The 2018 Royal Rumble event was full of incredible surprises and made history in a number of ways, including the fact that both Rumble debutants Asuka and Shinsuke Nakamura won their respective matches and have now officially booked themselves on the WrestleMania card in April.
Both Japanese stars are former Champions in NXT and were among the favourites for their respective Royal Rumble matches heading into the event. Asuka is still undefeated in NXT and on the main roster having been called up from NXT last year, while Nakamura hasn't had the best few months on the SmackDown brand. It is hoped that this win will kickstart a huge push for the former NJPW star.
Nakamura has already chosen AJ Styles as his opponent at WrestleMania, while Asuka was interrupted by the debuting Ronda Rousey, so she was unable to declare who she was going to challenge. The Women's Elimination Chamber match next month will determine who the Raw Champion will be heading into WrestleMania and it is speculated that The Undefeated Empress of Tomorrow will go on to face that Champion at The Showcase of the Immortals.
Even though these two stars have been seen on NXT and WWE TV over the past few years, many fans are unaware of some incredible facts about these former Champions. They are very much the silent types, so it can be hard for them to give much information about their past. The following list looks at the most interesting facts about this year's Royal Rumble winners.
20 Nakamura Once Lived And Trained With Daniel Bryan
Nakamura hasn't always lived in Japan and been part of the Japanese wrestling scene. In the early 2000s, the former Champion and the current SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan were roommates. The duo lived together in Santa Monica, California for a number of months while they trained at the Inoki Dojo, which is a facility that was created by WWE Hall of Famer Antonio Inoki and affiliated with New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The duo were only roommates for a short time, but were obviously happy to work with one another once again when Nakamura was promoted to SmackDown Live last year. As of yet, Bryan hasn't given Nakamura any special treatment, but it will be interesting to see if WWE ever include their link in a storyline.
19 Asuka Retired From Wrestling Back In 2006
Asuka originally studied to be a graphic designer but had her head turned by a career in professional wrestling after she graduated from Osaka University of Arts Junior College. Sadly, Asuka almost never made it as far as WWE since she was forced to retire from wrestling back in 2006 when it was revealed that she was suffering from chronic nephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidneys.
The former NXT Champion went on to open her own graphic design agency, but then decided to return to the business 18 months later and has never fully explained her reasons behind this. She has found a way to manage her career around her illness and has recently become one of the best-known female wrestlers in the world.
18 Nakamura Has Already Faced Brock Lesnar
When Shinsuke Nakamura was given the choice between AJ Styles or Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania following his Royal Rumble victory on Sunday night, he chose his old New Japan Pro Wrestling rival AJ Styles. Very few members of the WWE Universe are aware that Nakamura also has history with current Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.
Nakamura faced The Beast for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship back in 2006 and even though he lost the match, Nakamura definitely remembers who Brock is. Nakamura even planned to train and travel with Lesnar at one point, leaving Japan behind for a while. Maybe this played more of a role in the decision than the WWE Universe is aware, after all, who would choose to face Brock Lesnar for the second time if they had already lost to The Beast once?
17 Asuka Is Currently Single
Asuka has dedicated so much of her life to her work and then pursuing a career in professional wrestling that The Empress of Tomorrow has never taken the time to have a private life of her own.
Asuka is 36-years-old and is still reportedly single, she has never been part of any relationships with fellow wrestlers or scandals in the WWE locker room. She is someone who is focused on becoming the best in her chosen field so she doesn't have the time for any other commitments. Asuka has become a real role model to the younger generation over the past few years and she likes to be in this position and wouldn't want to do anything to change her fans' opinion of her. She is the second oldest wrestler in the WWE locker room currently, behind Mickie James.
16 Nakamura Was A Collegiate Wrestler
Nakamura has definitely climbed his way up the ranks in the wrestling world over the past few years, but it seems that Nakamura's love of the sport started during his college days, when he was a collegiate wrestler at the Aoyama Gakuin University in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan. Nakamura became the captain of his wrestling team and won a number of Championships while he was part of this team.
It wasn't just wrestling that Nakamura will remember his days at college for, it was during his time at Aoyama Gakuin that Nakamura first met his future wife Harumi Maekawa and it is believed that the couple began dating almost two decades ago. Even though the couple didn't marry until 2007, it is thought that they began dating around 1999.
15 Asuka Is A Huge Fan Of Rock Music
Asuka has always been seen as someone who stands out in the WWE locker room, this goes all the way down to her taste in music since the Royal Rumble winner is a huge fan of some alternative music that many of the WWE roster don't understand, but this is just another thing that proves just how cool Asuka really is.
