WWE’s resident King of Strong Style had a bad 2017, undoubtedly his worst in WWE. He started his main roster career the Tuesday night after WrestleMania 33 and was put into a lackluster feud with Dolph Ziggler. Neither man really seemed to care about the matches they were putting on, and the fans could tell when the pair were in the ring together.
Following that feud, Nakamura began feuding with Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship, and once again the matches were hard to watch at best. But I think everyone agrees that mostly Jinder’s fault. Sure it’s a two-way street, and Shinsuke once again seemed to not mesh well with his “dance partner,” but the way the matches were laid out didn’t help the pair either. Mahal’s reign consisted mostly of the Singh Brothers saving his championship for him by interfering in his matches. Which got old quick and made fans not care because we knew the outcome of the match.
After his feud with Mahal was over, Shinsuke entered creative limbo, as he didn’t have anything to do. Eventually, he was added to the five-man team that would represent SmackDown Live at Survivor Series.
Everyone was excited about the traditional Survivor Series Tag Match as it pitted Finn Balor, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman, Triple H, and Kurt Angle for Team Raw, going up against Nakamura, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, John Cena and Shane McMahon. The potential match-ups we could have seen in this match left everyone salivating at the mouth. While we did get to see a few of them for a couple of minutes, like Balor vs. Nakamura, and Roode vs. Triple H, they were shortlived and disappointing. WWE was more focused on getting the part-timers over, instead of letting the superstars that were new to the roster show off their talents.
WWE seems to stuck in the past. Survivor Series proves it, and past Rumble winners show even more proof. The previous five winners are:
2013 – John Cena, 2014 – Batista, 2015 – Roman Reigns, 2016 – Triple H, 2017 – Randy Orton
Two of those five guys is currently on the roster full-time. Granted when Cena won he was wrestling full-time. But even now he’s going into taking more time off, and only showing up when WWE absolutely has to have him, and even then he doesn’t do very much. For proof of this watch last year’s Survivor Series match.
Orton will probably be on his way out pretty soon too, even though he is still wrestling full-time, he’s not getting any younger, and WWE needs to start focusing on the future.
I know Nakamura isn’t a young guy, coming in at 37 years old, he’s far from the youngest guy on the roster. But, he’s one of the newest on the main roster, and needs a good push, especially since SmackDown Live is in need of main event talent, and Nakamura has already proven that he can hold his own in the main event scene in NXT, and NJPW. Currently, SDLive only has AJ Styles that everyone sees as the main event guy. Even though Orton, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn are all on the precipice of making the main event scene, WWE needs to push someone to the top of the roster, and fans want to see the match-up between Nakamura and Styles at Mania.
WWE needs show fans that can focus on the future, instead of the past. There’s eventually going to come a time when Cena, Orton, Triple H, Batista and Brock Lesnar can’t answer the call whenever WWE comes knocking. And currently, WWE only has one person that they have faith in to take their spots in the main event scene, Roman Reigns. While Reigns has proven that he can hold his own, and carry a show. Eventually, WWE is going to have to take a chance on other wrestlers to see if they can do the same.
This year’s Royal Rumble could be the start of that. They can show that they are willing to let guys sink or swim based on their own ability and talents. The Patriots never would have known that Tom Brady was their franchise QB if they hadn’t taken the chance on him when Bledsoe got hurt.
WWE needs to start “experimenting” with the guys they have now before it’s too late. Once the guys they currently rely on to carry the shows can’t go anymore it will be too late.
Nakamura can be the first wrestler they try this with, and as long as they give him the feud with Styles that we all want to see it will bring a lot of new eyes to the WWE product. All the fans who watch New Japan, where Styles and Nakamura first faced off, will watch WrestleMania just to see the two square off on the “Grandest Stage of Them All.” And if the rest of the card around that match is excellent some of them may just stick around to see what happens the next night, and weeks to follow.
Nakamura and Styles not only is the match that WWE fans want to see, but it also is the match that non-WWE fans want to see. The drawing power of that match will be enough to bring in new fans, and fans that have stopped watching because the same old people won all the time. This match holds two independent stars, who fans that haven’t watched WWE in a while are familiar with, and could be the match that makes some of those fans stick around.
Because we all know this match will be a Match of the Year Candidate across all promotions.