wrestling / Video Reviews

Shinsuke Nakamura’s 2013 IWGP Intercontinental Championship Reign Review

April 26, 2019 | Posted by TJ Hawke
Shinsuka Nakamura 2013

You really do not appreciate things until you do not have them anymore.

I reviewed almost every big show for NJPW in 2013 for 411mania, and that was basically my first real dive into NJPW. My opinion on Shinsuke Nakamura was that he was pretty overrated as he did not produce the consistently high-end stuff that Okada and Tanahashi (lmao @ me) were producing month after month. Nakamura always had the main event, and his IC matches always paled in comparison though.

Much like how Jeff Winger felt about Abed after a single episode, I see their value now. In fact, I recently went back and watched all of Nakamura’s IC title matches from 2013 and discovered that it was one of the most interesting title runs to happen in the past five years at the very least. It was a great blend of opponents in that there were some special and random one-time defenses and then there were rivalries that used multiple matches to tell more satisfying stories.

There has not been a title reign since this that I have enjoyed nearly as much, and it was almost certainly the best year of Nakamura’s career. You should check them all out in order if possible.


January 4, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

20130104029_crop_northTokyo, Japan
January 4, 2013

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This remains a pretty cool match and one of the three genuinely good singles matches from Sakuraba since his NJPW run started. The match mostly was made up of them building tension until there was an explosion of action in the final few minutes. That is a style of match that can get very old very quickly due to laziness, but these two executed it well. Basically, they made you feel like it was worth it to sit through the slow burn to get to the blow-up at the end. Nakamura won after a couple of Boma Ye. (***¾)


January 19, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. La Sombra

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

While their later matches in the year are rightfully regarded as fun and successful, their first match together here felt like a less confident version of those matches. Naturally, they probably needed to grow comfortable working together, and this match played out as both of them getting their shit in and getting used to working someone new. That does not mean the match was bad by any stretch. It was in fact a very solid and fun match and an accurate portent of the goodness that these two would be able to produce later on. [Nakamura won cleanly via Boma Ye.] (***)


February 10, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kengo Mashimo

You can watch this match here.

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Mashimo is exact kind of talent that should be challenging for championships in NJPW, and this is the exact kind of defense more IC, US, and NEVER champs should be having in the company. A random outside challenger doing a fresh and relatively meaningless match can be a nice change of pace in a title reign to keep things fresh and to keep fans guessing. Nothing was too serious and no epic was forced. It was just simple and fun wrestling that got in and out before it overstayed its welcome. [Nakamura won after a pair of Boma Ye.] (***1/4)


March 3, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Lance Archer

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This was pretty much the epitome of #VeryOk. The match itself was basic for the most part. Archer is big. Nakamura does knee strikes and occasionally has a cocaine panic attack. It was not particularly exciting both in how it was worked and based on how the crowd responded (or didn’t respond more accurately) to it.

Then there was a ref bump which led to Suzuki-gun interfering. In the context of a cold title defense, that all felt really cheap and unearned. Anyway, it led to Archer having some momentum, but Nakamura managed to escape by pulling off a Boma Ye just after avoiding a chokeslam and then getting the fuck out of there. (**1/4)


April 13, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.

You can watch this match here.

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Harry Boy Smith earned this title shot after defeating Nakamura in the 2013 New Japan Cup.

This was another strong match between the two. Harry Boy had the size and strength advantage. Nakamura would have to work around that. As Nakamura began to get some momentum, Harry Boy managed to give him a belly-to-belly from the ring to the floor (it was great).

From there, the match followed a familiar path. Harry was in control. Nakamura fought back until he had most of the momentum. Harry cut him off though and nearly put him away. (In particular, it seemed like Harry had him down for good after a lariat/Liger Bomb combo.) Nakamura hung on and then eventually finished him with a couple of Boma Ye. This got very hot during the final stretch. (***3/4)


May 3, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Shelton Benjamin

You can watch this match here.

