Shinsuke Nakamura Explains Why He Left NJPW for WWE

Though there have been several wrestling stars leave Japan for the WWE, Shinsuke Nakamura is arguably the biggest star to do so.

It was revealed the day after WrestleKingdom 10 in 2016 that Nakamura was leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling for WWE. It wasn't just Nakamura that was revealed to be leaving that day; AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, and Luke Gallows were on the way with him. It was quite the purge by WWE the day after the biggest show of the year in NJPW.

Styles and Nakamura had just had one of the greatest matches in company history to that point in time at WrestleKingdom, making the the fact that both of them were jumping ship even more surprising. Styles had been IWGP Champion over the previous year and Nakamura was the IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

Since jumping ship to WWE, Nakamura has settled in to become one of the top stars on the WWE SmackDown brand. This follows an incredibly successful run with WWE NXT where he won the NXT Championship and headlined several shows.

Nakamura was interviewed by former WWE ring announcer Lillian Garcia at Ace Comic Con recently and revealed his thought process in leaving Japan for the WWE.

"In Japan, I thought I accomplished everything," said Nakamura. "So, I tried other things. So, then in 2015, [I thought], what should I do next? At the time, my friend, who works in WWE, called me. Probably it's time to challenge next. Then I [decided to join WWE]. So, I didn't follow the WWE history, but I knew big names like Andre the Giant [and] Hulk Hogan, because they wrestled in Japan. When I was a kid, [it was] hard to watch WWE, because I needed to go to [the] video shop, [but] I didn't have any money."

Throughout the interview, Nakamura notes that even when he walked into the company in 2016, he didn't really do any research on them to know more about the way they do business prior to arrival. He essentially walked in as a blank slate.

Nakamura also noted that places like New Japan and the indies use a lot of dangerous moves while observing that WWE tries to "keep it simple" and uses a far different working style.

Lastly, he addressed his recent feud with Styles. Nakamura did admit that the duo was nervous when they wrestled at WrestleMania this year due to the spectacle of the event. He said that their matches have gotten better as they have continued to work together in WWE and looks forward to working more matches with him in the future.

Nakamura and Styles have put their feud on ice at the moment as Nakamura is now engaged in a U.S. title feud with Jeff Hardy. However, the door is likely open for he and Styles to pick up their feud again somewhere down the line. Especially after the excellent bout the two had last weekend at Money in the Bank.


[H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.]