Just in time for WrestleMania 34, WWE has released a new documentary, the first of a series called WWE Chronicle, about Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura is set to have one of the card’s highest profile matches against WWE Champion AJ Styles, but many fans, especially those who have only seen him on the WWE main roster, may not have a clear idea of who the King of Strong Style is.
This 37-minute documentary works to answer the question, “Who is Shinsuke Nakamura?” It covers January 28 – April 5, 2018 (from the Royal Rumble to just before Mania), and gives us a glimpse at the experiences and philosophy that make Nakamura such a unique individual and performer. Here are some of the WWE Chronicle’s notable moments.
Shinsuke Nakamura’s Life Could Have Taken A Very Different Path After His Father’s Death
Nakamura reveals that his dad passed away from cancer when he was just eighteen years old. He wanted to drop out of university and get a job to support his family, but his mother urged him to stay in school. Nakamura says that while he was in college he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler so that he could become strong, famous, and travel the world.
An MMA Loss Inspired His Pro Wrestling Finisher
Shinsuke only had 5 MMA fights, but one of them gave him his current catchphrase, “Knee to face.” In his first match, he was extremely nervous, but got in about ten shoot tackles. One of them was countered with a knee to Nakamura’s face. He tried to continue fighting, but the referee stopped the match. He then decided to take the knee to the face for his pro wrestling career, so that he would have “the most dangerous finisher,” the one that had defeated him in real life.
Michael Jackson Also Inspired His Wrestling Style
While watching Michael Jackson’s music videos, Nakamura noticed that the King of Pop moved “like a master of martial arts.” Jackson wasn’t muscular like a dancer, but had had the “gravity and techniques and quickness” of a karate or kung fu expert. After this revelation, Nakamura started incorporating how Michael Jackson moved into his wrestling style. We get to see Nak bust out some full-on MJ dance moves in this documentary too, complete with a hat flip.
He Tries To Experience Local Culture Wherever He Goes
Shinsuke says he tries to make life colorful through new experiences, including experiencing local culture wherever he goes. One of the main ways he does that is through food. We get to see him try Texas barbecue for the first time, and he’s a fan. He also makes it sound like he’s either had terrible steaks in America, or that American steaks have a bad reputation with foodies abroad.
But He’s Also Always Searching For Good Ramen
If you’ve checked out his social media, you may know that Shinsuke is a devoted member of #wweramenclub. In his WWE Chronicle, he tells Xavier Woods about trying ramen so bad he stopped eating it after two bites and questioned the staff as to why it had no flavor. There’s some real potential for a foodie-based heel turn on display here, basically.
Strong Style Is Commonly Misinterpreted
Shinsuke says a lot of people don’t understand what Strong Style is. It’s not, like many think, about working stiff. He credits Strong Style to Korean-Japanese wrestler Rikidozan, who won the NWA International Heavyweight Championship from Lou Thesz, was nicknamed “Father of Puroresu,” and trained wrestlers including Antonio Inoki and Giant Baba. Nakamura says he sees Strong Style as a philosophy about expressing emotion through wrestling with real fighting techniques rather than the techniques themselves.
His Conflicted Emotions Going Into WrestleMania Remind Him Of Winning His First IWGP Championship
Shinsuke admits he’s “freaking out” about WrestleMania.He has not only a chance for the WWE Championship, but a chance to perform for a global audience. He says one side of him thinks, “Oh, that’s normal for you. You should be champion,” but the other thinks, “Wow, that’s amazing!”
He compares this to how he felt when he became the youngest ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion for NJPW at age 23. When he held the belt for the first time as champion he felt, “This belt’s too heavy. So heavy. ‘Cause I didn’t have experience. I felt just responsibility.” He wonders if he would be able to enjoy the moment of winning the WWE Championship.
He Feels He And AJ Styles Are Destined To Have A Great Match At WrestleMania
Throughout the documentary, Shinsuke dips in and out of kayfabe when talking about his upcoming match with AJ Styles. At one point he declares, “This match … gonna be … definitely … not only good match … greatest match. I believe, ’cause our destiny.”
He says during his first singles match with AJ at the Tokyo Dome that almost “at first contact” he understood what a great wrestler AJ was. He says he respects how AJ is creative and original… but he is unique as well.
I would definitely recommend watching this documentary on the WWE Network or on the promotion’s YouTube channel (embedded at the top of this article.) There’s a lot more about Shinsuke’s philosophies on wrestling, life, and performance in his own words, plus footage of him surfing and goofing around with his Smackdown Live costars. WWE Chronicle is also exceptionally put together, even for a WWE Network original, which are usually very well produced. Hopefully we get more of these about other superstars in the future!