The forbidden door is open in Stamford, Connecticut. This past weekend, Pro Wrestling NOAH announced that WWE superstar Shinsuke Nakamura would be taking on The Great Muta at NOAH's The New Year 2023 event this upcoming January 1st. Not only is this Nakamura's first NOAH match in nearly a decade, but this marks the first time WWE has collaborated with another major wrestling promotion in years. Aside from sending NXT UK stars to work one-off matches for independent promotions like PROGRESS Wrestling and ICW, WWE has rarely allowed its contracted talent to work outside of the company.
As reported by Tokyo Sports, Nakamura heading to NOAH has been in the works for a while. NOAH reportedly wanted Nakamura as soon as The Great Muta began embarking on his retirement tour, but talks fell through during the Vince McMahon regime. NOAH continued chatting with WWE after McMahon resigned from his corporate positions and were able to reach a deal earlier last week to bring the King of Strong Style in for one match.
"There were people in WWE who pushed me forward. It's nothing short of a miracle," Nakamura said regarding the match. "Of course, I wanted to do it. It was an area that no one had ever stepped into, or rather, I opened a door that no one had been able to pry open (laughs). It's a real 'Forbidden Door.'"
American audiences would have last seen The Great Muta on AEW TV, as he made a surprise appearance at AEW Rampage: Grand Slam to assist Sting and Darby Allin in their fight against the House of Black. That won't be the last time Muta and Sting share a ring, as the two are scheduled to tag together in Muta's final match at The Great Muta Final Bye-Bye event on January 22nd, 2023.
Nakamura's NOAH match will also be the first time that he's wrestled outside of WWE since 2016. The former IWGP Heavyweight Champion made his name in New Japan Pro Wrestling, competing there for 14 years. One of his final matches there came against AJ Styles at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10, successfully defending the IWGP Intercontinental Title. That match would end up being fairly historic, as it went down roughly one month before both men arrived in WWE. Beyond that, it set the stage for their eventual feud and WWE WrestleMania 34 contest.