Bull Nakano to be inducted into WWE Hall of Fame

Nakano was best known by U.S. fans for her rivalry with Alundra Blayze. WWE

Bull Nakano won professional wrestling championships in three different countries. This April, she'll be immortalized by the world's largest promotion.

WWE will induct Nakano, arguably one of the greatest of all time in women's wrestling, into its Hall of Fame during WrestleMania week in Philadelphia, officials told ESPN on Wednesday.

"During my active years, I was able to get championship belts in Japan, America and Mexico," Nakano told ESPN through an interpreter. "But just one thing was missing -- I didn't get inducted into the Hall of Fame. I wanted this. Finally, in 2024 in WrestleMania week, I am able to get this."

Nakano, 56, debuted in Japan's women's wrestling scene, which is referred to as "joshi" after the Japanese word for girl, in the early 1980s. During that period, women's wrestling was red-hot from a business perspective, at times drawing bigger crowds and getting higher television ratings in Japan than men's wrestling.

Nakano was one of the top draws for All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling for years as a fearsome, face-painted heel. She won the AJW championship and WWWA title in the '80s, with huge matches against (and tagging with) the likes of Dump Matsumoto, Kyoko Inoue, Akira Hokuto and Aja Kong.

In the 1990s, Nakano expanded her horizons, traveling to Mexico and winning the CMLL World women's championship in 1992. Nakano was best known by U.S. fans for her rivalry with Alundra Blayze (also known as Madusa) in the then-WWF. She beat Blayze for the WWF women's title in front of more than 42,000 at the Tokyo Dome in 1994 on an all-women's card put on by AJW. It was rare for a WWF title to be defended in Japan, but Nakano won it there and defended it once before dropping it back to Blayze in 1995.

Nakano, whose real first name is Keiko, also performed briefly for WCW in the mid-1990s, including the WCW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling co-promoted shows in North Korea that drew the largest crowds in the history of the industry -- more than 150,000 each for a two-night event in 1995. Nakano resumed her feud with Blayze in WCW in 1996. She retired in 1997.

Since then, Nakano has worked for a few women's wrestling promotions behind the scenes in Japan and the United States. She also played professionally as a golfer, once qualifying for the LPGA.