Keiji Mutoh (武藤 敬司 Mutō Keiji, born December 23, 1962) is a Japanese professional wrestler, currently signed by Pro Wrestling NOAH (NOAH), where he is the current GHC Heavyweight Champion in his first reign.
He first gained international fame in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). He is mostly known for his work as The Great Muta in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) during the 1990s, but he has also worked in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Taiwan. He is a former president of All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW), as well as being a full-time wrestler for the promotion from 2002 to 2013. He also gained the rank of the Master Sergeant during his military service in Japan.
Mutoh is credited as one of the first Japanese wrestlers to achieve a fan base outside of his native Japan. The Great Muta gimmick is one of the most influential gimmicks in puroresu, having been emulated by many wrestlers including Satoshi Kojima (as The Great Koji), Kazushi Miyamoto (as The Great Kazushi), Atsushi Onita (as The Great Nita), and Seiya Sanada (as The Great Sanada). In addition, countless other wrestlers have paid tribute to Muta through emulation and imitation.
Mutoh is one of three wrestlers to hold the NWA World Heavyweight Championship, the AJPW Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship (the others being Shinya Hashimoto and Satoshi Kojima) and one of three wrestlers to hold all three of puroresus major heavyweight titles (New Japan Pro Wrestling's IWGP Heavyweight Championship, All Japan Pro Wrestling's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, and Pro Wrestling Noah's GHC Heavyweight Championship). He is also a former five-time AJPW World Tag Team Champion and a six-time IWGP Tag Team Champion.
He is also famous for taking part in what was generally considered to be the bloodiest professional wrestling match of all time against Hiroshi Hase, leading to the creation of the "Muta Scale" (which rates the bloodiness of matches, relative to this one's 1.0 value). Mutoh was the owner and founder of Wrestle-1 (W-1) and previously made special appearances for American promotion Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) as part of the TNA/W-1 talent exchange partnership. Between AJPW, NJPW, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) W-1 and NOAH, Mutoh has held a total of 23 championships.
- 1 Professional wrestling career
- 1.1 Early career (1984–1987)
- 1.2 World Wrestling Council and World Class Championship Wrestling (1988–1989)
- 1.3 National Wrestling Alliance (1989–1990)
- 1.4 New Japan Pro Wrestling (1990–2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019)
- 1.5 All Japan Pro Wrestling (2002–2013)
- 1.6 Wrestle-1 (2013–2020)
- 1.7 Pro Wrestling Noah (2020–Present)
- 2 Other media
- 3 Personal life
- 4 In wrestling
- 5 Championships and accomplishments
Professional wrestling career[edit | edit source]
Early career (1984–1987)[edit | edit source]
Mutoh was a judo black belt with experience in many national competitions prior to being trained by Hiro Matsuda in the New Japan Pro Wrestling Dojo. He debuted on October 5, 1984 against Masahiro Chono. In 1985, Mutoh was sent on his first learning excursion to the United States. Primarily wrestling in Florida as the "White Ninja", Mutoh teamed with Kendo Nagasaki before returning to New Japan in 1986, where he was nicknamed "Space Lone Wolf", a space-age type character that was briefly revived in 2005 by NOSAWA Rongai. In March 1987, Mutoh won the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Shiro Koshinaka, before losing the titles to Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada six days later. In the summer of 1987, Mutoh took part in the NOW vs. NEW feud, in which he aligned himself with Antonio Inoki and his group, teaming with the likes of Inoki, Seiji Sakaguchi, Yoshiaki Fujiwara, and Kantaro Hoshino, and battling the likes of Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Kengo Kimura, and Super Strong Machine.
World Wrestling Council and World Class Championship Wrestling (1988–1989)[edit | edit source]
In January 1988, Mutoh went on another excursion, this time in Puerto Rico for the World Wrestling Council under his new ring name, "The Super Black Ninja". He feuded with Miguel Perez, Jr., with whom he lost a hair vs. hair match to that April. It was in Puerto Rico he formed The Three Musketeers with Masahiro Chono and Shinya Hashimoto. He wrestled only one match in New Japan on July 29, before returning to Puerto Rico. In the fall of 1988, Mutoh moved to the Dallas, Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling, where he reunited with Kendo Nagasaki and had a very short lived feud with Kevin Von Erich before departing the organization in March 1989. Mutoh's personality and ring skills shown in his early American matches earned him a high billing within the National Wrestling Alliance.
