This WrestleMania weekend in Orlando marks the one-year anniversary since Japanese superstar Shinsuke Nakamura made his in-ring debut at WWE’s NXT TakeOver in Dallas and within that year, he has become the brand’s most popular star and a two-time NXT Champion.
Nakamura, a three-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion is seeking to regain the title he lost to Bobby Roode in January and rack up a record high third reign as champion.
The “King of Strong Style” is untouched when it comes to showcasing charisma and possessing a fascinating sense of style and bravado that leaves fans in awe of him without the star having to utter a single word.
When his theme “The Rising Sun” hits, and the words “Shinsuke Nakamura” come shrieking across the Titantron in red letters like it’s out of a slasher flick, and Nakamura appears in his iconic Michael Jackson-like red leather jacket among a sea of strobe lights, the fans roar with an energy that is second to none and sing along to the theme. It’s a testament to the crossover appeal of the Japanese star.
As he prepares for his NXT Championship match against Bobby Roode on Saturday and fields the barrage of questions surrounding a possible call-up to WWE’s main roster and the Raw and SmackDown brands, Nakamura takes a moment to examine his wild year of WWE stardom.
NXT TakeOver Orlando
CraveOnline: You have had fantastic matches with Sami Zayn, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe so how does Bobby Roode differ and what can we expect at NXT TakeOver?
Shinsuke Nakamura: He injured my leg again so I need to change my style but I want to enjoy this match because NXT TakeOver Orlando is the biggest NXT of the year and the audience comes from all over the world and I want to wrestle the best of Bobby Roode.
CraveOnline: It has been a year since you signed with WWE. What were your expectations going into WWE and NXT and did you meets and surpasses them?
Shinsuke Nakamura: I just enjoyed the moment. I didn’t have any expectations.
CraveOnline: You have been the NXT brand’s top star over the last year. Would you prefer to continue to build NXT or move up to Raw or SmackDown?
Shinsuke Nakamura: Hard question. I build the Nakamura era and I’m going to prove again who I am and showoff my ability so I have to concentrate on TakeOver Orlando against Bobby Roode instead of that.
The Rising Sun
CraveOnline: Your theme “The Rising Sun” is one of the most popular themes in sports entertainment. What are your thoughts on it and how much influence did you have in picking it?
Shinsuke Nakamura: Actually, I ordered “The Rising Sun.” Before I came to WWE, they sent me samples of all of the entrance music so I told them ‘I don’t use this’ and ‘I don’t use this’ and please mix music with violin and they would make samples and I would give my opinion and this would go back and forth until finally, they made “The Rising Sun” and I was really happy to have that.
CraveOnline: Triple H told us that you’re an avid surfer.
Shinsuke Nakamura: I like to go surfing because I want to feel the ocean and experience nature and nature fixes my balance and this life is crazy sometime so it helps a wrestler’s life because a wrestler’s life is crazy sometimes [laughs]. So I enjoy it cause it helps my balance.
“I’ll probably never be complete”
CraveOnline: You have had an amazing career but whom do you need to face or what do you have to accomplish to consider your career complete?
Shinsuke Nakamura: I’ll probably never be complete. The situation will always change. I still want to enjoy the wrestling life. I want to wrestle a lot of the WWE guys. I don’t want to think about the end of my career yet.
CraveOnline: What are you the most proud of?
Shinsuke Nakamura: I never think about pride. I don’t thibk about stuff like that. I just enjoy the moment of my life. I think about just trying harder and continuing to find challenges to move toward.
CraveOnline: What’s your routine before a match? Tell us what’s going through your mind before you go to the ring?
Shinsuke Nakamura: I don’t get nervous before the match. I try to act the same and stay normal right before entrance. I don’t want to do anything special so I want to act normal before a match.
CraveOnline: You have already won the NXT Championship twice but what would it mean to you to win the title for a third time?
Shinsuke Nakamura: It will show to me that I have proven myself to the world.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photos courtesy of WWE
- NXT TakeOver: Orlando, live Saturday, April 1 at 8 ET/5 PT, only on the award-winning WWE Network!
- Shinsuke Nakamura faces off against NXT Champion Bobby Roode