This past Sunday during their most recent PPV event, Pro Wrestling NOAH announced that WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura would face off against the Great Muta during their The New Year 2023 event, which is scheduled to take place at Nippon Budokan on New Year’s Day. The match comes as a part of Keiji Mutoh’s retirement tour, that has already scene him share the ring with the likes of Kaito Kiyomiya, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Great O-Khan.
The match announcement came as a surprised to the majority of wrestling fans, as WWE have garnered a reputation for themselves over the past few years that they don’t place nicely with others, and thus they scarcely allow talents to compete across other promotions.
Dominic DeAngelo of Wrestling Inc. has now provided additional insight into the negotiation stages in order for this match up to have been made, revealing that Triple H himself reached out to NOAH in order to clarify whether the opportunity with Muta was still available, whilst Sonny Oono also lended his services in facilitating these discussions. Speaking with Wrestling Inc., Oono revealed that maintaining their newly established relationship with AEW was a priority for NOAH during these discussions.
“Noah wanted to protect the newly developing relationship with AEW. I made sure they were no objections from various promotions.”-Sonny Oono
Nakamura himself recently revealed that there was pushback on WWE’s end during initial discussions regarding the proposed bout, however Paul Levesque’s new regime ultimately gave the thumbs up for the match to go ahead.
Whether or not this is an indicator of WWE’s openness to work with other promotions in the future remains to be seen. Karl Anderson currently holds NJPW’s NEVER Openweight Championship, with it appearing as though the two sides have come to an agreement, and thus WWE may be changing their approach to these sorts of situations moving forward.
Another of Muta’s upcoming bouts as a part of his retirement tour will see him team with AEW’s Sting. The pair have a storied history dating back to their time in WCW, and Sonny Oono additionally noted that Muta himself requested that Sting feature as a part of the closing stages of his career.
“Sting joining together on Muta’s last event was a wish of Muta. I’m glad I could help make it possible!”-Sonny Oono
Muta and Sting are set to take part in a six-man tag-team bout at NOAH’s The Great Muta Final Bye-Bye event on Jan. 22 in Yokohama. Whilst it’s currently unknown who the third man teaming with the legendary duo is, Sting himself has gone on record to state that he hopes his on-screen protégé Darby Allin gets the call to feature as a part of the show.