National Wrestling Alliance (1989–1990)[edit | edit source]
Mutoh first appeared as "The Great Muta" in the NWA on the March 18, 1989 edition of WCW Saturday Night. His manager Gary Hart introduced him as the son of the Great Kabuki, whom Gary Hart also had managed years earlier. He wrestled his first match under the new persona on April 2 against Scott Casey. Muta would feud with stars like Lex Luger, Ric Flair, and Sting, from whom he would capture the NWA World Television Championship on September 3, 1989. Mutoh eventually lost the championship to Arn Anderson on January 2, 1990, which aired on the January 12, 1990 edition of WCW Power Hour, and some time after the Clash of the Champions on February 6, Mutoh would return to New Japan, going between his real name and his Muta gimmick as he pleased.
New Japan Pro Wrestling (1990–2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2019)[edit | edit source]
Mutoh quickly rose in the ranks upon returning to New Japan in March 1990. His Great Muta persona would make its NJPW debut six months later. In April 1990, he won his second IWGP Tag Team title with Masahiro Chono, defeating Shinya Hashimoto and Masa Saito. He and Chono would hold the titles for over six months, before finally losing them to Hiroshi Hase and Kensuke Sasaki. Meanwhile in World Championship Wrestling, it was announced on Clash of the Champions XIII that The Great Muta would be returning at Starrcade '90 to team with Mr. Saito. Less than a month later Mutoh teamed with Saito in the Pat O'Connor Memorial Tag-Team Tournament at Starrcade. The duo defeated The New Zealand Militia in the quarterfinals, then Victor Zangiev and Salmon Hasimikov (representing the USSR in the semi-finals. Muta and Saito were defeated by then US Tag Team Champions The Steiner Brothers in the finals.
Muta continued to make sporadic appearances within WCW during 1991 while wrestling regularly in New Japan. He was shown in attendance at WrestleWar 91, and then defeated old rival Sting at the combined New Japan/WCW Starrcade event on March 21, 1991 in Tokyo, Japan. Mutoh was entered into a match with United States Heavyweight Champion Lex Luger to determine the Number One Contender for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. On June 12 at Clash of the Champions XV, Muta was pinned by Luger to earn the right to challenge Ric Flair at The Great American Bash '91. He went on to wrestle several house shows that month before returning to Japan.
Mutoh and Chono, along with Hashimoto, cemented their status as the next generation of New Japan, surpassing Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, and Riki Choshu, after the finals of the first G1 Climax tournament on August 11. In an epic thirty-minute match, Mutoh was bested by Chono and, together with Hashimoto, the three celebrated in the ring, then afterwards they were officially labeled The Three Musketeers of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He closed out the year teaming with Hiroshi Hase to defeat Rick Steiner and Scott Norton to win the IWGP Tag Team Championship at Budokan Hall.
1992 began with Mutoh teaming with Sting for the first time in New Japan, as the duo defeated The Steiner Brothers on January 4th in the Tokyo Dome. In May he returned again to WCW and began appearing on house shows in tag-team matches with Nikita Koloff against Big Van Vader and Rick Rude. He returned to television on the May 30 episode of WCW Saturday Night, defeating Brad Armstrong in a best of three contest. On June 7 Muta was pinned by Scott Steiner at a house show at the Omni in Atlanta, GA. He finished out his short run facing Larry Zybysko on successive house shows, then returned to New Japan.
Mutoh was participated in the 1992 G1 Climax (which doubled as the NWA World Heavyweight Championship tournament). In the opening round in Shizuoka, Japan on August 6th he defeated Barry Windham. Four days later in Tokyo he pinned Steve Austin in the quarterfinals. On August 11th he was defeated by Masahiro Chono in the semi-finals. Chono repeated his success in the G1 Climax (winning the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in the process). Just four days later, Mutoh, donning his Muta persona, beat Japanese legend Riki Choshu for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, marking his first reign. On November 22, Muta successfully defended the title against Sting in Tokyo. On December 14, Muta faced Hiroshi Hase in a famous match where Hase used a foreign object to beat at Muta's forehead, as payback for their previous encounters, including the September 14, 1990 encounter, in which Muta busted Hase open. Muta bladed and cut very deeply into his forehead. As a result of this, Muta bled profusely for the rest of the match, and to this day he still bears scars from where he sliced.
