After weeks of rumors and speculation, New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) superstar Shinsuke Nakamura is officially headed to WWE’s popular NXT brand, the company confirmed on Wednesday evening.
The legendary Japanese grappler is reportedly set to debut at the NXT Takeover: Dallas event during Wrestlemania 32 weekend. The news was announced by NXT’s on-screen general manager William Regal during a set of tapings.
— WWE NXT (@WWENXT) January 28, 2016
Nakamura is set to face Sami Zayn at the event.
Needless to say, Nakamura’s impending arrival is quite a coup for the NXT promotion as it adds another international superstar to its already impressive core of performers. Nakamura, 35, has been with NJPW since 2002 and quickly evolved into one of the company’s best-known entities. “The King of Strong Style” will depart from NJPW with a decorated resume as he’s a three-time IWGP Champion, five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and one-time IWGP Tag Team Champion with Hiroshi Tanahashi.
At a recent press conference, Nakamura officially announced that he would be leaving NJPW after his two remaining dates with the company on January 29 and 30, via WhatCulture. Nakamura stated he’s felt in “rut” with NJPW in recent years and wants to expand his career — but did not mention the WWE at the press conference. Also, Nakamura surrendered his IWGP Intercontinental Championship, bringing his fifth, and likely final, reign with the title to an end.
As WWE’s statement on the signing mentions, Nakamura has already tangled with some current WWE and NXT superstars, including Finn Bálor, Kevin Owens, Hideo Itami, and Brock Lesnar. Therefore, the eccentric Nakamura should have an easier time acclimating to NXT upon his arrival.
NXT as a whole is currently thriving and Nakamura becomes the latest major name to make the jump. Last week, “The Greatest Man That Ever Lived” and former TNA/ROH World Champion Austin Aries made his WWE NXT debut at a set of tapings. He’s scheduled to wrestle “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin at the same NXT Takeover: Dallas event that Nakamura is scheduled for, per Wrestling News World.
Sami Zayn recently returned from a shoulder injury and figures to be a part of NXT going forward. Hideo Itami (aka Kenta) is scheduled to return from injury in the near future, too.
The Inquisitr recently reported that Nakamura would be heading down to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, in February. The reason being so that Nakamura can undergo all the required WWE medical testing and settle into his new work environment before he makes his debut with the company.
With Nakamura officially headed to NXT, that means one-half of the rumored new WWE signees are now under the WWE umbrella. Former TNA and IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles made his official WWE debut this Sunday at the Royal Rumble, entering the match as the No. 3 entrant. The following night, Styles defeated the legendary Chris Jericho in a first time ever matchup. Tomorrow night on SmackDown, Styles is set to wrestle one of the members from the Social Outcasts.
[Featured Photo by Tabercil via Wikimedia Commons]