Real Name: Keiji Mutoh
Hometown: Yamanishi, Japan
Legitimate Height: 6’1″
Legitimate Weight: 245 lbs.
Other Names: White Ninja (NPJW), Super Ninja, the Great Muta (NJPW, WCW)
Debut Year: 1984
Signature Manoeuvres: Dragon-Screw Legwhip, Figure 4 Leglock, Shining Wizard and Moonsault
Prime years: 1988-‘94
Title Summary runs:
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Champion 21/5/86 – 6/86
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion w/ Shiro Koshinaka (20/3/87 – 26/3/87)
- NWA World Television Champion (3/9/89 – 2/1/90)
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion (2) w/ Masa Chono (27/4/90 – 2/11/90)
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion (3) w/ Hiroshi Hase (5/11/91 – 1/3/92)
- IWGP Heavyweight Champion (16/8/92 – 20/9/93)
- NWA World Heavyweight Champion (4/1/93 – 1/4/93)
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion (4) w/ Hiroshi Hase (4/1/93 – 10/6/95)
- IWGP Heavyweight Champion (2) (3/5/95 – 4/1/96)
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion (5) w/ Masa Chono (16/10/97 – 5/6/98)
- IWGP Heavyweight Champion (3) (4/1/99 – 1o/12/99)
- WCW World Tag-Team Champion w/ Vampiro (13/8/00 – 14/8/00)
- AJPW Triple Crown Champion (8/6/01 – 02)
- AJPW World Tag-Team Champion w/ Taiyo Kea (22/10/01 – 7/17/02)
- IWGP Tag-Team Champion(6) w/ Taiyo Kea (28/10/01 – 17/7/02)
- AJPW Triple Crown Champion(2) (27/10/02 – 23/2/03)
- AJPW World Tag Team Champion (2) w/Arashi (8/6/03 – 18/1/04)
- IWGP Tag Team Title League (1987)
- WCW Battlebowl 1992
- Super Grade Tag League 1993
- Super Grade Tag League 1994
- G1 Climax 1995
- Super Grade Tag League 1997
- Super Grade Tag League 1998
- G1 Tag League 1999
- Real World Tag League 2001
- Champion Carnival 2002
- Giant Baba 6 Man Cup
- AJPW World Tag Team Title Tournament (2003)
- Champion Carnval 2004
After graduating from the New Japan Academy, Mutoh worked his first match in 1984 under the guise of White Ninja. After an uneventful stint under the WM gimmick, Mutoh was sent to North American to grow as a worker, and captured the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship, winning the title on 5/21/86 and dropping it on 6/86. Back in Japan he then hooked up with The Great Kabuki and formed the tag team of The Rising Sons and had a decent run.
After Mutoh and Kabuki parted ways, he again hooked up in a tag team, this time with Shiro Koshinaka and the two captured IWGP Tag Team Titles (Mutoh’s first tag titles gold) when they went over Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Tanaka in a tournament final on 20/3/87. However their tag title run only last all of a week, as Maeda and Tanaka won the titles back on 26/3/87. Now a big name draw in Japan, Mutoh moved his sights to North America again, more precisely, World Championship Wrestling (WCW and NJPW had a talent trading/working agreement at the time).
Mutoh, now wrestling under the ‘Great Muta’ gimmick was an instant hit, and was put in a programme straight away with WCW’s top (baby) face Sting. The two clicked immediately and had classic matches which were mostly for the NWA T.V title, with Mutoh challenging and indeed in September ’89, management had enough faith in him to give him the nod to go over Sting for the title. His title run lasted a moderate four months, before starring at the lights for Arn Anderson.
In 1990, teaming with Masahiro Chono, Mutoh went over Masa Saito and Shinya Hashimoto to win the IWGP Tag Team Titles for a second time, holding onto the gold for a respectable seven month run. Splitting with Chono, Mutoh then formed another combo with Hiroshi Hase, and downed Rick and Scot Steiner on 5/11/91 in a great match at the Tokyo Dome for the IWGP Tag Team Tiles, Mutoh’s third time. Four months passed until Hase and Mutoh were toppled, by (Big Van) Vader and Bam Bam Bigelow.
Mutoh then returned to North America and WCW for some months, working matches against/with Sting, then returned back to Japan in 1992, and officially became the biggest draw in the business at the time downing legend Riki Choshu for the IWGP World Heavyweight title on 11/8/92 and ending on 20/9/93.
Mutoh then made history in an unprecedented move by going over Masahiro Chono to win the NWA World Heavyweight title, uniting it with the IWGP World Heavyweight title on 4/1/93 until 1/5/93 losing the title to Barry Windham. Proving to be every bit the company man, Mutoh then dropped the IWGP Heavyweight title to Shinya Hashimoto. Over the next two years, Mutoh would cement his status as a one of the best in the world by winning the 1993 and 1994 Super Grades tournaments and hooking up with Hiroshi Hase again to win (for the fourth time, on 4/1/93) the IWGP Tag titles.
