is an avid surfer since 2003. He is married to Harumi Maekawa in September 2007.

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