Puroresu Love: The Positives of the GHC Heavyweight Championship Reign of Keiji Mutoh

Keiji Mutoh GHC Heavyweight Championship
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There are a lot of thoughts on Pro Wrestling NOAH putting the GHC Heavyweight Championship on 58-Year-Old Keiji Mutoh. There are some negatives, such as his performance in the ring. One must remember he is 58, and apart from his first defense, none of his matches have been relatively bad. Although, his first defense can only be considered bad due to its long length. Another negative is how, in the eyes of many, he is taking opportunities from other NOAH stars. Let’s take a look at all these issues and touch on the positives that aren’t highlighted.

Keiji Mutoh is Bringing More Eyes to NOAH

Pro Wrestling NOAH recently made their return to Nippon Budokan with Keiji Mutoh in the main event. This was not all due to him, of course; this return was a collective effort from the NOAH roster. However, as stated, he was in the main event and they drew 4,196 people into the venue. This outdrew New Japan Pro Wrestling’s 46th Anniversary show. This wasn’t by a small margin, either, as they outdrew them by well over a thousand. With New Japan only drawing 3,026 people into the venue, NOAH’s attendance is huge. Globally, NJPW is probably the biggest promotion in Japan. However, NOAH outdrew them with Mutoh in their main event.

The New Japan card wasn’t one that lacked either, as the main event was the last defense of the IWGP heavyweight and intercontinental championships. With the attendance, and the big crowd reaction when Mutoh won, it’s clear that Mutoh is still a draw. Fans still want to see him, and due to his legend status, many know his name. They want to check out NOAH, remembering his past years fondly. Alternatively, they may simply remember his work in the states back in the late ’80s and ’90s. No matter the case, he is bringing eyes from all over the world to NOAH.

Everyone He Encounters Gets a Rub

Another thing Keiji Mutoh has done well since coming to NOAH is give people a good rub. Inadvertently, he has given fans reason to cheer for his opposition more due to the fact many want him to lose. Good examples would be his feud with Shuhei Taniguchi toward the end of last year. Taniguchi was just another guy on the roster last year apart from his defeat over Katsuhiko Nakajima in the N-1 victory, and blooming alliance with Kaito Kiyomiya and Daiki Inaba. Yet, he set his sights on Mutoh and the fans rallied behind him to get this big win. After all, defeating Keiji Mutoh elevates someone. Mutoh’s first clash with Kiyomiya, with his obsession of wanting to face the legend, added another layer to his character. Kiyomiya felt as though he had to beat Mutoh.

A more recent example is his next challenger for the GHC Heavyweight Championship, Masa Kitamiya. Last year, despite being a good wrestler, Kitamiya wasn’t someone people wanted as GHC heavyweight champion, nor was he in the picture. Now, off the tails of a breakout performance, he made a challenge for the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Additionally, he laid out Keiji Mutoh, making him a more legit threat. After their confrontation, Kitamiya felt like a star who belonged in that spotlight. While it’s inadvertent, many would like to see Kitamiya beat Mutoh for the championship, which would have been unheard of a year ago. Every person that Mutoh faces in a program feels more special than they did before.

Most Importantly: Keiji Mutoh Cares

The most important positive is Keiji Mutoh cares about puroresu and has shown that his whole career. The long Kaito Kiyomiya defense previously mentioned deserves a little nod. This 58-year-old legend knows most fans are accustomed to long championship main events, so he tried to match that. Mutoh signed with NOAH because he believes in the company. He wants to help them as they continue to reach fans globally. He seems nothing but grateful for this opportunity he has received at this stage in his career.

Take into account that whoever eventually dethrones him, and whoever beats him along the way, will benefit. Defeating Mutoh, as stated earlier, is still a big deal. In the meantime, he is going to continue to bring more eyes to NOAH with his name value alone. Moreso, he will bring more glory to the GHC Heavyweight Championship.

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