Individuality is in the eye of the beholder. It’s easy to look at an individual and immediately have the assumption that you can read a person aside from knowing only a few things about them. Getting the opportunity to know someone, understand their struggles, hear their side of things, it’s what makes the human experience so fascinating and interesting. One individual that I’ve been hoping to hear more about for a while is now-WWE Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura purely from the fact that he is an extremely polarizing and mysterious figure inside the world of sports entertainment.
Luckily for me, as well as fans of Shinsuke Nakamura, Viz Media has released a biography on the ‘King Of Strong Style’ that offers, not only a very insightful look at his life, but also offering one of the best wrestling related biographies that I have read in quite some time.
From his roots as an ambitious kid watching late night wrestling with his grandmother, Shinsuke had a dream of becoming a professional wrestler. Starting off from an amateur wrestling backround, Shinsuke Nakamura clawed his way through try outs, strict training, harsh traveling, loss, criticism, and injuries but somehow found a way to keep himself together and in doing so created the iconic personality he is known for today.
The book is not the typical biography, the books format is more or less like a sit down interview going through some of the pivotal moments from the life of Shinsuke Nakamura with it being a question and answer type of read. I know that the format may turn off some fans that are more accustomed to a more traditional biographical book but I feel it offers a more unique approach to someone who is known himself to be one of the most unique in the business. One thing that troubled me at times was how some answers seemed like they were cut into portions, being made into answers for other questions relating to the topic rather than continuing as a single response.
The book itself has incredible pacing, never having a dull moment where I felt that I needed to flip through chapters or put the book down for a much deserved breather. In this books case, It was quite hard to put down. The way in which Shinsuke answered questions so nonchalant really added to how raw and personal his story was on paper and really got me even more interested about some of the situations he had found himself in. At one point in the book he mentions how he had competed in an MMA match right before his re debut at the legendary Tokyo Dome for NJPW. The man they called “The Super Rookie” was so inclined to make his own mark while also absorbing every resource given to him, it’s quite hard to express how interesting it is to get a chance to understand the mindset of an individual in this sort of position, it feels as though I’m riding shotgun through these memories.
The book offers a few galleries showing some of the defining memories and moments from his life including rare photos from classic matches as well as some sections in which there would be context following some images.
After reading this book, I had to go and rewatch some of Shinsukes matches with a new understanding and they do offer some interesting commentary on some of his biggest bouts with Ignashov, Brock Lesnar, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and others. King Of Strong Style: 1980-2014 offers a rare look inside the mind of the small Kyoto boy who would later become the prodigal son of Japanese wresting, mixing his experience in amateur wrestling, professional wrestling, and mma to become the youngest IWGP champion of all time and establishing a worldwide audience on weekly television as the current WWE United States Champion. The books pacing and format makes for a very easy read full of insightful banter from the man himself as well as very real, thought provoking, moments that leave you wondering what you would do in that certain situation. In short, this book packs a punch er- kick.