On December 25, he returned to WCW to begin another short stint, losing to Sting in a non-title match in Jacksonville, Florida. He wrestled Sting again on the house show circuit, as well as Steve Austin. On December 28 he made his fourth successive Starrcade appearance, teaming with Barry Windham to defeat Brian Pillman and 2 Cold Scorpio. Later that night Muta eliminated Windham to win the Starrcade 92 BattleBowl.
For a short time in 1993, after beating Chono in a title versus title match at Fantastic Story in Tokyo Dome (known in North America as WCW/New Japan Supershow III), Mutoh held both the NWA and IWGP championships at the same time (being one of only two men ever to do so along with Tatsumi Fujinami); the unification was short-lived, as Barry Windham beat him a month later for the NWA World title at SuperBrawl III. As IWGP champion, Mutoh had a variety of challengers in title matches and exhibitions, including Hulk Hogan, Sting, The Great Kabuki, and his fellow members of the Three Musketeers, Chono and Hashimoto, before finally losing the title on September 20, 1993 to Hashimoto. Following this title loss and a match with Hogan against the Hellraisers (the team of Hawk Warrior and Kensuke Sasaki as Power Warrior), Mutoh returned to fighting primarily under his real name, reviving the Muta name for certain matches, such as a special match with Antonio Inoki during his retirement countdown. During this time, Mutoh created a team with Hiroshi Hase, working their way up the ranks against the likes of the Steiner Brothers to challenge the Hellraisers in November 1994 and capturing the IWGP Tag Team championship—his third tag title.
On April 17, 1994 Mutoh returned to WCW to face Stunning Steve Austin at Spring Stampede for the WCW United States Championship. Austin defeated him by disqualification. This would be his last US appearance for nearly a year, and he would not return until February 19, 1995 when he was shown in the crowd at SuperBrawl IV.
While having the Tag Team title around his waist was fine, Mutoh had further ambitions: beating the man who took his title, Shinya Hashimoto; by now the IWGP champion for nearly a year. His second title reign came on May 3, 1995—a year and two days after Hashimoto won the championship from Fujinami. After winning the IWGP title, Mutoh and Hase vacated the Tag Team titles so Mutoh could focus on his Heavyweight title. He returned to WCW on May 21, 1995 to defeat Paul Orndorff at Slamboree '95.
Afterwards, Mutoh went on to win the 1995 G1 Climax, beating Hashimoto in the finals to become the first of two men to win the G1 as IWGP Heavyweight Champion (Kensuke Sasaki would achieve this feat in 2000). Mutoh held the IWGP title throughout the rest of the year, leading New Japan in the opening battles of the feud with Nobuhiko Takada and the UWF-i army before losing his title to Takada on January 4, 1996 at the Tokyo Dome. The latter half of 1996 had Mutoh pitted against Chono's Ookami Gundan—or Wolf Army, which eventually blossomed into a war with the Chono-led nWo Japan. In the process, Mutoh began teasing at a possible turn to the side of the nWo, proclaiming himself to be the true successor to Antonio Inoki's legacy, and "accidentally" attacking his own partners in the middle of a match.
During this period, Mutoh underwent a long slump in big matches, losing not only to members of the nWo, but fellow New Japan wrestlers such as Hashimoto; and many times the turn was teased. Mutoh would even wear an nWo shirt only to proclaim days later that he refuses to join Chono's army. Mutoh further raised confusion by playing both sides of the feud; fighting as a member of New Japan under his real name, and as The Great Muta in nWo Japan, before being The Great Muta full-time for several months in 1997. The full turn came in September 1997, when Mutoh, after teasing a turn on his nWo teammates, double-crossed Sasaki and Kazuo Yamazaki, sealing away the Muta name and formally joining nWo Japan as himself. Almost immediately following this, he and Chono dominated the tag team scene in NJPW, defeating Yamazaki and Sasaki for their second IWGP tag title reign as a duo, and spray-painting the plates of the belts black as a show of disrespect for the championship's legacy.
