The Many
Faces of Mutoh
Keiji Mutoh vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
IWGP Heavyweight Challenge on April 27th, 2008

Event: Circuit 2008 New Japan Brave
Location: Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
Attendance: 6,000

This match is for Nakamura's IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This is also their first ever singles match, for those keeping track. They start the feeling out process, waistlock by Mutoh but Nakamura gets out of it and goes for the arm. Wristlock by Nakamura but Mutoh flips out of it and applies a leg lock. Nakamura gets out of it and goes for the ankle, Mutoh gets out of it and Nakamura applies a front facelock. Waistlock by Nakamura and he applies a wristlock, pushing Mutoh down to the mat and keeping an armbar applied. Mutoh quickly armdrags out of the hold and rolls out of the ring, trying to shake the feeling back into his arm as the crowd chants his name. Mutoh rolls back in and Nakamura immediately kicks him in the arm. Hammerlock takedown by Nakamura and he keeps a submission applied, but Mutoh makes it to the ropes. Takedown by Nakamura and again Mutoh rolls out of the ring to recover from Nakamura's attacks. Mutoh gets onto the apron but Nakamura dropkicks him down to the floor. Nakamura goes for a pescado, Mutoh moves, Nakamura lands on his feet but Mutoh dropkicks him in the knee. Mutoh Irish whips Nakamura into the guard rail and hits a Shining Wizard, knocking Nakamura over the railing to the other side. Mutoh grabs Nakamura's leg over the railing and hits a dragon screw leg whip, sending Nakamura's leg into the rail. Mutoh gets back into the ring, and Nakamura eventually follows. As Nakamura gets into the ropes Mutoh hits a Shining Wizard, he then grabs Nakamura's leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip back into the ring. Mutoh gets up onto the second turnbuckle and dropkicks Nakamura in the leg while he is still on the mat. Mutoh then hits another dragon screw leg whip and slaps on the figure four leglock. After fighting it for a minute Nakamura makes it to the ropes, but Mutoh dropkicks him in the leg again. Another dropkick to the leg by Mutoh, he grabs Nakamura's leg and hits a dragon screw leg whip. Mutoh goes for the figure four again but this time Nakamura reverses it into a cross armbreaker attempt. Mutoh blocks him from locking in the hold, so Nakamura reverts it into a modified armbar choke. Mutoh rolls to the ropes however and gets a foot on the ropes to break the hold. Back up they trade blows, but Mutoh dropkicks Nakamura in the knee. Nakamura comes back with kicks and knees, but Mutoh catches one and hits a dragon screw leg whip.

Mutoh grabs Nakamura's leg but Nakamura jumps up and re-applies the choke. Again Mutoh struggles to the ropes and he is able to force the break. Nakamura picks up Mutoh, Irish whip from the corner, reversed, but Nakamura shoulderblocks Mutoh to the mat. Nakamura goes off the ropes and hits a lariat, cover, but it gets a two count. Nakamura picks up Mutoh, scoop slam in front of the corner and he hits a moonsault! Nakamura goes up top again and goes for a second one, but this time Mutoh rolls out of the way and dropkicks Nakamura in the knee. Another dropkick to the knee by Mutoh and he hits a dragon screw leg whip. Figure four leglock by Mutoh but Nakamura makes it to the ropes. Both wrestlers slowly get up, Mutoh grabs the leg but Nakamura hits an enzigieri. Spinning kick by Nakamura and he hits a trio of German suplexes for a two count. Nakamura picks up Mutoh and goes for the dragon suplex, but Mutoh gets out of it. Mutoh goes off the ropes but Nakamura gets him up on his shoulders and hits the Landslide. Cover, but Mutoh kicks out at two. Mutoh picks up Nakamura and goes for the double armed piledriver, but Mutoh backdrops out of it. Nakamura goes off the ropes but Mutoh dropkicks him in the leg and hits a Shining Wizard in the corner. Dragon screw leg whip by Mutoh but Nakamura blocks the Shining Wizard. Nakamura applies the cross armbreaker but Mutoh manages to lock his hands. Loud Mutoh chant starts as Nakamura gets the hold re-applied, but Mutoh manages to re-lock his hands. Mutoh finally wiggles close enough to the ropes to get a foot on them, forcing a break. Nakamura picks up Mutoh and goes for the Landslide, but Mutoh knees out of it and dropkicks Nakamura in the face as he slides to the mat. Nakamura gets back up on the apron, but Mutoh grabs him, drags his head into the ring with his feet on the top rope, and nails a dragon screw neckbreaker! Shining Wizard by Mutoh, he hits one from behind and a final one from the front. Cover, but Nakamura kicks out! Mutoh gets up and waits for Nakamura, Nakamura quickly tries to applies a cross armbreaker but Mutoh powerbombs him to the mat. Shining Wizard by Mutoh, cover, but it only gets a two count. Backbreaker by Mutoh, he goes up to the top turnbuckle and nails the moonsault. Cover, and he gets the three count! Your winner and new champion: Keiji Mutoh

Match Thoughts: A masterful performance by Mutoh. He was completely focused on the leg, which was only dragged down by the fact that Nakamura never sold it when a move wasn't being applied. Mutoh sold the arm and did everything he could to the leg, but Nakamura I don't think ever sold it on his own when he wasn't in a hold. But Mutoh threw everything at him, even pulling out a wicked dragon screw neckbreaker. To his credit Nakamura did well besides the leg selling, as he also tried a few different moves and seemed to understand that the cross armbreaker was his key to victory and had he managed to keep it locked in he would have won. The surprising thing for me was the crowd.... obviously I know that Mutoh was a trueborn, but so is Nakamura, and Mutoh was the "invading" wrestler. But the crowd was solidly behind Mutoh from start to finish, popping for a few of Nakamura's moves but in general chanting "Mutoh" and jumping to their feet when Mutoh picked up the win. A big moment in Mutoh's career and also for New Japan, as it gives them fresh matchups for the rest of the year and an attendance boost when Mutoh graces New Japan with his presence. Score: 8.0

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