Bull Nakano the Empress of WWE, Unveils Insights of Battling Bullying, Overcoming Injury and Illness, and Reflects on U.S. Tour | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Bull Nakano the Empress of WWE, Unveils Insights of Battling Bullying, Overcoming Injury and Illness, and Reflects on U.S. Tour

WWE Hall of Fame induction commemorative interview! Tears of joy at becoming the fifth Japanese inductee following Antonio Inoki and the first woman to achieve this feat!

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What Bull Nakano is holding is a photo taken in New York when she was the WWF (at that time) champion, which was published in the March 24, 1995 issue of this magazine. Bull is scheduled to travel to the United States in late March to participate in the awards ceremony to be held in Philadelphia on April 6th.

When Bull Nakano (56) was contacted by a representative from the world’s largest professional wrestling organization, WWE USA, to deliver the good news of his induction into the Hall of Fame, her reaction was scared.

“I got scared because I thought, This isn’t an offer for a match, right? (laughs) I did win the WWF (currently WWE) Women’s Championship, but because I was a villain, all I got was boos. And too much time has passed since those days. So when I was asked, `Do you have any intention of winning the award? I burst into tears. It made me realize that I had been recognized as a wrestler, and that all I had done was not in vain.


Despite being a heel (villain), Bull Nakano reigned supreme in Japan and the U.S., not because of her brawling but because of her variety of techniques and ability.

However, despite her brilliant career and being feared as the empress, she faced unimaginable struggles.

I joined All Japan Women’s Pro-Wrestling in 1983 after graduating from junior high school, but at 15 years old, I didn’t know anything about the world or the hierarchy with my seniors. She was beaten by her seniors, saying, “This guy’s not good enough.” Because she was a rookie, she couldn’t do anything in the match, and even in the ring she got beaten up. No joke, she was beaten every day. She got beaten so much that she said, “Today, I made a mistake in the second.” I started to be able to predict things like maybe 5 shots. Then I thought I was lucky that it only took 3 shots (lol).

At the time, Bull Nakano recalled, “My mouth was always cut.”


In joint practice, we had a discipline called 100-butt throws, in which each senior had to take 10 techniques. It was almost like killing them half to death. Looking back on it now, I think it was super black (laughs). I cried every day, and when I went to bed, I prayed that the morning would never come.

When asked by a reporter why she did not run away, Bull Nakano immediately answered, “Because I love pro wrestling.

At the time, the only women’s pro wrestling organization was Zenjo. If I quit, I would not be able to wrestle anymore. So I persevered. In the process, I came to think, ‘I’m going to get stronger and beat the crap out of these guys in the ring.

Two years after her initiation, she joined Dump Matsumoto’s (63) Extreme Evil League. Her rapid ascent to the top began.

I really enjoyed the trip to the United States. At that time, the level of all the girls was the highest in the world. I wasn’t worried at all about the matches, and I knew instantly what kind of audience would be happy to see me. The venue was a lot of fun. The only thing that was difficult was the transportation. In the U.S., air tickets are sent to you in a flash, and you have to get to the venue by yourself. We also had to find a hotel by ourselves, looking in the phone book. We had to be taken by a neighbor, or shared a car with an American wrestler, and every day was a slap in the face (laughs).

However, the cost of fighting with all her might using her 115kg body was high. In 1997, during an American tour, two ligaments in her left knee were torn and she decided to retire. When examined at the hospital, they found a fracture on the top of her foot and a chipped spine.


As she struggled in her second life, including running a restaurant, she also suffered a serious illness. Cirrhosis of the liver.

I went to hospital and was hospitalized for two months.

After leaving the hospital, the indomitable empress, who was trying to make a comeback as a YouTube star, received the good news that she had been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

I’ve won all the belts I want, and I’ve been inducted into the Hall of Fame,” she said. My goal is to beat Bull Nakano under my real name, Keiko Aoki. I still think I was happiest when I was Bull Nakano, and I want to lead a happier life than that.

The empress’ eyes were shining brightly.

A cut not published in this magazine: Empress Bull Nakano reveals Bullying, serious injury, serious illness, and expedition to the United States.

From the March 29, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

  • PHOTO Hiroyuki Komatsu, Yasuhide Kamishige (March 24, 1995 issue of this magazine)

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