The WWE Hall of Fame is going international with its latest inductee.

Going into the Class of 2024 at WrestleMania 40 weekend in Philadelphia is the legendary Keiko “Bull” Nakano.

The former WWE Women’s champion is already a member of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame, whose editor, Dave Meltzer, once wrote that Nakano “is probably one of the six or seven greatest woman pro wrestlers who ever lived.”

Nakano tweeted out a thank you: “WWE Hall of Fame!! My wish has come true and I have decided to receive the award in 2024. I am honored to be the first Japanese female wrestler to do so. thank you.”

By the age of 16, Nakano was already an established wrestler and at age 17, a champion. The All Japan Women’s Wrestling Association was the biggest women’s promotion in the world at the time, and Nakano held its world title for almost three years. The promotion was full of amazing talent, including Manami Toyota, Akira Hokuto, Kyoko Inoue and Dump Matsumoto

Nakano also formed a tag team with Matsumoto.

As the junior member of a tag team with Dump Matsumoto, she headlined during the heyday of the Crush Gals as a 17-year-old. At 19, she was the top heel in the promotion, and she won the world title one week before her 22nd birthday.

Bull Nakano as WWF Women's champion, heading to the ring in London, Ontario. Photo by Terry Dart

Bull Nakano as WWF Women’s champion, heading to the ring in London, Ontario. Photo by Terry Dart

Nakano went to the WWF where she had a lengthy feud with Alundra Blayze / Madusa Miceli, who had known each other in Japan.

In an interview for her autobiography, Miceli praised Nakano. “If it wasn’t for my stint in Japan, and getting the shit beat out of me for a year and a half, and then finally rewriting what was happening, and then earning their respect and fast forward to Bull Nakano and WWF, my career wouldn’t have taken off as it did,” said Miceli. “I owe a lot of it to Bull and our matches. Her and I never really had to say anything. We didn’t even speak together. Don’t get me wrong, I meant in the matches, we just rolled, those are just moves. If you watch our matches, and I have watched them, you don’t see us talking. It was beautiful.”

Nakano left the WWF under circumstances that were never truly revealed — rumored to be a failed drug test.

In 1997, she abruptly left pro wrestling without the usual retirement ceremony in Japan. For a time, she was a golf pro in Florida and tried to golf professionally in Japan. Later, she ran a bar and grill restaurant in the Nakano section of Tokyo.

In 2012, Nakano had her official retirement ceremony.

Paul Heyman was the first announced WWE Hall of Fame inductee for the Class of 2024.

TOP PHOTO: Bull Nakano in WWE. WWE photo


Bull Nakano steals the show at The Summit