One week ago, Shinsuke Nakamura won a 2018 Royal Rumble. He kick a margin of 29 other competitors and separated both John Cena and Roman Reigns to acquire a pretension shot of his selecting during WrestleMania. Nakamura done his preference immediately; he would quarrel AJ Styles for a WWE Championship.
It’s a compare done in veteran wrestling heaven. The final (and only) time they fought any other was during NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10, where they competed for a IWGP Intercontinental Championship. It was 25 mins of fast-paced, uninterrupted action; a compare is deliberate a complicated classical and a prominence of both men’s careers. They left a graduation immediately thereafter to pointer with WWE.
And maybe since of this match’s reputation, WWE has taken heedfulness to keep a dual detached on SmackDown. Their particular feuds have never overlapped. But Nakamura and Styles did plant seeds for a intensity dispute down a road. Every now and then, they would confront one another backstage and smooth fans’ appetites. The many approach reference was during a 2017 Money in a Bank pay-per-view, where Styles and Nakamura stared any other down from conflicting sides of a ladder.
But over a past year, while Styles became a 2-time universe champion, Nakamura suffered. Prior to a Royal Rumble, a final time Nakamura won a PPV compare was in Jul 2017, when he degraded Baron Corbin around suspension at Battleground. His final purify PPV win was in May 2017, when he pinned Dolph Ziggler at Backlash. And in that interlude between Backlash and the Royal Rumble, he mislaid uninterrupted PPV matches to Jinder Mahal, one of a weakest champions in WWE history. He also mislaid a SmackDown compare to Kevin Owens this past December. This was not a curriculum vitae of a male being neat to quarrel AJ Styles during WrestleMania.
Fans feared a funeral since Nakamura didn’t fit Vince McMahon’s mold of a tip guy. He was high though not overly muscular. He was jumpy and eccentric. He couldn’t cut a extensive promo, since he isn’t smooth in English. And nonetheless clinging WWE fans knew Nakamura’s potential–his NXT run was a hospital in earthy storytelling and charisma–it seemed that Vince McMahon didn’t.
Yet, here we are. WWE has a small over dual months to build Nakamura vs. Styles into a categorical event, WrestleMania attraction. And that starts with undoing some repairs and compelling Nakamura as a dangerous, feared opponent.
Nakamura needs to be a categorical eventer on SmackDown each week. If he’s operative a solo match, he needs to squish his opponent. If he’s operative a tab match, he needs to transparent a ring and measure a pin. And if along a way, Nakamura “breaks” an opponent’s jaw or gets someone “stretchered” out of a arena, all a better. His impression is too ardent and decorated to work as an underdog. Styles needs to be a one who’s using scared.
There also needs to be some-more feverishness to this feud. This past Tuesday, Nakamura and Styles teamed adult to quarrel Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The dual group won, and they took their bows together. But that’s a arrange of thing that should occur after WrestleMania. Now is a time for drama, discontent, and conflict–not mutual adore and respect. Both Styles and Nakamura are babyfaces; one of them should spin heel before a month is out. Their upcoming WrestleMania compare should not be a accessible competition.
This would be reduction of a regard in NJPW. Generally speaking, Japanese wrestlers’ face/heel distinctions aren’t as clearly defined as Americans’–many Japanese wrestlers arrangement characteristics of both. Often, who fans hearten and disapprove depends on a wrestler’s “fighting spirit” and viewed toughness rather than his or her promos. Japanese audiences tend to provide wrestling as some-more of an jaunty foe than a melodramatic drama.
But for a some-more sentimental, primarily American audience, Nakamura vs. Styles would advantage from a remarkable double cranky or a delayed destruction of a partnership. Styles should be a one to spin heel; his 2016-2017 argument with John Cena stays a prominence of his WWE career. And Nakamura can sojourn a babyface; it requires him to do reduction talking, and his win during a Royal Rumble was definitely received. There’s no need to delayed that momentum.
A technically shining compare during WrestleMania is a given; Nakamura vs. Styles will substantially take a show, regardless of how good a compare is built over a subsequent dual months. But with a classic, well-delineated “good vs. evil” narrative, it can be towering to a arrange of “WrestleMania moment” that WWE chases each year.