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Shelton’s biggest match in NJPW to date was going along just fine until it fell apart in the final minute. First, Nakamura botched a springboard Boma Ye. That in it of itself was not the worst thing, but then the rest of the match look awkward and off as well.

Before that though everything was going swimmingly. Nakamura’s Boma Ye attempt on the floor cost him dearly as he crashed into a guardrail. Shelton went after the now-injured knee. He hit a gnarly calf-breaker on it that seemed like it could be the end of Naka’s chances here.

Naka fought back though of course, and that’s when our bad ending kicked in. You could argue the botched springboard worked in the story. The rest of the awkwardness ended the match on too bad of a note to ignore though. (**3/4)


May 31, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. La Sombra

You can watch this match here.

This was a 2/3 falls match for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

The first two falls went very much how you would expect it to go. Nakamura took the first fall with an avalanche landslide. Sombra came roaring back and picked up la segunda caida with a strait jacket German.

The second half of the match then featured the two going for the win more and more. The biggest surprise of the contest was that Nakamura actually went for (and connected on) a dive. It was a good marker to appreciate how seriously Nakamura was taking this Arena Mexico battle.

Anyway, both dudes went for and connected on a bunch of big stuff. Eventually, Sombra reversed a Boma Ye attempt into a one-armed folding powerbomb to pick up the victory and the belt. Very fun match! (***1/2)


July 20, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. La Sombra


This was for Sombra’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This was a really fun match! They did not tell some elaborate story or anything of that nature. They just worked a solid pace, packed in a good amount of action, and generally kept everyone invested in the match. This match was a real strong reminder of the value in having Nakamura work the semi-main event spot on the 2013 NJPW shows. It was a positioned that he did very well. Nakamura won cleanly via Boma Ye. (***1/2)


September 29, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Shelton Benjamin

This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This was a great follow-up to Shelton’s win over Nakamura in the G1. Shelton jumped out to an early advantage in that one by attacking Nakamura during his introduction. He tried it again here, but Nakamura was ready for it.

That set the whole tone for the match. These were familiar opponents who were going to be doing whatever it took to win. It progressively got more and more exciting and tense as both guys were putting in a great effort.

Shelton tried to catch Nakamura with the Paydirt out of nowhere again, but Nakamura was ready for it this time. SUCH GOOD AND SMART WRESTLING YAY NJPW! Nakamura won cleanly. (***3/4)


October 14, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Naomichi Marufuji


King of Pro Wrestling
October 14, 2013

This match was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Originally reviewed here.

I remember loving this one at the time. They did a big spot early on, as Fuji gave Naka a piledriver on the apron. The biggest story of the match became Fuji targeting Nakamura’s neck. I liked Fuji working on a top a lot more than when he works underneath. Fuji kept cutting off Naka’s comebacks until Naka hit a diving Boma Ye. That kicked off a sequence full of finishers, strike exchanges, and reversals. It was awesome. Nakamura finished him after a couple of Boma Ye to successful retain the title.

Nakamura was so on point here and only step or two below his best self. He and Marufuji came up with a number of creative sequences to make this match seem more important than a typical Nakamura title defense. The only thing that this match needed was some kind of payoff to Nakamura’s neck getting worked over. Other than that, this was great. (****)


November 9, 2013

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Minoru Suzuki


This was for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

This was a solid battle for sure. It featured two larger than life personalities, and they made sure to work an intense and physical battle.

It just was worked at far too much of a methodical pace, and the leg work that was the focus of the match did not really feel all that significant.

They did find a clever workaround to Nakamura having to sell the leg during a big comeback though. They just didn’t have a comeback!

Suzuki dominated the match, and then Nakamura hit two sudden Boma Ye to win! It was especially neat to have MiSu try to catch the second Boma Ye as he had successfully done earlier in the match. Only to fail. (***)

article topics :

NJPW, Shinsuke Nakamura, TJ Hawke