Welcome to a new series of articles here at the MWC Blog that we shall call: Cases For The Greatest.
This is where I examine some of the wrestlers who are often viewed by some or many as the greatest pro wrestler of all time and why they have an argument in being so.
In this edition, we shall take a look at Pro Wrestling Master himself: Keiji Mutoh!
Ring Name: Keiji Mutoh/The Great Muta
From: Yamanashi, Japan
Weight: 243 lbs.
Trained by: Antonio Inoki & Hiro Matsuda
Debut: October 5, 1984 (ongoing)
IWGP Heavyweight Championship (4x)
IWGP Tag-Team Championship (6x)
G1 Climax Tournament 1995 Winner
AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (3x)
AJPW World Tag-Team Championship (5x)
AJPW Champion Carnival Winner (2002, 2004, 2007)
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (1x)
Wrestle-1 Championship (1x)
Tokyo Sports Wrestler of the Year (1995, 1999, 2001, 2008)
WON Wrestler of the Year (2001)
October 5, 1984 - Debut match against fellow rookie Masahiro Chono in NJPW.
1984-1989 - Early run in Japan along with excursion years in the US and Puerto Rican territories.
March 18, 1989 - The birth of The Great Muta.
August 16, 1992 - First time capturing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship as "Great Muta" defeating Riki Choshu.
1990s-2009 - Working in and out for New Japan Pro Wrestling, capturing multiple titles along the way and having memorable matches mainly against his "Three Musketeers" contemporaries in Chono & Hashimoto.
September 23, 1993 - Match vs. Hiroshi Hase that invented the "Muta Scale" to determine how bloody a match can get due to the insane crimson mask Mutoh attained in the bout!
January 11, 2002 - Became the president and top star of All Japan Pro Wrestling. Ushering in a new era for the company and helping its survival altogether.
2002-2013 - Continous work with All Japan Pro Wrestling both as an onscreen and offscreen talent.
January 4, 2007 - Main evented in the first ever Wrestle Kingdom in the Tokyo Dome, teaming up with Masahiro Chono to defeat TenCozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan.)
July 10, 2013 - After a month of resignation from All Japan Pro Wrestling, Mutoh started his own promotion: Wrestle-1.
Present - He has wrestled for multiple indies both in the US and Japan in the middle of it all but has since then stopped due to recovering from surgeries. He now hosts his own wrestling events: Pro Wrestling Masters mainly booking his fellow veterans of the ring.
Puroresu has a rich history of great wrestlers over the course of many decades. It started with the rise in popularity of Rikidozan who became a nationwide hero throughout the country then his two pupils: Antonio Inoki and Shohei "Giant" Baba would go on to become huge and respected stars on their own and established some promotions you may have heard of one point or another; New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Japan Pro Wrestling. After the "pioneers" if you will, many have come but few set apart themselves and became true superstars, one of those stars is Keiji Mutoh!
Let us cut to the chase, what separates Mutoh apart from his contemporaries is simply the massive success he has attained in his ongoing three decade career! I've mentioned both NJPW and AJPW already, well he has dominated in both promotions as a top star. In the 90's him along with his dojo mates Masahiro Chono and Shinya Hashimoto became the top guys for NJPW ushering in a new era for the company. Then he would shock the wrestling scene by helping in the revival of AJPW from near closure after the exodus or departure of Mitsuharu Misawa and co. to create Pro Wrestling NOAH.
Mutoh has held both the IWGP and Triple Crown Championships, two of the most prestigious belts in all of Japan. But his success does not end in his home country, he would become the first major star to become a huge name in the US! Mutoh would create an alternate persona of his and most fans know him as "The Great Muta" which is inspired by another Japanese legend in The Great Kabuki. As The Great Muta, he wrestled similarly to Kabuki although what made Muta even better in my view is that he managed to combine the athleticism and unorthodox to form a style of wrestling still unique to most American fans at the time!
Before Eric Bischoff took over WCW, the company was still actively linked with the NWA and their Muta had memorable bouts against the likes of Ric Flair, Terry Funk, Arn Anderson, and Sting! He would win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship later on in his career adding to his already stacked accolades at such an early time in his career. While Chono was sidelined with injury but did managed to recover and became big later on and Hashimoto becoming New Japan's ace, Mutoh was becoming a huge name across the world of wrestling mainly in the US and some parts of Europe! But of course he still maintained his loyalty in the end in his home country of Japan where to this day, he still remains as a household name in the pro wrestling business.
In terms of his in-ring stuff, Mutoh popularized the maneuvers widely used today such as the Shining Wizard and the Moonsault Press. His style evolved with age and while he may have some critics, I think Mutoh is pretty smart on when to bust out a fantastic match or two and when to tone it down, especially later on in his career wherein the injuries started to catch up. It's not only moves he popularized though as the concept of "factions" in Japan became even more prevelant when him and Chono brought nWo to NJPW and that brought in a slew of many other factions to come thereafter.
We don't even need to talk about charisma because Mutoh wouldn't even be where he is today if it wasn't for his charisma alone! The man can just make his entrance and the usually respectful quiet Japanese crowd would get up on their seats and pop for the legend himself! Also his "two sweet" pose will never not get old and is one of the most iconic poses in wrestling, up there with Randy Orton's top rope pose and The Undertaker's sit up.
The man has seemingly done it all, but alas he has not. After Sting finally went on to sign and compete for the WWE a couple of years ago, that makes Keiji Mutoh arguably the greatest wrestler ever to never step foot inside a WWE ring! It's crazy isn't it? After all you'd think he'd at least have one match especially during the WWF years in the late 80's to early 90's when he was having his tours in the US, but no, he is yet to receive a paycheck from Vince McMahon himself. Other puro legends like Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Genichiro Tenryu, and even Akira Maeda all competed for the WWE one way or another, but Mutoh has not done it! Would be cool to see him be one of the few inductees to WWE's Hall of Fame to never actually wrestle a match for the company, being in the same company as Stu Hart and Abdullah the Butcher just to name a few does not sound too shabby.
While Puroresu was already successful in its home country, Keiji Mutoh helped its popularization across the world! Yes, there have been those who came before him and went on to tour other countries, but he transcended them all thanks to his unique style of wrestling and endless charisma! Considered by many of his peers as one of the greatest ever and a true househould name in Japan.
That is why he has the Case for being the Greatest!
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The name is Super Mastodon. Been a wrestling fan throughout my life, and I share my interest with you here, at the MWC Blog.
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