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The Great Muta: So Long and Thanks for All the Mist

The Great Muta is retiring. During this past weekend’s Cyber Festival show—a NOAH, DDT, and Tokyo Joshi Pro-run event—The Great Muta—aka Keiji Mutoh—entered the ring to announce to the wrestling world that he has five matches left in him and that next spring he plans to hang up his boots for good. Having returned from hip surgery in May, it seems that The Great Muta has decided that time waits for no man and that the age of 59 is as good as any to finally call it a day.

Personally, I love The Great Muta. Ever since I first saw him make his way to the ring via a bootleg copy of some old WCW show back in the 90s and finding myself wondering “Who the f*ck is this guy?”, I’ve been a convert to the cause. Everything about him and his character just reached out through the TV screen, grabbed me by the throat and shook the s*it out of me, so the news of his impending retirement fills me with both sadness at the fact that we are losing one of the greatest wrestlers to ever step through the ropes, but also of joy as it seems that he’s getting out of the sport while he still can and on his own terms.

His legacy is secure so he has nothing left to prove. He has been such an influence on the business that his name will always be held up as a standard for anyone who wants to take the path of pro wrestling. If you want to know how to be a wrestler, go watch The Great Muta in action. Everything he does/did is a standard-bearer for the industry. He created a character that was so different and so unique that you couldn’t help but be drawn into this crazy world he created around him. He proved that to stand out, you really have to stand out and everything about The Great Muta has done just that over his nearly 40-year career.

His image has been one of almost demonic power, with the facepaint and his movements in and out of the ring combining to give off an almost supernatural presence, but even though this would’ve been the original selling point for anyone being exposed to The Great Muta, it wouldn’t have meant anything if he couldn’t back it up in the ring. And boy, could he do just that.

He has been credited with inventing and/or popularising moves such as the Shining Wizard, the Moonsault, the Muta Lock and the Dragon Screw Leg Whip, and that’s just to name four. He has also travelled the world over and over to put on five-star matches with the likes of Sting, Ric Flair, and Ricky Steamboat. He’s won more titles than The Yankees, had an entire scale—The Muta Scale—named after him to judge just how bloody a match is, he’s run his own company—Wrestle-1—and at the age of 58 won the Pro Wrestling Noah GHC Heavyweight Championship.

At the age of 58! I’m a few months off of 50 myself and I can barely walk upstairs without pulling a muscle.

The announcement of The Great Muta’s retirement is, as I’ve already stated, a sad day, not just for fans of Japanese Wrestling but for all wrestling fanatics as we are losing one of the most unique characters to ever grace the squared circle, as well as one of the sharpest minds, but at least we have five more matches in which to watch him do what he does best. And I can guarantee you, if you have even the slightest interest in the grappling arts then you’re not going to want to miss a single second of any of them.

The Great Muta will go out on his shield as all the old-school wrestlers do, but he will go out in a cloud of mist bigger than anything he’s ever unleashed in a ring before.

Written by Neil Gray

The Grandmaster of Asian Cinema.

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