Ryan Dilbert’s 10-Count: Shinsuke Nakamura, Matt Hardy and a 2018 Wish List

Credit: WWE.com

1. Will The Real King of Strong Style Stand Up?

Shinsuke Nakamura didn’t set WWE SmackDown fervent in his initial year. He didn’t demeanour as enthralling as he has during his peak. He didn’t puncture as deeply into a audience’s chest as he has in a past. 

It was not a miss of talent that saw Nakamura’s rookie run on a categorical register underwhelm. Fans who have seen his work with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and NXT know a Nakamura who strutted around a blue code in 2017 wasn’t a bone-fide chronicle of The King of Strong Style.

So what happened?

The answer has mixed levels. Nakamura’s argument with Jinder Mahal is to blame, for one. The dual Superstars didn’t have any chemistry to pronounce of between them. Their matches fell plant to repeated engagement that saw The Singh Brothers confuse and The Maharaja pounce.

But a essay was a misfortune component of it all. Nakamura indeed pronounced a class propagandize word “sticks and stones might mangle my bones, yet difference will never harm me” in a context of wrestling promo. That’s a fireable offense for whoever authorized that line.

Mahal derisive Nakamura’s facial expressions and ethnicity wavered from tedious to uncomfortable.

And WWE didn’t ever seem to get a hoop on who Nakamura is. It presented him as a goofy, grinning peacock some-more than a head-kicking warrior. His climax has to be highlighted, yet a ratio of fun and extreme was all wrong with him.

Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross was spot-on when he spoke about Nakamura on The Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast. “It’s bell to bell, we are lacking what we know is there, we are not getting,” Ross said. “I would adore to see him lapse to that.”

That should be one of WWE’s tip goals in 2018.

It has a singular and electric star in Nakamura. Righting a boat with him would accelerate SmackDown and give a New Era a centerpiece to build around.

One step in that routine will be to ask Nakamura to pronounce less. Promos aren’t his strength. Let him strike his foes with usually a word or dual during a time. As Fightful forked out, a former NXT champ’s brief debate on Tuesday’s SmackDown was of a suitable length: 

In a ring, it feels like Nakamura is holding back. WWE has to possibly take a control off him and let him hit folks around or pull The King of Strong Style to rediscover his aged self.

And rather than penetrate him with stories centered around his nationality, a elementary pretension follow is a approach to benefaction him. Have him take down enemy after enemy as he draws closer to a date with WWE champion AJ Styles. 

Nakamura should still do his heading antics, yet we need to see some-more justification that he’s an ass-kicker. 

For many of 2017, we got Diet Nakamura. The unmixed chronicle rising in 2018 would be huge.


2. Make a Most of a Streaks

Asuka is unstoppable. Curt Hawkins might have mislaid what feat feels like during this point. While Asuka stays undefeated, Hawkins is removing closer to losing 200 matches in a row.

The Empress of Tomorrow hold a NXT women’s pretension for 523 days, as seen on WWE.com. She is now 25-0 given fasten a categorical roster, per CageMatch.net, after never pang a pinfall or acquiescence during NXT. 

Hawkins, meanwhile, is creation a Cleveland Browns demeanour good by comparison.

The some-more WWE spotlights both stories, a better. Asuka’s star will arise a longer she stays untouchable. Heading into WrestleMania with a 0 in her detriment mainstay would be intelligent business. The impulse she loses has to be done huge, a gutting softened on a grand stage.

Charlotte Flair’s pay-per-view streak had an unmemorable ending. WWE can’t make a same mistake with Asuka.


3. Throwback Video of a Week: Kairi Sane

One of a bullet points for a 2018 NXT devise needs to review “lots and lots of Kairi Sane.”

The Mae Young Classic finalist will be a star for NXT and a categorical register as she was for Japan’s World Wonder Ring Stardom promotion. Thunderous strikes, seemly flights and a captivating participation supplement adult to one overwhelming performer.

For a demeanour behind during some of her pre-WWE work, check out a former Kairi Hojo take on Io Shirai during a Stardom 5Star Grand Prix 2016:

That’s a kind of movement that needs to browbeat a NXT categorical eventuality stage in a entrance months. Sane battling her approach adult a ladder to get a moment during Ember Moon and a women’s pretension is a story packed with potential.


4. Slow Down on a Call-Ups

As many as uninformed faces are required for WWE, a association would be intelligent to deliver fewer of them in 2018. 

The categorical register welcomed a prolonged list of names from NXT and hasn’t found space for all of them. Tye Dillinger has been absent for weeks during a time. Bobby Roode went from NXT champ to also-ran midcarder with not adequate of a story.

Raw and SmackDown combined Sarah Logan, Liv Morgan, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Ruby Riott and Asuka to a sold women’s division. WWE would be softened off building those talents before adding to a mix.

