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The Shining Prince and the Shining Wizard

One of histories earliest novels is credited to a young noble lady Murasaki Shikubu, who wrote about a hapless prince named Genji. Though he is favored by the Emperor misfortune dampers Genji's career and reduces him to being a mere entertainer. He is the ultimate victim of Fujiwara politics in Heian Japan and his story is a true tragedy.

The obvious the correlation between start with "Shining," but it doesn't end there. Though we are yet to see Muto's fall it seems inevitable as he continues to kill his knees. Once the injury fully takes its toll, probably ending his career, both Keiji and Genji will be tragic brothers in Japanese history. The obvious difference is that Genji was reduced to being a mere dancer, while Keiji is one of Japan's finest wrestlers to date. Both had those who appreciated their talents both had their detractors. Genji, despite his crown prince title, favoritism with his father and respect from several of his peers, was never able to earn his birthright. Keiji has been the opposite, becoming one of New Japan's most acclaimed wrestlers and one of the few Japanese to become a star in the US.

I think anyone who follows their worldly wrestling would definitely have to consider Keiji Muto for "wrestler of the year" voting. He may not be the entertainer that Austin is, the MVP that Kawada is, or the consummate athlete that Tanaka is, but he's produced the consistently best matches of the past year. Moreover, Muto has bridged the gap between New Japan and All Japan by holding the Triple Crown for much of the year and currently with Taiyo Kea holds the Double Tag and IWGP Tag titles.

The constant pain that Muto is in and status of his knees has to make one wonder if this unbelievable run is worth it all. This will certainly immortalize Muto as one of Japan's greatest competitors, putting out ***+ matches on two of the worst knees this side of Terry Funk. But he will probably look like a ninety year old in his fifties or worse. We all know of the current predicament of Tom Billington (Dynamite Kid) and Muto's body has probably been pushed just as hard.

I remember how painful it was watching Kenta Kobashi struggle through classic after classic and he's been out for almost a year now and is still rehabilitating. NOAH was forced to put Misawa in his spot for the Akiyama push, but will become of Muto's spot? It's not as simple as dropping the Triple Crown and three tag belts. He is also the leader of the prominent BATT group, which has taken him to Michinoku Pro to team with Jinsei Shinzaki. Muto must be able to cleanly sever all these ties before stepping aside for however long it takes and if he doesn't stop soon it may mean his career.

I don't know if the Double Tag belts are up in the air in this year's Tag League, hopefully not or we may have two stiffs (a.k.a. the Harris Brothers) with them. I'd like to see the returning Tenkoji regain the IWGP Tag belts, in what could be no less than a *** match. I think the Triple Crown is obviously the trickest of the bunch and Kawada seems the likely successor. These two had a good match this summer, but I think could put fourth a much better one for the Crown in the Budokan.

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