At WrestleMania 34, we are set for a dream match. 2018 Men’s Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura will take on the WWE Champion AJ Styles this Sunday for Styles’ championship. It’s a big deal for both men. They will surely be terrific and every fan is likely looking forward to this particular match if none other. The WWE Championship match is not always going to be good at WrestleMania. In fact, if you go back and look at who was in the match at each year’s WrestleMania…you’ll notice this too.
The issue people have with AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura is never their quality of performance, but rather the lack of understanding as to who they are. Most of us know about both men, and we know why they’re a big deal. Most of the casual fans have already learned why AJ Styles was someone people could not shut up about for years. Now they also cannot shut up about him due to how amazing…or phenomenal, he has been.
Meanwhile, people are also learning more about Nakamura. Yet the issue is that there is not near enough known about him that can be assumed a casual fan or even someone new to the IWC can easily know. That has led to many people claiming that this match could be somewhat overrated. What’s the appeal? What makes it worth the watch? And why are people talking about it as a dream match? Let’s deep-dive into the subject.
Who Really Is Shinsuke Nakamura?
While Shinsuke Nakamura has been in the WWE around 2 years now, he first went to WWE NXT upon his arrival to the company. It was here that he debuted in an amazing match with Sami Zayn, and continued to impress as one of the best workers in the world. While he would go on to have great success in WWE, he is most known for his work in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. For those unaware, Nakamura was a BIG deal in Japan. By big deal, we mean he was one of their top guys for years, and one of their highest paid too.
Nakamura came up in Japan at a time when the nation had lost many of its best performers or was seeing them retire. American and European wrestlers would come in and out, but few domestic names were major in the industry at this point. That was when he along with a few other Japanese wrestlers were part of a huge youth movement in the company. Nakamura was someone the company thought to be major, so they would throw titles on him almost instantly. This allowed him to become the youngest IWGP Heavyweight Champion in NJPW history. He would go on to win 2 more heavyweight titles with NJPW.
He would have incredible matches in Japan, doing so with the wrestling style known to the world as “Japanese Strong-Style.” Due to revolutionizing Strong Style and his amazing in-ring performances, he would be dubbed The King of Strong Style. He would go on to pretty much make the IWGP Intercontinental Title relevant in his later years with New Japan. As his need was going down due to being older and new top guys being picked, he did still have a lot left in the tank just a little over 30 years of age. This is why New Japan gave him this title, and did so on 5 occasions.
He would also wrestle a lot of the foreign competitors that came in. In fact, he wrestled Brock Lesnar in a relatively good match shortly after Lesnar left WWE. He’d also perform against the likes of Kenny Omega, and yes…even AJ Styles on only one occasion.
Why Is This A Dream Match For WrestleMania?
Remember that match with AJ referred to above? This match would actually go down for the IWGP Intercontinental Title that Nakamura was holding and that Styles wanted. Interestingly, the two would face off on the second biggest wrestling stage in the world, Wrestle Kingdom. This is New Japan’s annual event, similar to that of WrestleMania. It was this event in 2016 that the two had an incredible match that made people fall in love with the wrestlers all over again. It was hard-hitting, entertaining, and mesmerizing all at the same time.
Nakamura walked away as the victor in this match. But behind the scenes issues as well as who both men were at the time played a huge role in why people see this is a dream match today, despite only seeing it a mere 2 years ago. This match occurred in January of 2016. AJ Styles’ contract was up with New Japan and he wanted to go back home to America. He spoke with TNA Wrestling about a return to the company, but Triple H heard that Styles was available and managed to get in touch.
It was an easy choice for Styles to jump to WWE over TNA, but he had always planned to leave Japan that year regardless of which he’d go to. Meanwhile, AJ was the leader of the Bullet Club at the time. Two others from the club in Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were also planning to leave. To top it all off, Nakamura also wanted to try his hand in the world of WWE after dominating the Japanese scene for his entire career. It was time to move on, but not before they delivered a final great match.
With their departure, everyone knew that without having to be connected to a club or having to be a Japanese megastar, both men could be who they truly are. This would also allow them to ignore the issues behind the scenes, and simply go on to have an amazing match on the grandest stage of them all. The stage is set for them to do so, and it’s well worth seeing. Everyone knows Styles can deliver, but wait until you see him with Nakamura.
The Phenomenal Legacy Is On The Line At WrestleMania 34
King of Strong Style vs The Phenomenal One. It does not get much bigger than this for WWE fans on Sunday. WWE fans love AJ Styles, but so does management. Vince McMahon was unaware as to really who AJ was before he arrived, but he quickly knew why he was highly touted and why his son-in-law had to pay so much for him. Everyone knows how amazing Styles happens to be, even Vince himself. It’s said that McMahon sees AJ as this generation’s Shawn Michaels. Which is a pretty big claim.
It’s not just due to both being good wrestlers, but that McMahon can rely on them to deliver every single night. Especially in a top match for the card they are on. Going into this event, Shinsuke Nakamura had to win the men’s Royal Rumble match. He is one of the few men to ever win in his first Rumble appearance, joining the likes of Brock Lesnar. Vince knows that despite his insistence to only know about his product than others…fans wanted this and he had to give it to them. So he gave Nakamura a huge victory and AJ the WWE Title all to set this up.
He even gave Styles the title early as he knew Jinder Mahal could not deliver against Brock Lesnar, where Styles could. He was right. as their WWE Survivor Series match will prove. AJ even made Mahal look great in their rivalry. Nakamura has delivered a lot too. But AJ needs the win more than Nakamura at WrestleMania. The reason? It’s better to have tied their rivalry than to have Nakamura win twice. Yet at the end of the day, we’re likely to see Shinsuke walk out as WWE Champion. This is debatable though.
What isn’t debatable about this match? Most every fan believes it should go on last, in the main event. Not only does it include all traditional things that give us the main event at WrestleMania, but doing so would make history. If AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura went on last, they would be the first two full-time stars to be new main eventers at WrestleMania since WrestleMania 19. When, interestingly, Brock Lesnar faced Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship.
Will it main event? It’s hard to know. However, WWE is seemingly enjoying the history being made lately. It would not be shocking if WWE, who has themselves continued to call this “a dream match,” did put this on last. It’s certainly worthy.
[Featured Image By WWE]