Quality over apportion is a cliche that a association would be best to heed.


5. Woken and Weird

Late in a year, Matt Hardy finally morphed into a unhinged impression he played during Impact Wrestling. Rather than being “broken,” though, he became “woken.” And now we’re in a routine of saying how WWE handles this surprising persona.

All out is a usually approach to go with this.

WWE needs to give fans some-more sightings of Napoleon a fish. Hardy’s new self needs to conflict on hulk chessboards, float go-karts around a Wyatt Family compound, enroll a assistance of drones and deliver new sidekicks. Anything brief of pedal-to-the-floor weirdness will be a disappointment. 


6. A Rebirth Rolls On

The National Wrestling Alliance is in a midst of a transformation. Since Billy Corgan re-launched a ancestral promotion in October, a hum has begun to approximate it. And that’s not some passing hype formed around Corgan’s celebrity, either.

Through intelligent selling and sharp presentation, a NWA is creation sound again.

The 10 Pounds of Gold video array on YouTube has been top-notch. The videos have showcased stars like Tim Storm and Magnus, spotlighting their motivations and giving them space to tell their stories.

NWA has leaned on a bequest and built a code around a world’s title. And it’s working. 

Hopefully, 2018 sees some-more of a same. Where a resurrected association heads subsequent in a expansion will be one of a some-more intriguing stories of a year.


7. Cinderella Not Benchwarmer

Tye Dillinger should be hungrily chasing a United States Championship, flourishing spooky with that title, entrance within milliseconds of a three-count that will make him a champion. He’s a renouned loser with a fun gimmick. He shouldn’t be sitting off-camera to a indicate one forgets he’s partial of a show.

The 2018 devise for The Perfect 10 can’t underline as many loitering as this year did.

Per CageMatch.net, Dillinger went 11 weeks though a televised compare after Hell in a Cell in October. He kick Aiden English on May 2 and then didn’t get behind in a ring on SmackDown until Jul 4. He didn’t contest at SummerSlam, Survivor Series, Money in a Bank or Clash of Champions.

SmackDown’s airtime is limited, yet that’s not acceptable.

Dillinger is a new item a blue code contingency make some-more use of. He has during slightest one constrained Cinderella story in him. And his real-life story, one where he toiled in a developmental complement for years, is a ideal fit for SmackDown’s “land of opportunity” theme.


8. More Tag Team Bouts Like These

Tag group wrestling flourished in WWE this year.

The Usos vs. The New Day was one of a best rivalries of 2017. Sheamus and Cesaro were bedrocks for Raw. The Shield’s reunion, The Authors of Pain’s arise and The Usos’ continued expansion towering a product.

Here’s anticipating all that success continues and we see some-more tab group thrillers like these in 2018:

Things are set adult for tab wrestling to keep delivering.

The Revival is on Raw, and both Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are healthy again. Heavy Machinery is going to be a force during NXT. And SmackDown’s tab group multiplication has restocked itself utterly nicely.


9. Better Writing for a Women

Too mostly in 2017 it felt like WWE’s essay group patched together a women’s division’s narratives during a final minute.

Both Raw and SmackDown saw lots of tab matches of small effect and multi-wrestler bouts. Rather than concentration on a few rivals’ issues with any other, a association tossed a bulk of a multiplication into a same pot and opted for a engagement stew.

We didn’t get to see adequate of Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss’ gossamer partnership. Women like Becky Lynch got mislaid in a shuffle. And introducing two mirror factions and storylines on a dual brands reeked of laziness. 

WWE didn’t do scarcely adequate to distinguish The Riott Squad from Absolution. Riott’s crew, in particular, need their characters fleshed out in a large way. The writers need to give them some-more backstage promos, a goal statement, something. They would be correct to steal from The Shield’s playbook and enclose relating gear, too.

The women’s multiplication pennyless some-more belligerent in 2017 and will continue to do so in a entrance year, yet in further to a trail-blazing opportunities entrance a way, a apportionment of a WWE register needs softened storytelling to work with.


10. New Cases in a New Year

Breezango’s unchanging trips into a possess absurd, interesting dilemma of a WWE universe were a prominence of many a SmackDown. Tyler Breeze and Fandango found their niche as satire masters with reliably humorous Fashion Files backstage segments. 

Breeze now has his mind on destiny foes:

SmackDown has to showcase him and Fandango both in a ring and with some-more editions of Fashion Files. Breezango was one of a many pleasing surprises of 2017, and building on that is a no-brainer.

Let’s see some-more zaniness, some-more creativity and some-more of a twin who organically got over with a crowd.


Ryan Dilbert is a WWE Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @ryandilbert.

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