Asuka has already professed her love for bands such as Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi as she is a huge fan of old school rock and American stadium rock. There are a number of WWE stars who have different tastes in music and often use their social media accounts to promote their love of certain Indy bands, Seth Rollins is the best-known star that does this.
14 Nakamura Made His Wrestling Debut Back in 2002
It's quite well-known that Nakamura was a stand out star for New Japan Pro Wrestling, but this is also the company where Nakamura first got his foot in the door when it comes to the wrestling business since this was where he made his official wrestling debut back in 2002.
Just over a year after his debut, Nakamura won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in December 2003 and became the youngest person to hold the title at just 23-years-old. He was a star in the company within months and was somehow managing to juggle an MMA career alongside his wrestling career with NJPW at this point as well. Nakamura has a wealth of knowledge and experience from the past 16 years that WWE could really do with cashing in on.
13 Asuka Is Good Friends With Ember Moon
Asuka was undefeated throughout her time as NXT Women's Champion and it seems that the one woman that many of the WWE Universe thought would dethrone the Undefeated Empress, was Ember Moon.
The duo had a number of memorable matches for that Championship before Asuka vacated the title and headed to the main roster. Ember Moon then won the tournament to crown a new Champion a few months ago as part of Survivor Series weekend and despite their rivalry in the months before, Asuka was there to hand the title over to the new Champion in person. Both women gained a lot of respect for each other during their time working against each other and Asuka was happy that it was Ember who went on to win the Championship and took control of the NXT Women's Division.
12 Triple H Once Offered To Arrange A Job For Nakamura's Wife
In order to join WWE, Nakamura had to uproot his life and his wife's life and move to Orlando, Florida so that the couple could be close to the WWE Performance Centre. While many spouses of WWE stars usually stay behind, it seems that Harumi Maekawa wanted to come with her husband and as a way to help the couple to settle in, WWE COO Triple H even offered to arrange a job for Nakamura's wife.
Triple H was trying to be as helpful as he could be when it came to his latest recruit, but it is unknown as to whether Triple H was going to arrange a job for Maekawa in WWE or if the WWE COO has links to other companies in the area and could have hooked his wife up with a decent job.
11 Asuka Is A Huge Gamer
Xavier Woods is perhaps the best-known gamer in the WWE locker room currently and regularly holds tournaments between fellow WWE superstars, but Asuka is also a huge fan of gaming, so much so that she owns her own graphic design agency. A graduate from the Osaka University of Arts Junior College, the former NXT Champion actually worked as a graphic designer and even wrote for Xbox Magazine and designed graphics for Nintendo DS and a number of other mobile applications.
She revealed in an interview a few years ago that she also owns more than 3000 games and 26 different games consoles that have been released over the past few decades. Asuka could definitely give Xavier a run for his money on Up Up Down Down.
10 Nakamura Is Married
Shinsuke Nakamura has been adapting to social media and being in the spotlight ever since he joined WWE a few years ago, but he has been able to keep much of his personal life private. This could be because he doesn't update a lot of information on his social media accounts and isn't someone that talks in depth in interviews about anything outside of his career inside the ring.
One thing that is known about Nakamura is that he is a married man, which is confusing since for most of his career this fact was quite well hidden. The former NXT Champion married Harumi Maekawa back in September 2007 and after almost eleven years of marriage, the couple is still going strong.
9 Asuka And Nakamura Are Close Friends
When Asuka first came to WWE back in 2015 she couldn't speak a lot of English and Shinsuke Nakamura took her under his wing and the duo were able to become good friends. Since then they have followed each other around when it comes to their careers.
Asuka was promoted to the main roster a few months after Nakamura and even though they are on separate rosters, they still manage to find time for each other. It seems to have worked out perfectly that the two best Japanese stars in WWE right now have been able to win the biggest matches of their careers on the same night and will both be part of high profile matches at WrestleMania in a few months time.
8 Namakura Has Experience In MMA
When Shinsuke Nakamura first started out his wrestling career, he also decided to try his hand at Mixed Martial Arts. Nakamura made his MMA debut just months after he first made his wrestling debut, but lost his first match. The Japanese star would end his MMA career not long afterwards with a 3-1-1 record, with all three of his victories coming via submission.
This just goes to show that some of Nakamura's in-ring offence could be used in an actual match and along with the likes of 205 Live star Jack Gallagher and former UFC Champion and current Universal Champion Brock Lesnar, Nakamura could also claim that he is actually a legitimate fighter outside of the squared circle, even though he hasn't decided to try his hand at MMA again for more than a decade.
