Keiji Mutoh, the current President of All Japan Pro Wrestling, is well known globally as The Great Muta. Mutoh was one of the quickest and most exciting wrestlers to ever compete in Professional Wrestling.
After competing in Judo competition, which he would incorporate in his wrestling style, Mutoh made his debut in 1984.
Mutoh had the luxury of learning the ropes by legendary trainer Hiro Matsuda. Matsuda's list of trainees includes Hulk Hogan, Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndoff, Ron Simmons, Lex Luger and the "Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
After a brief run in New Japan Pro Wrestling, as White Ninja, he decided to head to North America for seasoning.
His first stop in North America was with World Class Championship Wrestling as The Super Ninja. Mutoh had a brief feud with Kevin Von Erich and joined Gary Hart's Devastation Inc. before departing to World Wrestling Council (WWC).
In WWC, a well-balanced blend of speed, technical ability, agility and eye pleasing moves quickly won over the lucha libre crowd. Mutoh went on to win the WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Title and WWC Television Title. He also found himself in bloody feuds with Carlos Colon, Abdullah The Butcher and Bruiser Brody which would turnout to be a helpful experience for his future matches.
His next stop on the "North America Tour" was in Florida where he was managed by Sir Oliver Humperdink and teamed with his "father" Great Kabuki to form the Rising Suns . Mutoh also captured the Florida Heavyweight Title, returning to the White Ninja ego, from Kendall Windham.
His recognition and visibility in Florida caught the eye of Jim Crockett who quickly signed him. Mutoh's career was about to take off and The Great Muta was born.
The Great Muta wore face paint and spewed green mist into the air before his matches similar to The Great Kabuki and Kendo Nagasaki. His popular moves were the Moonsault, Figure Four Leg Lock, Crazy Elbow Drop and Dragon Screw Legwhip each move providing excitement and fan appreciation.
Mutoh would make a headlock or armbar look like the most exciting move ever. He just had that intensity and ability to perform great matches.
Mutoh's first and biggest feud in WCW was with Sting. It was the perfect matchup between the two most exciting and young wrestlers heading into the '90s.
After three months of fan pleasing matches, Muta defeated Sting in September of 1989 to win the NWA World Television Title. Their heated feud continued into the next decade mostly in Japan.
After losing the title to Arn Anderson in January of 1990, Muta left North America and returned home to begin his quest as the best wrestler in Japan.
This time Mutoh had approximately four years of wrestling experience from Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and Jim Crockett Promotions. As well as the experience of competing against the best in the business (Flair, Luger, Terry Funk, Sting, Colon, Brody...), which provided him recognition and helped in fine tuning his style.
Mutoh's quickly allied himself with Masa Chono and won the New Japan's IWGP Tag Team Title.
The success that these two fightersa garnered help them to surpass greats like Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, and Riki Choshu as the next generation of stars. The next generation label was cemented when Chono won the NWA World Heavyweight Title and Mutoh won the IWGP Heavyweight Title in 1992.
In 1993, Mutoh became the first wrestler to hold both the NWA and IWGP Heavyweight Titles when he defeated Chono in a title versus title match.
In Japan, Mutoh has won approximately 16 championships ranging over the top singles and tag titles in Japan.
Aside from the long list of championships, Mutoh is infamous for taking part in what is considered the bloodiest match of all time against Hiroshi Hase. Due to the excessive bleeding caused by Mutoh's deep blading, fans created the "Muta Scale " to grade bloody matches ranging from 0.0 Muta to 1.0 Muta.
Mutoh is credited as one of the first Japanese wrestlers to achieve a fan base outside of his native Japan. He often praises the wrestling fans in the United States as helping him to mature.
The Great Muta gimmick remains one of the most influential gimmicks in puroresu, having been emulated by many wrestlers including The Great Koji, The Great Kazushi and The Great Nita.
It's good to know that Mutoh has continued to wrestle as an International Superstar in the new millenium, appearing in ROH cards in England and back in the United States.
Here are some Great Muta links to view: