Update On WWE Wrestlers Working Elsewhere Following Nakamura/Muta

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Great Muta, WWE vs. NOAH... a sign of things to come?

Shinsuke Nakamura

This weekend brought major news from Japan. Pro Wrestling NOAH announced WWE's Shinsuke Nakamura for its The New Year 2023 show on 1 January, with the former NJPW star set to face the legendary Great Muta as part of Keiji Mutoh's ongoing retirement tour.

Nakamura and the 59-year-old have not gone one-on-one since October 2008. Additionally, the announcement represents a break from the norm for WWE, as the market leaders have traditionally exercised complete control over its independent contractors' bookings, not permitting them to take outside work.

Whether or not Nakamura vs. Muta is a one-off or a sign of things to come is currently unclear. Nonetheless, Dave Meltzer writes in the Figure Four Online/Wrestling Observer Daily Update that the situation "shows a change in WWE." That the promotion is breaking its usual policy by allowing Nakamura to travel could be seen as a sign of how huge Muta's retirement is, though only time will tell if a trend emerges.


Nakamura vs. Muta comes weeks before another big NOAH crossover, with AEW's Sting heading to Japan to team with his follow legend on 23 January.

Billed "Great Muta Final 'Bye-Bye'", that 23 January will be Mutoh's last bout with The Great Muta gimmick, and is to be held in the 17,000-seater Yokohama Arena.

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Andy has been with WhatCulture for six years and is currently WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter. A writer, presenter, and editor with 10+ years of experience in online media, he has been a sponge for all wrestling knowledge since playing an old Royal Rumble 1992 VHS to ruin in his childhood. Having previously worked for Bleacher Report, Andy specialises in short and long-form writing, video presenting, voiceover acting, and editing, all characterised by expert wrestling knowledge and commentary. Andy is as much a fan of 1985 Jim Crockett Promotions as he is present-day AEW and WWE - just don't make him choose between the two.