They eventually would be forced to vacate the title in May 1998, when Mutoh injured his knees, as his years of using the moonsault press were finally catching up to him. During this time, he took a hiatus from action, returning just before the 1998 G1 Climax (from which he was eliminated by Genichiro Tenryu in the first round). Despite his return, Mutoh was plagued by this nagging injury, fighting through his pain throughout the rest of 1998 and all of 1999; even winning his third IWGP Heavyweight title from one of Chono's right-hand men, Scott Norton. Towards the end of 1998, Mutoh took the leadership of nWo Japan, after Chono suffered a neck injury and was out of action, turning the nWo into a face stable, which Chono didn't like. Mutoh feuded with Chono for the name of the nWo, which evolved into a war between the nWo, led by Mutoh, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, and Satoshi Kojima and Chono's new Team 2000 unit, with himself, Don Frye, Super J, and others from the old generation of the nWo. On December 10, 1999, Mutoh lost the IWGP Championship to Tenryu. The war between Chono and Mutoh was lost by Mutoh by January 2000, brought about by his decisive loss to Chono on January 4.
Mutoh took an extended hiatus to rehabilitate his damaged knees after that, focusing instead on one last run in America for World Championship Wrestling alongside Vampiro. Due to the bad booking and the decline of WCW in its last years, however, Mutoh could not recapture the previous popularity he had in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He returned to television on the July 11th, 2000 episode of WCW Thunder and teamed with The Jung Dragons against Three Count and Tank Abbott. A week later he appeared on Nitro, defeating Vampiro in the quarterfinals of the United States Heavyweight Championship tournament. Later that night he was pinned by Mike Awesome in the semifinals. He won the WCW World Tag-Team Championship with Vampiro at New Blood Rising against Kronik. They lost it the next night on Nitro against the team of Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera. His last WCW match came at a house show on September 23, 2000 in Lubbock, TX against Sting.
After leaving WCW, a no-compete clause in his WCW contract prevented him from competing in the World Wrestling Federation.
After a planned tag team match with FMW's Hayabusa for Wrestling World 2001 was canceled due to Hayabusa's career-ending injury, it seemed as if Mutoh reached a confusing crossroads in his career; however, he chose to completely change his image, shaving his head bald (he had a pronounced receding hairline throughout much of 2000), growing out a goatee, and aligning himself with a fellow NJPW wrestler who had gone overseas for an extended period of time, Shinjiro Otani. The two returned to New Japan on January 4, 2001 at Wrestling World 2001, making short work of Manabu Nakanishi and Jushin Thunder Liger. In his first singles match after returning to New Japan on March 18, 2001, Mutoh debuted his new trademark move, the Shining Wizard. Since its creation, it has become an extremely popular move on both sides of the Pacific, used by Mutoh's allies, rivals, and fans of his work. Together with Don Frye, Otani and Mutoh created a new stable which later came to be known as BATT (Bad Ass Translate Trading). Added to their ranks were Taiyō Kea of All Japan Pro Wrestling and Jinsei Shinzaki of Michinoku Pro; later added was Hiroshi Hase, now a member of All Japan with Kea. 2001 proved to be Mutoh's year of renewal besides the formation of a new unit, as he challenged, and defeated, Tenryu for All Japan's coveted Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. In addition, Mutoh captured more gold in the form of All Japan's World Tag Team Championship and IWGP Tag Team Championship in the summer and fall of 2001, both with Taiyō Kea—giving Mutoh a total of six belts at one time.
On January 4, 2008, at Wrestle Kingdom II in Tokyo Dome, under the Muta persona, he defeated Hirooki Goto. On April 27, 2008, Mutoh beat Shinsuke Nakamura to win his fourth IWGP Heavyweight Championship, this was his second appearance in 2008 for NJPW and hadn't held the title for eight years and four months prior to the win. Mutoh went on to defend the IWGP championship against Manabu Nakanishi, Togi Makabe and Goto and at New Japan's Destruction '08 show on October 13, he defended the title against Shinsuke Nakamura in a rematch and retained following a Frankensteiner.
On January 4, 2009, Mutoh put the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on the line at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom III in Tokyo Dome against his former student Hiroshi Tanahashi. Mutoh lost the match, when Tanahashi used his signature High Fly Flow twice to get the pin. After the match, Mutoh said backstage that he had passed Tanahashi his sash after doing his best for over half a year to raise the worth of the title, and suggested that he will withdraw and leave New Japan to move their company forward.
On January 4, 2012, Mutoh made a return to New Japan at Wrestle Kingdom VI in Tokyo Dome, where he defeated Tetsuya Naito in a singles match. A year later at Wrestle Kingdom 7 in Tokyo Dome, Mutoh teamed with Shinjiro Otani, a replacement for an injured Daichi Hashimoto, in a tag team match, where they were defeated by Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. Mutoh returned to New Japan again a year later at Wrestle Kingdom 8 in Tokyo Dome, now working as The Great Muta in a tag team match, where he and Toru Yano defeated Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki and Shelton X Benjamin). As the only face in the match, Muta turned on Yano towards the end of the match, but his green mist accidentally hit Suzuki instead, leading to Yano pinning him for the win.
On April 6, 2019, Mutoh made his return under his Great Muta persona at G1 Supercard as a surprise entrant in the Honor Rumble Match, where he was eliminated by Kenny King.
All Japan Pro Wrestling (2002–2013)[edit | edit source]
On January 11, 2002, following the end of a year-long cross-promotional angle with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Keiji Mutoh shocked the Japanese wrestling world by defecting to All-Japan as a full-time competitor, taking Satoshi Kojima and Kendo Kashin with him. At the Nippon Budokan on July 20, Mutoh wrestled as three different characters on the card: "Kokushi Muso", defeating Kaz Hayashi on the second match, himself in the mid-card, and in the second-to-last match, he defeated Kojima, under his "Great Koji" persona, as The Great Muta. On September 30, during an All Japan 30th Anniversary party at the famed Tokyo City Hotel, Mokoto Baba officially announced Mutoh's appointment as the new president of All Japan, transferring all of the Baba family stock to him. Despite this position, however, Mutoh has not stopped wrestling full-time for All Japan, and lead his supporters in feuds with the Voodoo Murders. On December 27, 2003, Mutoh made a return to the United States, wrestling for the Ring of Honor promotion as part of an interpromotional All Japan vs. ROH card, which hosted a series of cross-promotional "dream" matches. In the main event, Mutoh reverted to his Great Muta persona and teamed with Arashi to defeat Prophecy members Christopher Daniels and Dan Maff.
He made his British debut on January 12, 2007, wrestling for Real Quality Wrestling at the York Hall in Green, London, England, where he defeated RQW Heavyweight Champion Martin Stone in a non-title match. Mutoh recently won the 2007 Champion Carnival, competing in Block A and finishing with 6 points total; Mutoh defeated Toshiaki Kawada in the finals on March 30, 2007.
In March 2007, while Mutoh was in Orlando, Florida in order to establish a working agreement between All Japan and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), he made an appearance for the company, under his Great Muta gimmick, at the Destination X pay-per-view, in a segment with Christian Cage. In February 2009 Mutoh was featured in multiple interview segments, taped in Japan, where he spoke of his student Akira Raijin, who had just began working for TNA.
On September 29, 2008, wrestling as The Great Muta, he defeated Suwama to capture the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship, becoming only the second wrestler, after Satoshi Kojima, to hold the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship and the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at the same time.
On March 14, 2009, Mutoh defended his Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship against Yoshihiro Takayama. He bloodied him severely, as is his trademark, and even used the Shining Wizard to his opponent on the barricade. During the course of the match, however, his mask was ripped off, and he was bleeding profusely. Towards the end of the match, Takayama dominated Muta, but Muta reversed a kick into a Dragon Screw, and attempted to use the Asian Mist against him, but Takayama blocked it, and performed an Everest Suplex Pin on Muta, and won the match. Muta subsequently walked away in shock of what had happened.
On January 30, 2010, Mutoh, under his Great Muta gimmick, made a special appearance for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in Los Angeles, California, during the WrestleReunion 4 weekend, teaming up with KAI in a match, where they defeated the team of Joey Ryan and Scott Lost.
In April 2010 Mutoh went through a reconstructive knee surgery that would keep him out of the ring for the rest of the year. Mutoh made his return on September 10, 2010, when he faced Masakatsu Funaki in a special return match.