7 Asuka's Favourite Wrestler Is Triple H
When Asuka came to NXT, it was much more of a dream come true for the former Indy star, since she was able to meet her hero and the man that she refers to as her all-time favourite wrestler Triple H. The WWE COO and the brains behind NXT became Asuka's inspiration when she was just getting into wrestling because she was ever a fan of wrestling growing up.
Many new wrestlers who come to the company have nothing but nice things to say about Triple H, but Asuka has noted in many interviews before she came to WWE that Triple H is her inspiration along with the likes of Akira Maeda, Volk Han, Keiji Muto, and Minoru Suzuki. Asuka is definitely someone who has brought something different to the world of wrestling.
6 Nakamura Has Been In A Music Video
Nakamura is on TV every week as a WWE superstar so it probably isn't that much of a big deal that the former NXT Champion has been featured in a music video. Nakamura was featured in this video before he made it to WWE, it was the Japanese version of the highly popular single Happy by Pharrell Williams and Nakamura was quite happy about his inclusion in the video.
The WWE ring isn't the only place at Nakamura has been able to show off his incredible dancing skills, as he can be seen in the above video showing off his moves along with the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. This video was made a few years before Nakamura made his way to WWE, but it seems that he definitely still has the moves to make it into many more videos of this kind.
5 Asuka Owns A Hair Salon
Ever wondered why Asuka always has incredible looking hair? The former NXT Women's Champion has always had different coloured hair and somehow always manages to ensure that her hair stands out, but unlike many of the other women in the WWE locker room, Asuka doesn't have to rely on WWE stylists to maintain her look, she does this herself.
Asuka was pursuing a career in graphic design when she owned a hair salon in Yokohama called Another Heaven. She has been able to use many of the skills that she learned when she owned a salon, in her wrestling career, since the WWE Universe are always commenting on how incredible her hair always looks. She has mentioned the salon a number of times on Social Media and back in 2016 Tweeted Kenny Omega and thanked him for visiting.
4 Namakura Is The King Of Nicknames
Shinsuke Nakamura hasn't been in WWE for all that long and the company has already been able to coin the nicknames "The Artist" and "The King of Strong Style" for the former NXT Champion, but these aren't the only nicknames that the Japanese star has had throughout his career.
Nakamura has been known as 'Super Rookie', 'The Child of God', 'The Black Saviour' 'The samurai of NJPW' and 'Supernova' throughout his wrestling career as it seems to have become common now for wrestlers to have nicknames as well as their own ring names. It is more than likely that his collection of names are set to grow in the coming months since he can now add Royal Rumble winner to his collection of accolades.
3 She Has Been In The Wrestling Business For 14 Years
At 36 years old, many of the WWE Universe can be forgiven for thinking that Asuka got into the business late and has since been able to climb her way through the ranks over the past few years, but Asuka actually made her wrestling debut back in 2004 at the age of 22.
Asuka joined All Japan Women's Wrestling but at that point the company was past its peak and was struggling financially so it came as no surprise that the company finally closed its doors not long afterwards. While there are many other women's promotions in Japan, there are no others that have had the impact on Japanese women's wrestling like AJW did, which is why Asuka is honoured to be a product of this promotion.
2 Nakamura Loves To Surf
Shinsuke Nakamura has always been a huge fan of surfing and tries to find as much free time as he can to surf outside of his wrestling career. The former NXT Champion has been seen in a number of videos showing other WWE stars how to surf as well as enjoying some time amongst the waves.
Nakamura was once quoting saying that he would love to have more free time to surf and that he doesn't like how far away he is from the beach right now since he was quite close to it in Japan and it was much easier for him to go surfing whenever he wanted. According to his Instagram, James Ellsworth and Nakamura had a lot of fun surfing before his release last year.
1 Asuka Has A Dog Called Ryoma
Asuka is quite private about her life outside of the ring which is why there isn't a lot known about the first ever Women's Royal Rumble winner when it comes to her personal life. That being said, Asuka is another WWE superstar who has a pet dog to go home to after weeks of touring with WWE.
Asuka shared the above image on her Instagram page back in 2016 which is of her dog who is called Ryoma. It is unknown who looks after Ryoma while Asuka is on the road with WWE for more than 300 days a year, but at least it is known that Asuka has someone this cute to go home to after the endless work that she puts in on WWE TV every week.
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