Keiji Mutoh Countdown to Retirement
Photo & Text by Tokio Tsukada. Edited by Kyle Dunning.
Mutoh, who once said, “Wrestling is a marathon without a finish line,” has retracted those words and will have his retirement match on February 21, 2023, at the Tokyo Dome. Speaking of Muto, there is another face, the Great Muta, who shook the entire United States. As the Great Muta, he has made a name for himself as a heel in the U.S. since 1988, and in WCW, he has faced big names such as Sting and Ric Flair. Sting, who has had brilliant matches in Japan and the U.S., has also been featured in Pro Wrestling Noah’s public videos. He said:
“Muta is a great wrestler. Many wrestlers from Japan came to the U.S., but he was outstanding among them. He had a great match with me that rocked the U.S. as well. I’m sure American fans will be disappointed to hear about his retirement. I’m going to retire the same way as Muta, but I want to say good luck to him.”
The Return-Pro-Wrestling Love Forever. 3 Triumph
On November 30, Pro-Wrestling Noah held a semi-final six-man tag team match as Muto’s retirement road to a packed Ariake Arena in Tokyo. Mutoh teamed up with Marufuji and Inamura against Tanahashi, Makabe, and Honma, and Muto showed moves that belied their impending retirement at age 59, performing his signature Shining Wizard and figure-four leg lock, which gave the Mutoh team to win the match.
After the match, Muto said, “This is the last one for the year. There was a lot of cheering today, and I was glad to hear Muto’s call after a long time. But I wonder if it was really a shout of appreciation for his labor. I really wanted to have a match as a heel where I could hear the calls of my opponents,” he responded to the assembled press, showing that he still has the momentum to be a wrestler. Then came a big surprise. On January 1 next year at the Nippon Budokan, it will hold a special match. Great Muta vs. WWE’s Shinsuke Nakamura in a special singles match was announced. This surprise drew a roar from the packed Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
In addition, on January 22, he will finally retire as The Great Muta at Yokohama Arena, and on February 21, he will have his final retirement match as Keiji Mutoh at Tokyo Dome. His opponent is still undecided, but since this is the first time in a long time that a big name is retiring, there are candidates from past opponents. Keep an eye on Muto and the Great Muta until the very end. The main event on November 30 was the GFC heavyweight championship match, in which Kazuyuki Fujita challenged champion Kaito Kiyomiya.
After a fierce battle, Kiyomiya defeated Fujita via Frankensteiner to make his first defense. As for the GHC Martial Arts Title, Makakazu Funaki and Kazushi Sakuraba fought for the GHC Martial Arts Title by the rules of give-up and TKO only. It was a deadly match, but in the end Funaki finished Sakuraba with a sleeper. A notable match was the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title match in which Ninja Mac challenged champion HAYATA. Ninja Mac’s amazing moves, using his extraordinary physical abilities, captivated the audience.
Ninja Mac is said to have spent his life training in Japan because of his admiration for Japanese etiquette and ninjas. He used to perform on the stage of Cirque du Soleil, so his exceptional skills are guaranteed. In the end, he repeatedly somersaulted to a diving, rolling clutch hold without touching the top ropes to Hayata on the apron. Hayata fell out of the ring, injured and retired. Ninja Mac became the new champion.
Although he is a junior and small at 165 cm, his impact is comparable to the main event. As with Great Muta, we will keep an eye on Ninja Mac’s progress. eWrestlingNews, with the cooperation of Pro Wrestling Noah, will cover the Great Muta’s retirement and Keiji Mutoh’s retirement match at 2023, reporting in detail not only the matches but also his words and the behind-the-scenes events. Please look forward to it. Thank you!