Top New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) superstar Shinsuke Nakamura is reportedly set to arrive at the WWE Performance Center, located in Orlando, Florida, this February, according to PWInsider (via Daily Wrestling News).
The 35-year-old now-former IWGP Intercontinental Champion will spend “several weeks” at the Performance Center, according to the report. Nakamura will train at the venue while undergoing the required medical testing every superstar must complete prior to signing with WWE. It’s noted that Nakamura may go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to complete the testing, which is where most talents go.
When and if Nakamura passes all the required tests, he will be free to sign with WWE.
Nearly a 14-year veteran with NJPW, Nakamura has arguably developed into Japan’s most popular performer. The “King of Strong Style” has utilized his unique character and bevy of devastating strikes to dominate the premier wrestling promotion in Japan.
Following his match with AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom 10, it was revealed that Nakamura, Styles, and Bullet Club members Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows all gave NJPW their notices and would sign with WWE. As the rumors persisted, WWE acknowledged the talk surrounding the NJPW stars, giving fans the impression that all four men were WWE bound.
In an interview with Tokyo Sports last week, Nakamura confirmed that he is indeed signing with WWE, saying that he is “looking for a new challenge and hopes to reach ‘new heights’ with WWE’s global platform,” per SEScoops.
Yesterday, the Inquisitr reported that Nakamura was stripped of his IWGP Intercontinental Championship. There was a strong belief that Nakamura would lose the title to new Bullet Club leader Kenny Omega — who joined Inquisitr for an exclusive interview recently. However, that will not be the case, as Nakamura will finish out his remaining dates with NJPW, culminating with a big six-man tag team match at Korakuen Hall on January 30.
The tag team match — which will also be Nakamura’s last match for NJPW — will feature Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, and Shibata taking on Tomohiro Ishii, IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada, and Nakamura. Omega will fight for the now-vacant IWGP Intercontinental Championship on February 4 against a “mystery opponent.”
Omega jokingly addressed the situation on Twitter.
Don’t worry about the Shinsuke match. I’ll just beat him when he comes back.
— Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) January 12, 2016
As for Nakamura’s potential starting date, he is most likely not an option for the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The show is scheduled to take place on January 24 in Orlando, Florida. With Nakamura having commitments to finish with NJPW a week later, he likely will not be contractually permitted to work the event.
However, with February being Nakamura’s reported start date at the Performance Center, he could potentially be an option for the WWE Fastlane pay-per-view on February 21 and WrestleMania 32 on April 3.
As for Nakamura’s fellow NJPW superstars, their involvement with WWE is currently not clear. There was a rumor that WWE was considering using AJ Styles in the Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant. With the news of him being close to signing with WWE now public knowledge, the company may elect to go a different route with the former two-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.
In regards to Gallows and Anderson, the bearded brawlers have not seen their names in the headlines as much, compared to Nakamura and Styles. The current speculation is that the former three-time IWGP Tag Team Champions could be NXT bound, as current NXT Champion Finn Balor continues to tease their debut.
[Photo by Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons]