|Ring name(s)||Mutō Keiji|
Super Black Ninja
|Real name||Mutō Keiji|
|Nickname(s)||Space Lone Wolf (before the Muta days)|
Natural Born Master
|Billed height||188 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Billed weight||103 kg (230 lb; 16.2 st)|
Fuji Yoshida, Yamanashi
Inspired by a television drama, Mutō started practicing jūdō as a second grade in elementary school. He also joined a baseball team when he was in the fifth grade and became the top batter.
He once joined a baseball team in junior high school but immediately jumped to the jūdō team. He received the 1 dan in the ninth grade. He also won the National High School Championship in the tenth grade. Though he was scouted by various colleges, he entered the Tōhoku Jūdō Institute was placed third in the All Japan Junior Jūdō Championships (95kg limit). Around this time, Mutō also was licensed as a jūdō therapist.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling (1984-2002)
Mutō, along with Hashimoto Shin'ya and Chōno Masahiro, joined New Japan as trainees on 1984/4/21. Mutō and Chōno faced each other in their debut match which took place on 1984/10/5 in Koshigaya, Saitama. With his look and athletic skill, he was immediately considered as a future superstar. He was sent to overseas in 1985/11, without winning the Young Lions Cup. On 1986/5/21, he defeated Kendall Windham for NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship although the decision was later reversed.
He returned to Japan in 1986/10 and immediately became one of the main eventers. He won the "Rookie of the Year" at the 1986 Puroresu Awards. Also, Mutō & Koshinaka Shirō won the IWGP Tag Team Championship in 1987/3, before losing the titles six days later. Despite his achievements, it was during the feud between New Japan and the former UWF wrestlers, and the "American style" of Mutō had a difficulty to gain the popularity. Mutō was once again sent to overseas in 1988/1.
This time, Mutō was sent to Puerto Rico, where he won the titles such as WWC Television Championship and Puero Rican Heavyweight Championship. Mutō, along with his dōjō mates Hashimoto and Chōno, formed Tōkon Sanjūshi, and the team returned to Japan in 1988/7 just for one match at Ariake Coliseum on 1988/7/29. Then, he went to the World Class area, where he wrestled as Super Black Ninja.
The biggest change of his career came when he entered the NWA circuit in 1989/3. Billed as a son of The Great Kabuki and managed by Gary Hart, who was also Kabuki's manager in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mutō was given a character of Great Muta, his alter-ego for which he would be popular rest of his career. Muta became the top heel of the promotion and defeated Sting for NWA World Television Championship on 1989/9/3. He would lose the title four months later to Arn Anderson.
He returned to Japan in 1990/3. On 1990/4/27, he teamed with Chōno and won IWGP Tag Team Championship, and in September of the same year, he wrestled as Great Muta for the first time in Japan, against Hase Hiroshi.
Mutō continued to be one of the top stars of New Japan. As Great Muta, he won his first IWGP Heavyweight Championship, defeating Chōshū Riki on 1992/8/16 and NWA World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Chōno on 1993/1/4 at Tokyo Dome.
Many believe his real "break" came in 1995. After losing to Scott Norton in February, he seemed to have gone into a slump and became inactive as a competitor for two months. However, he made a big comeback when he won his second IWGP Heavyweight Championship, defeating Hashimoto, who held the record of title defenses at the time, on 1995/5/3 at Fukuoka Dome. He also defeated Takada Nobuhiko in his title defense on 1995/10/9 at Tokyo Dome in the main event of the "New Japan vs. UWF International" card.
In 1997/2, nWo Japan, lead by Chōno, started scouting Mutō as a new member. After Muta defeated Chōno on 4/12 at Tokyo Dome, he officially became a member at a WCW card in America. He, as Mutō, lost to Hashimoto on June, but after the match, he went back to the nWo dressing room. After wrestling as "nWo Muta", he stopped using the gimmick and started wrestling as Mutō, still being an nWo member, in September.
While Chōno was out of action due to injury in 1998/9, Mutō took over as the nWo leader. Chōno eventually left the group and formed TEAM 2000. In 2000/1/4, Mutō lost to Chōno, and nWo Japan was dissolved.
In 1999, Mutō held IWGP Heavyweight Championship almost for the entire year and won "Wrestler of the Year" of the Puroresu Awards.
Mutō then returned to WCW as Great Muta. Due to the bad booking and the decline of WCW in its last years, however, Mutō could not recapture the previous popularity he had in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He considered joining the World Wrestling Federation, but he had a no-compete clause in his WCW contract.
He returned to Japan in 2000/12, sporting a new look and an altered moveset, which included the Shining Wizard, which debuted on 2001/3/18. He would also start wrestling on All Japan cards and formed an interpromotional stable BATT with a fellow New Japan competitors Ōtani Shinjirō, Don Frye, All Japan wrestlers Hase Hiroshi, Taiyō Kea, and Shinzaki Jinsei, a Michinoku Pro-Wrestling star.
All Japan Pro-Wrestling (2002-present)
Due to New Japan's direction towards mixed martial arts, Mutō thought the experience he gained in America would be wasted in New Japan. In 2002/1, Mutō, along with Kojima Satoshi, Kendō Kashin, and some office staff, left New Japan, and they officially joined All Japan on 2002/2/26. He won Champion Carnival that year and became the only wrestler to win both Champion Carnival and New Japan's G1 Climax. In 2002/10, Mutō was given the stock share by All Japan president Baba Motoko and became the head of the promotion.
On 2004/7/10, Mutō teamed with Kea to face Misawa Mitsuharu & Ogawa Yoshinari on a NOAH card at Tokyo Dome. Mutō teamed with Misawa teamed to face Hase & Sasaki Kensuke on Mutō's 20th anniversary card which took place on 10/31.
Titles and Tournaments
- NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (6 times)
- Puerto Rican Heavyweight Championship
- WWC Television Championship
- NWA World Television Championship
- The Greatest 18 Club Championship
- IWGP Heavyweight Championship (4 times)
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship
- WCW World Tag Team Championship
- Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- World Tag Team Championship (All Japan) (3 times)
- F-1 Tag Team Championship
Tournaments and Leagues
- G1 Climax
- G1 Tag League / SG Tag League (5 times)
- Champion Carnival (3 times)
- Real World Tag Team League (3 times)
- Rookie of the Year (1986)
- Special Achievement Award (1989)
- Tag Team of the Year (1990, with Chōno Masahiro)
- Wrestler of the Year (1995)
- Performance Award (1998)
- Wrestler of the Year (1999)
- Match of the Year (1999/5/3 vs Tenryū Gen'ichirō)
- Wrestler of the Year (2001)
- Tag Team of the Year (2005, with Akebono)
- Wrestler of the Year (2008)