Defending the title for a lengthy six months, the duo was forced to vacate (on 10/6/95) after Mutoh downed Shinya Hashimoto on 3/5/95 for the IWGP Heavyweight title, for the second time. This time his title run lasted eight months until 4/1/96 when he jobbed to Nobuhiko Tanaka. With the huge success WCW was having in North America with the n.W.o gimmick, and NJPW and WCW still having a working agreement, the n.W.o International gimmick was carted over to Japan, with the n.W.o faction being led by No.1 heel Masahiro Chono. Mutoh had an integral part of the success of the gimmick in NJPW, as Mutoh was the n.W.o’s main challenger. After going over Chono in a big-time match, Mutoh turned heel and eventually joined the heel stable, donning the face paint and under the guise of The Great Muta (the gimmick which he had used on-and-off for the past near-ten years) and teamed with former partner turned-enemy turned-partner again Chono. Mutoh played the heel-turn almost to perfection as he struggled with the moral dilemma of joining the ‘bad guys’ and turning on the fans. Mutoh left the faction due to a falling out with Chono, only to return a short time later and team with Chono again to capture the IWGP Tag Team Titles, for Mutoh the fifth time on 91/10/97.
The tandem had to then vacate the titles (on 5/6/98) after Mutoh sustained a serious knee injury. After recovering from the resulting knee surgery, Mutoh and Chono were shipped off to North America and WCW where they showed up an edition of Monday Nitro and defeated Alex Wright and the Disco Inferno in a tag match. Then, on 4/1/99, Mutoh went over IWGP World Heavyweight titleholder Scot Norton to win the title, Mutoh’s third title run. Between 4/1/99 and 10/12/99 Mutoh would defend the title against the likes Don Frye, Scot Norton and Manabu Nakanishi, before finally starring at the ceiling for Genichiro Tenryu (on 10/12/99).
Early-2000 was a quite period for Mutoh, doing battle with his off-again partner Chono, with Chono getting the nod more-often than not. Later that same year, in the summer, Mutoh again showed up in WCW, being teamed with Vampiro and the Innate (Insane) Clown Posse and starting a programme with then WCW Commissioner Ernest Miller. Hardly a great pairing (due to Miller’s inept working ability), their matches were unremarkable at best, and at the New Blood Rising pay-per-view Miller even got the nod to go over Mutoh, after Mutoh’s green-mist gimmick landed on Miller, but Miller made a comeback and pinned Mutoh. Vampiro and Mutoh them teamed together that night (13/8/00), and won the WCW Tag Team Titles.
He and Vampiro held them for 24 hours, before they dropped them to Juvi Guerrera and Ray Mysterio Jr. on Monday Nitro. Mutoh and Vampiro then worked several matches with Sting, although they weren’t to the same standard as they were in the early 1990’s. Vampiro and Mutoh then feuded, leading to some so-so matches. After pishing around in WCW for months, Mutoh returned to NJPW, and on 6/8/01, Mutoh won the AJPW Triple Crown for the first time. In 2003, Mutoh was at the helm of the booking for the Wrestle-1 shows, with the first being semi-successful, and the second being a semi-commercial success, but critically and artistically being terrible.
Whilst he still holds his position in the office he has wisely decided against any further Wrestle-1 Shows and instead is concentrating on running All Japan as a steady promotion with long time hero Kawada as the wrestling focal point. He also helped bring in old friend Hashimoto’s Zero-1 crew who fought with AJPW in a brief and entertaining war
As much as he stepped aside he did however win the Tag Titles with Arashi in June 2003 and also the Champions Carnival in April 2004 defeating Kensuke Sasaki with a trademark Moonsault, showing that he’s still not going to let Kojima and Kawada and even Kea have all the glory just yet, then again old habits die hard.
Since then he has tried (and failed) to capture two more Carnivals failing in the group stages in 2005 after a shock loss to up and coming Suwama and again this year in a tough group that included Sasaki, Yoshie, Suwama, eventual winner Kea and Bull Buchanan. He also failed to take the Triple Crown for the third time when he faced off against reigning champ Kojima in former IWGP and 3 Crown double champ’s second defence.
Still on top as president of the company Muto is now keen to establish the younger generation as both wrestlers and entertainers lead by the suplex dealing monster Suwama as well as reforming the former King’s Road into his own vision inspired by his dealings with American wrestling in the past. Whatever happens the former three musketeer is still one of Puroresu’s most enduring leaders and legends.
(Last updated by Robert Heard on May 1st 2006)