One of the highlights during the TNA Impact Wrestling Lockdown pay-per-view at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables was the rare United States wrestling appearance of the Great Muta.
The puroresu, Japanese wrestling legend teamed with X Division champion Sanada and Yasu to defeat Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Kazarian) and Chris Sabin. Muta, real name Keiji Muto, electrified the crowd with his signature moves, as well as executing his trademark spewing mist (green and red) from his mouth.
The match was part of TNA’s ongoing partnership with Muta’s Wrestle-1 promotion, which was officially launched in the summer. On March 2, a contingent of TNA stars competed against some of Wrestle-1’s best and brightest in Japan. The action was taped for an upcoming One Night Only PPV called Outbreak that will air in North America. It was also at this event from the Ryogoku Kokugikan Sumo Arena where Sanada defeated Austin Aries to capture the X Division title.
Muta was in high spirits about growing Wrestle-1’s presence beyond the Orient as he signed autographs and took photos with those who attended TNA’s Lockdown Fan InterAction in Miami the day before the PPV. Muta wore his Muto bear hat and shirt. The animated bear character is popular with wrestling fans in Japan and other circles, too.
A 30-year-veteran of the business, Muta gained a large fan base in the United States thanks to his work in the NWA and WCW in the late 1980s to early 1990s. He became known for his ability, persona and face paint, which drew comparisons to Sting. They had a stellar feud as well.
“It’s not only the wrestling business. Every business now is globalizing,” Muta said in Japanese with translation from Jimmy Suzuki, who serves as the general manager for the North American region of Wrestle-1.
“The information nowadays spreads all over the world. When we started Wrestle-1, the very first step and the first thing on my mind was globalization. So we went to the TNA office to have a meeting with Jeff Jarrett. So at that time we started the idea of having a world cup of professional wrestling. That was the idea and what we want to do. Jeff Jarrett says, ‘Let’s do the world cup of professional wrestling.’ So we started from there. After that, Jeff Jarrett came. AJ Styles came to Japan for a title match…We want to make a worldwide alliance.”
Even though TNA founder Jeff Jarrett is no longer with the company, Suzuki says they plan to move forward with the partnership.
“We have to make a foundation in Japan first,” Suzuki said. “We are trying to do about 70 shows in the first year.”
He continued: “Sanada is planning on staying here [TNA] as long as he keeps the X Division title.”
TNA has been known to reach out to other promotions as a way to supply international talent. Lockdown also featured Tigre Uno (Extreme Tiger from AAA in Mexico). He stood victorious against Manik.
• Follow Muta on Twitter @muto_keiji and Wrestle-1 @W_1_official if you can read Japanese. Follow TNA Impact Wrestling @ImpactWrestling and www.impactwrestling.com for updates and more information on this partnership.
• See Wrestle-1’s Sanada appear over the next few weeks on Impact Wrestling at 9 p.m. EST Thursdays on Spike TV.
• Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.