Shinsuke Nakamura has been one of the top stars in the WWE since making his NXT debut in 2016. His battles with Samoa Joe and AJ Styles have thrilled fans and his debut match against Sami Zayn is regarded as one of the best in NXT’s history.
Even before becoming one of WWE’s biggest stars, Nakamura was already one of the most popular professional wrestlers in the world. He elevated the IWGP Intercontinental Title to main event status and had titanic clashes with Kota Ibushi and Tetsuya Naito. “Swagsuke” was also a multimedia star in his native Japan, appearing in music videos and publishing an autobiography. Is King of Strong Style: 1980-2014 worth a read or is it just another generic wrestling biography?
King of Strong Style does not take long to differentiate itself from other wrestlers’ books. Instead of the traditional narrative style, the book is a transcript of an interview conducted by Yu Suzuki. This is a great idea as wrestlers’ autobiographies tend to be poorly written and alternate between being over the top or boring. Even the biggest fans can have trouble reading their favorite grappler’s autobiography.Another big issue with wrestling books is the actual content. Quite frankly, these books tend to become tiring. It is almost as if the wrestlers have problems writing about their careers without heavy heapings of exaggeration. Readers will get the occasional classic like the Bret Hart turkey story, but these are the exception.
King of Strong Style is straightforward and does not fall into the trap of redundant road stories. The interviewer does a good job of staying away from the same questions heard all the time (so nothing about Batista) and Nakamura never repeats answers. The follow up questions are also excellent. Suzuiki obviously had a line of questions ready, but is also skilled enough to adapt his inquiries to his subject’s responses. The interview never becomes tedious and reads more like a conversation between two people than a simple Q&A.
The man who fans were calling “Super Rookie” soon after his debut has had a very interesting career. From participating in MMA fights to having main event matches against Brock Lesnar at the biggest event of the year, Nakamura discusses every part of his eventful career. His natural charisma really shines through in the interview. Many times a wrestler comes off as surly or even downright combative when answering questions. Nakamura, on the other hand, comes off as very cordial and laughs throughout the book. He also never avoids answering anything (another staple of wrestlers), making the book less frustrating than others in the genre.
The brevity of Nakamura’s answers may be a disappointment to some. While he is very open in answering, he is also to the point. Suzuki is sometimes able to ask more questions that shed some more light, but Nakamura is content to answer things directly without providing too much backstory. A great example is how he was roommates with Daniel Bryan. It is common knowledge among online fans, but to hear about the living conditions from Nakamura would have been nice. The book only provides two brief paragraphs that give no detail, however. It does not make or break the book, but it is noticeable.
King of Strong Style 1980-2014 is an in-depth look into one of the most unique and charismatic figures in professional wrestling. Whether you’re a long time fan or were just recently introduced to Shinsuke Nakamura, his autobiography is an interesting read.
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