On June 7, 2011, Mutoh announced his resignation as the president of All Japan Pro Wrestling. He will remain in the promotion as an active wrestler and a member of the Supervisory Board. Mutoh's decision stemmed from a real-life incident where TARU assaulted Nobukazu Hirai backstage at an All Japan Pro Wrestling show, which led to Hirai suffering a stroke after competing in a match. Mutoh took the blame for the incident, which led to All Japan suspending not only Taru, but also Mazada, Masayuki Kono and Minoru Tanaka who were present when the attack took place. After being on the midcard and without a big feud for most of 2011, Mutoh became the main challenger for NOAH's Jun Akiyama, who had won the Triple Crown Championship from Suwama, and after Akiyama defended the title successfully 2 times (against Taiyō Kea and Takao Omori), Akiyama challenged Mutoh to a match that took place in March 2012, which Mutoh eventually lost. On June 1, 2012, Mutoh returned to the United States to make an appearance for Pro Wrestling Syndicate (PWS) in Rahway, New Jersey, teaming with Kai to defeat Anthony Nese and Sami Callihan in a tag team match.
In November 2012, Mutoh and his business partners sold all of their All Japan shares to the Speed Partners corporation for ¥ 200 million. On June 1, 2013, Speed Partners president Nobuo Shiraishi took over as the new president of All Japan, firing previous president, Mutoh's longtime right-hand man Masayuki Uchida, in the process, which led to Mutoh resigning from the promotion, effective June 30, 2013.
Wrestle-1 (2013–2020)[edit | edit source]
On July 10, 2013, Mutoh announced the foundation of a promotion named Wrestle-1, bringing over many of the former wrestlers of All Japan Pro-Wrestling that left in June. At the promotion's inaugural event on September 8, Mutoh teamed with Bob Sapp in a main event tag team match, where they defeated René Duprée and Zodiac. During Wrestle-1's second show on September 15, Mutoh made his first Japanese appearance as The Great Muta in two years, when he and Tajiri defeated Duprée and Zodiac in a tag team match. On October 18, Mutoh announced his semi-retirement, saying that in the future he would only work Wrestle-1's larger events. On March 2, 2014, Mutoh put his career on the line at Kaisen: Outbreak, Wrestle-1's first event in Ryōgoku Kokugikan. Mutoh teamed with Rob Terry and the debuting Taiyō Kea in a six-man tag team match, where they defeated Masayuki Kono, René Duprée and Samoa Joe, thus saving his career. Through Wrestle-1's working relationship with TNA, Mutoh, working under his Great Muta persona, returned to the American promotion on March 9 at Lockdown, where he, Sanada and Yasu defeated Chris Sabin, Christopher Daniels and Kazarian in a six-man tag team steel cage match. Muta returned to TNA on the July 25, 2014, defeating Robbie E at an Impact Wrestling taping in New York City. After the match, Sanada turned on Muta. This led to a match at Wrestle-1's Shōgeki: Impact event on July 6, where The Great Muta defeated Sanada in a main event singles match. On September 22, Mutoh suffered his first direct loss since March 2012, when he was submitted by Masayuki Kono in a four-on-three handicap match, where he and the Novus stable (Jiro Kuroshio, Koji Doi and Rionne Fujiwara) faced the Desperado stable (Kono, Kazma Sakamoto and Ryoji Sai). On October 12, Mutoh, as the Great Muta, worked TNA's Bound for Glory event in Tokyo, teaming with Tajiri in a tag team main event, where they defeated James Storm and The Great Sanada. On November 1, during an event celebrating his 30th anniversary in professional wrestling, Mutoh defeated Masayuki Kono to become the second Wrestle-1 Champion. He made his first successful title defense on December 22 against Seiya Sanada. His second defense took place on January 30, 2015, when he defeated Manabu Soya. On February 16, Mutoh, as the Great Muta, returned to TNA, defeating Mr. Anderson as part of Global Impact: USA vs The World. On March 8, Mutoh lost the Wrestle-1 Championship to Kai in his third defense. On March 27, 2017, Mutoh announced he was stepping down as the president of Wrestle-1 with Kaz Hayashi taking over the position. Mutoh remained with the promotion as its representative director. On February 29, 2020, Hayashi announced that all activities of Wrestle-1 would be suspended indefinitely after April 1 with all of the contracted wrestlers being released on March 31, leading Mutoh to admit his inability to run the promotion in the first place.
