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The notoriety of Keiji Mutoh

Just about every die hard wrestling fan knows who Keiji Mutoh is, and for those who don't know of his many five star wrestling matches or his bloody as hell match with Hiroshi Hase, they probably know him better as The Great Muta. Characters and personas aren't too common in traditional Japanese wrestling, when Mutoh came to the US in the late 80s to wrestle for NWA, he obviously knew he needed some kindof gimmick, influenced by Japanese wrestler The Great Kabuki who had been popular in the US in the 70s and early 80s, he came up with the "Great Muta" gimmick. Naturally promoters here in the US built on the similarity between the two and said they were related, from then on Mutoh became famous in the 80s territory wrestling scene for not only his antics of being a very mysterious Japanese wrestler who would spit green mist in the face of his opponents, but also for his wrestling ability.

Though Mutoh was already on his way to becoming a star in Japan as himself, sans-Muta gimmick, he did take it to Japan where it's treated as two diffierent wrestlers. It would later go onto influencing wrestlers like Atsuhi Onita, who would take up a character called "The Great Nita" aswell as Japan's most famous Jr Heavyweight, Jushin Liger also took up a Great Muta inspired gimmick for a bit, trading his mask for face paint and being called "Kishin Liger". Most recently influencing wrestlers like ex-ECW/WWE wrestler Tajiri who took up alot of Great Muta's mannerisms from his signature walk and green mist, to his Moonsault. Another recent wrestler to take up a Great Muta inspired gimmick is TNA's Kiyoshi, using Muta's old 80s-90s attire aswell as originally being from the AJPW promotion that is now owned by Mutoh and Giant Baba's widow. Keiji Mutoh's wrestling style and mannerisms in general have been borrowed by wrestlers such as CM Punk, Arik Cannon, D'Lo Brown, Hurricane Helms and countless Japanese wrestlers.

The Great Muta has also influenced video game characters in games such as Blazing Tornado, 3 Count Bout and most recently King in TEKKEN, who is also influenced by another Japanese wrestler, Tiger Mask, but also shares alot of Mutoh's move set, from his hurricanrana to his moonsault and even to his elbow drop and pose. With all that being said, it's evident Mutoh has had a big impact on wrestling and even in Japanese pop culture in general.

The "Muto Bear" figure:
I'm not into toys or figures at all, but this looks like it could make a nice collector's item, or a nice paperweight. Made by All Japan Pro Wrestling and Play Set Products, how ironic that the most hard hitting and brutal wrestling promotion of Japan in the 90s is now making a product with a company that specializes in cute children's toys. There's two versions of this, though, there's the bigger 7" inch vinyl one doing the "Love Pose", as Mutoh calls it and then there's a smaller 3.25" inch one from the "3age" series. If I keep looking at them, I have a feeling I'll be tempted to buy them only to be met with buyer's remorse.

Mutoh fashion:
Even Japanese street fashion entrepreneur Nigo is a fan of Keiji Mutoh, having made an exclusive Bathing Ape AKA BAPE T-shirt featuring himself, Mutoh and a monkey named Milo doing the Love Pose. Aswell as even hosting a wrestling supercard event called "BAPE STA PRO WRESTLING 2008". BAPE isn't the only clothing line interested in Mutoh, apparently Hello Kitty is aswell, having produced a few exclusive shirts for All Japan Pro Wrestling.

Though I think the title for Japan's Hulk Hogan still belongs to Antonio Inoki, I do see Keiji Mutoh in the ranks. I won't be surprised to see other products made with him on it or based on him, really all that I care about is that he continues having quality wrestling matches.

Match for this post:
Keiji Mutoh VS Masahiro Chono (NJPW - G1 Climax Tournament 1991)

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About KilledBySmarksone of us since 6:15 PM on 08.19.2008

411Mania - Wrestling
Angry Marks
DDT Digest
Figure 4 Online
Fire Pro Club
Strong Style Symphony
Wrestling Gone Wrong

You know it's all fake, right?
- Well, fake in the sense that these wrestlers really don't hate eachother? Or that these storylines really aren't real? Well, obviously. Though, it's not fake in the sense that the maneuvers are painless. Plenty of dive, drops and chops are full contact. Though the art of wrestling has always been a mix of combat and entertainment. In short, you're not actually trying to hurt your "opponent".

How did you get interested in wrestling?
- Wrestling was something a handful of kids I knew watched, but it hadn't gotten big yet until the late '90s. My interest in all the personalities that would hit the ring in the WWE (or then, WWF) had been growing since I can remember. By the time "The Monday Night War" was going on, I was still young, not even a pre-teen, but I was a big fan. I didn't get "smarky" until I hit 14 or so. Back then I ofcourse had alot more passion towards wrestling, maybe because I was young and so interested or because it took a bit more work to find out about things that were going on backstage or in Japan.

Who is your favorite wrestler?
- I don't have one, really. It'd be easier to ask me who would be my favorite in a certain promotion, but that's more than likely to change within a few weeks.

Do you like MMA at all?
- I do. Though I am a bit annoyed with "Cage Fighting" fans and generally badly booked UFC cards. No more than I am disgusted with alot of casual wrestling fans, though. I do however, follow promotions such as AFFLICITION, Pancrase and DREAM. Aswell as try to catch Ultimate Fighter whenever it's on.

Do you like any non-wrestling video games?
- None that I've been too into. I do remember enjoying some MGS titles and a handful of fighting games. I can't say I've ever been interested in Halo or Final Fantasy, though.

So, are you a gamer?
- Compared to most who frequent Dtoid, no. Nor do I really consider myself a "gamer". I've never sat outside of a Game Stop hours before it's opening to get ahold of a new game, I'm not a loyalist to any console nor have I ever been worried of the direction a company of video game producers are taking. I have however waited countless hours on the phone for tickets to a wrestling event, given my money to wrestling promotions through buying merch and have been worried of the direction a promotion was taking. The go-between me and a gamer was ofcourse, playing wrestling games. Much like most gamers have been playing video games from a young age and spent countless hours on a certain game, I too have, aswell, just under the wrestling games genres.

Do you ever read any other Dtoid blogs? (Ones that don't pertain to wrestling)
- Yes, I usually just like interesting and just very well written write ups.

What's your favorite wrestling game?
- The ones that I've put hours upon hours into are: WWF Super WrestleMania, WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game, WCW vs NWO: Revenge and Fire Pro Returns.

What happened to all those older blog post you made?
- When I fist came to Dtoid, I posted a few blogs mainly reviews on some arcade wrestling games and I remember a New Japan Pro Wrestling game for WonderSwan. Along with reviews on episodes of TNA Impact! and WWE RAW. Long story short, I ended up removing all them after not updating the blog for a while.