2023 will see the end to one of the most legendary wrestling careers of all time. Japanese legend The Great Muta (Keiji Mutoh) has wowed fans for nearly forty years all across the globe, brining his unique brand of wrestling to all four corners of the earth and impressing in every single one.
He started wrestling in 1984 in New Japan Pro Wrestling and soon became a fixture of the company. It would be his excursion to the United States that would give him his first taste of stardom however, as he featured in huge main event matches for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA).
Bouts against huge stars of the day, like Ric Flair, Sting and Lex Luger, made him a force to be reckoned with. It would be here where he would first be named as The Great Muta, the gimmick that would help him reach heights that 99% of wrestlers could only dream of.
He would return to Japan after his stint in the US, switching freely between Muta and his real name, Keiji Mutoh. Here he would become one of the best of all time, winning four IWGP Heavyweight Championships and becoming a top star in one of the toughest promotions in the world (NJPW). Even into his late 50s he continued to win championship gold, becoming the GHC Champion at the age of 58, highlighting his incredible longevity.
Sadly for all, it has been announced that 2023 will end the long and storied career of Keiji Mutoh. He will wrestle one last match as The Great Muta alongside Sting and Darby Allin on January 22nd, before one final match as Keiji Mutoh at a later date.
However, despite all the fanfare surrounding his retirement, one question goes begging – why isn’t The Great Muta in the WWE Hall of Fame?
Why Isn’t The Great Muta In The WWE Hall of Fame?
The Great Muta likely isn’t in the WWE Hall of Fame because he has yet to retire. The WWE have always preferred to wait until wrestlers had retired until honouring them at their yearly ceremony, adding it as a happy footnote to end their incredible careers.
There have been a few exceptions. Ric Flair was famously inducted in 2008, the night before his final match in WWE at Wrestlemania 24. Goldberg wrestled for a few years after his induction and has not formally announced his retirement from the ring. Hulk Hogan wrestled later that year, when he was let in in 2005. Others stars like Edge and Sting have retired, inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and then come out of retirement again, although that is not quite the same thing.
Due to his WCW past, it is likely The Great Muta earned his WWE Hall of Fame ring just for his work in the US. He is a former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion and had some incredible matches in WCW, most notably against and alongside Sting. However, his time in Japan cannot be looked over, as his canon of work in New Japan and other promotions ranks him up there with the all-time greats.
Some stars earned inductions only due to their work outside the WWE. Japanese stars Antonio Inoki, Jushin Liger and Tatsumi Fujinami were let in due to their incredible achievements in the world of wrestling, not just in the US. There is no reason why Muta will not earn that same honour once he hangs up his boots once and for all.
It is likely The Great Muta will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in either 2023 or 2024, as the lists of stars going into the hallowed hall seems to be growing thinner and thinner as the years go by, leading to some less-deserving stars like Queen Sharmell being allowed in recent years.