WWE star Shinsuke Nakamura traveled back to Japan to compete outside of WWE for the first time since 2016. His match against The Great Muta at the Noah The New Year 2023 event on January 1 produced “The King of Strong Style” the victor, though not without some controversy from the game. Nonetheless, fans had a rare opportunity to see one of the country’s biggest stars of the 2000s and 2010s take on a legend who is on the verge of retirement in Japan.
Nakamura also met some old friends on his trip back to Japan, including former WWE star and current IWGP Women’s Champion KAIRI. The “Pirate Princess” posted pictures of herself and Nakamura on social media on New Year’s Day before his fight against Muta. The images bear resemblance to an old photo the pair took in 2018, where the then-US Champion had a similar expression as she posed next to KAIRI, who was then enjoying her reign as NXT Women’s Champion.
While Nakamura’s appearance in NOAH was a one-off, KAIRI will continue to entertain Japanese fans. After ending her WWE run in 2020, the former Kabuki warrior returned to STARDOM in early 2022. Since then, KAIRI has remained undefeated at the company, and on November 20 she became the first IWGP Women’s Champion for NJPW. STARDOM’s sibling promotion as she defeated Mayu Iwatani in the Historic X-Over Main Event.
KAIRI will defend the IWGP Women’s Championship for the first time against Tam Nakano at Wrestle Kingdom 17, an event rumored to feature former WWE star Sasha Banks.