Pro Wrestling Noah (2020–Present)[edit | edit source]
Following the closure of Wrestle-1, Mutoh began regularly working for Pro Wrestling Noah, starting on April 19, when Mutoh, Kaito Kiyomiya, and Minoru Tanaka faced Sugiura-gun (Hideki Sekine, Hideki Suzuki and Kazushi Sakuraba) in a winning effort. Since May, Mutoh began feuding with Kiyomiya, who proclaimed his ambition of having a dream match against him. Meanwhile, Mutoh seeked to face Kiyomiya as an oppurtunity to challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. On June 20, Mutoh formed the M's Alliance stable with Naomichi Marufuji, Masaaki Mochizuki, and Yuko Miyamoto, with the stable consisting of the letter M of each member of the stable. On July 18, Mutoh and Marufuji faced Kiyomiya and reigning GHC Heavyweight Champion Go Shiozaki in a winning effort. On August 10 at NOAH The Chronicle Vol. 3, Mutoh defeated Kiyomiya in their singles match. On December 6, 2020 at Noah the Best 2020, after Go Shiozaki successfully defended the GHC Heavyweight Championship against Takashi Sugiura, Mutoh challenged to Shiozaki to a title match at Destination, which Shiozaki accepted. At the event on February 12, 2021, Mutoh defeated Go Shiozaki to win the GHC Heavyweight Championship. With this victory, Mutoh became the third wrestler (the others being Kensuke Sasaki and Yoshihiro Takayama) to win the three major heavyweight titles in Japan: NOAH's GHC Heavyweight Championship, New Japan's IWGP Heavyweight Championship, and All Japan's Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship. After the match, Kaito Kiyomiya challenged Mutoh to a title match. However, Mutoh left the ring without answering. Three days later, Noah officially announced that Mutoh had signed a two-year contract with the promotion.
Other media[edit | edit source]
Mutoh has appeared in a vast number of media appearances in Japan, including many commercials and films. Mutoh was interviewed for wrestling documentary Bloodstained Memoirs. In 1995, Mutoh starred in the Japanese thriller Yajuu Densetsu: Dragon Blue, as Ryusaki, a suave detective who joins forces with a beautiful young spiritualist named Mazuki (played by Hiroko Tanaka) to solve a bizarre case of killings from a mystical sea creature.
In 2004, he played the role of Harold Sakata in the movie Rikidōzan, a film based on the real-life story of a wrestler who would eventually be known as the "Father of Puroresu"; Harold Sakata took Rikidozan under his wing and introduced him into the world of professional wrestling.
In 2006, he appeared as a guest star in the Japanese historical drama series Saiyūki, playing a village headman who is helped by Son Gokū (played by Shingo Katori).
Personal life[edit | edit source]
In 1992, Mutoh married his wife, Hisae Ashida. Together they have two children, a son (born 1996) and a daughter, Airi (born 2000), who is an actress and has made an appearance for Wrestle-1.
Mutoh describes the United States as his soul-homeland. He often praises American wrestling fans, Mutoh has been quoted saying that American wrestling fans "are not just onlookers, but also match-producers".
In wrestling[edit | edit source]
- Finishing moves
- Figure-four leglock
- Muta Lock – innovated
- Senkou Youjutsu' (Shining Wizard) – 2001–present; innovated
- Signature moves
- Asian mist
- Cradle piledriver
- Cross armbreaker
- Dragon screw
- Dragon suplex
- Dropkick sometimes from the top rope or to an opponent's knees
- Flashing Elbow (Running twisting elbow drop)
- Handspring back elbow
- Leaping clothesline
- Nenbutsu Powerbomb (Sitout powerbomb, with theatrics) – adopted from Hakushi
- Rib breaker
- Rope hung snap swinging neckbreaker
- Rolling savate kick
- Space Rolling Elbow (Cartwheel back elbow to a cornered opponent)
- Triangle choke
- Gary Hart
- Megu Fujiura
- Oliver Humperdink
- "Natural Born Master"
- Entrance themes
- "The Final Countdown" by Europe (NJPW)
- "Hold Out (Prototype)" by Osamu Suzuki (NJPW)
- "Hold Out" by Osamu Suzuki (NJPW/W-1)
- "Championtaka (Instrumental)" by Hong Kong Explosion (NJPW)
- "Muta (Prototype)" by Osamu Suzuki (NJPW)
- "Muta" by Osamu Suzuki (NJPW)
- "Symbol (Prototype)" by Osamu Suzuki (AJPW)
- "Symbol" by Osamu Suzuki (AJPW)
- "Symbol – Win" by Osamu Suzuki (AJPW)
