Ever since he first arrived in NXT in 2016, Shinsuke Nakamura's WWE career has been full of ups and downs. He had a showstopping debut at NXT TakeOver: Dallas against Sami Zayn and won the NXT Championship twice, but initially struggled to find his footing on the main roster. In 2018 he won the Men's Royal Rumble match and challenged AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, but by the end of their feud he was just a typical heel obsessed with low-blowing his opponents. He earned back some of his momentum by winning the United States Championship shortly after his feud with Styles was over, but then inexplicably stopped showing up on television.
His latest run has seen him tag with Rusev as a pair of foreign heels on SmackDown, but outside of a brief appearance at Super ShowDown in the 50-man battle royal he hasn't competed on television since April.
Nakamura recently gave an interview with the Japanese outlet J Sports ahead of WWE's live event tour of Japan, where he discussed how he's dealing with his current booking.
"Since I became a professional wrestler when I was 22 years old, I was able to come here without looking back," Nakamura said (translated from Japanese to English). "In 2015, there was a feeling that I had done in the Japanese ring, and I still wanted to keep trying. As the next step, we aim to raise one step further, and take one step to the area we have not touched before. The place for the challenge was WWE. Even now, the situation changes daily, and my position is up and down everyday, and I am living with it."
Nakamura rose through the ranks of the Japanese wrestling world during his 14-year stint in New Japan Pro Wrestling from 2002-2016. He eventually became one of the company's biggest stars alongside the like of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kazuchika Okada, winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship three times, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship five times and the G1 Climax tournament (2011). Nakamura competed in the main event of New Japan's equivalent to WrestleMania, the January 4 Tokyo Dome show now known as Wrestle Kingdom, six times.
The Japanese star left New Japan in early 2016 right around the same time as AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. While Styles has gone on to be a bonafide main event star in WWE with two runs as WWE Champion, Gallows and Anderson have also struggled to keep their momentum going as a tag team.
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