- "Muta Inden" by Osamu Suzuki (AJPW)
- "Muta Yami no Shocho" by Osamu Suzuki (AJPW)
- "Tokyo Takeaway" by Paul Osborne and Hans Engstrom (WCW)
- "Great Muta Concerto" by Taketa Magic Orchestra (AJPW/NJPW)
- "Muta Praise Bloom" by Heart Blow (AJPW/ROH/W-1)
- "Trans Magic" by Heart Blow (AJPW/NJPW)
- "East of the Orient" by Dale Oliver TNA)
- "Hold Out A" by Osamu Suzuki (W-1)
Championships and accomplishments[edit | edit source]
- All Japan Pro Wrestling
- F-1 Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kannazuki1
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Taiyō Kea (1), Arashi (1), Joe Doering (1), Masakatsu Funaki (1) and KENSO (1)
- Akiho Yoshizawa Cup (2010) – with Masakatsu Funaki and S1 Mask
- Champion Carnival (2002, 2004, 2007)
- Giant Baba Six Man Cup (2002) – with George Hines and Kaz Hayashi
- January 2 Korakuen Hall Heavyweight Battle Royal (2011)
- January 3 Korakuen Hall Junior Heavyweight Battle Royal (2011)
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (2001) – with Taiyō Kea
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (2007) – with Joe Doering
- World's Strongest Tag Determination League (2009) – with Masakatsu Funaki
- Championship Wrestling from Florida
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Continental Wrestling Federation
- NWA Southeastern United States Junior Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Jim Crockett Promotions/World Championship Wrestling
- NWA World Television Championship (1 time)
- WCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Vampiro
- BattleBowl (1992)
- New Japan Pro Wrestling
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (6 times) – with Hiroshi Hase (2), Masahiro Chono (2), Shiro Koshinaka (1) and Taiyō Kea (1)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Greatest 18 Championship (1 time)
- G1 Climax (1995)
- Super Grade Tag League/G1 Tag League (1993, 1994) – with Hiroshi Hase
- G1 Tag League (1997) – with Masahiro Chono
- G1 Tag League (1998) – with Satoshi Kojima
- G1 Tag League (1999) – with Scott Norton
- MVP Award (2001)
- Singles Best Bout (2001) vs. Yuji Nagata on August 12
- Tag Team Best Bout (2001) with Hiroshi Hase vs. Jun Akiyama and Yuji Nagata on October 8
- Nikkan Sports
- Match of the Year (1999) vs. Genichiro Tenryu on May 3
- Match of the Year (2001) with Hiroshi Hase vs. Yuji Nagata & Jun Akiyama on October 8
- Outstanding Performance Award (1998)
- Tag Team of the Year (2009) with Masakatsu Funaki
- Technique Award (1997)
- Wrestler of the Year (1999, 2001, 2008)
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- PWI ranked him #3 of the 500 best singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2002
- PWI ranked him #25 of the top 500 singles wrestlers of the "PWI Years" in 2003
- Tokyo Sports
- Match of the Year (1999) with Genichiro Tenryu on May 3, 1999
- Match of the Year (2011) with Kenta Kobashi vs. Takashi Iizuka and Toru Yano, All Together, August 27
- Performance Award (1998)
- Rookie of the Year (1986)
- Special Award (1989)
- Tag Team of the Year (1990) with Masahiro Chono
- Tag Team of the Year (2005) with Akebono
- Wrestler of the Year (1995, 1999, 2001, 2008)
- Pro Wrestling Noah
- GHC Heavyweight Championship (1 time, current)
- Total Nonstop Action Wrestling
- Global Impact Tournament (2015) – with Team International (Angelina Love, Bram, Drew Galloway, The Great Sanada, Khoya, Magnus, Rockstar Spud, Sonjay Dutt and Tigre Uno)
- World Wrestling Council
- WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC World Television Championship (1 time)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Wrestling Maneuver (2001) Shining Wizard
- Match of the Year (2001) vs. Genichiro Tenryu on June 8, Tokyo, Japan
- Most Improved Wrestler (2001)
- Wrestler of the Year (2001)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame (Class of 1999)
- 5 Star Match (1987) with Shiro Koshinaka vs. Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada on March 20
- 5 Star Match (1991) vs Big Van Vader at NJPW G1 Climax Day 3 on August 9
- Other achievements
- Bahamut Championship (1 time) – with Sugi-chan
1 Championship not officially recognized by All Japan Pro Wrestling.
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