Shinsuke Nakamura has slowly and unassumingly become one of the longest reigning United States Champions of the last decade. On paper, his reign seems impressive - 4 months and counting as champion, and 5 successful title defenses. But there's more to it than just stats.
For a while now, Nakamura's reign has felt like an afterthought, often used as a launching pad for other feuds (Orton-Hardy, Rusev-English, for example). Now that it seems Rusev has his eye on The Artist, we could see an honest-to-goodness feud between the two. This could be what it takes to reignite interest in the United States title.
It seems Nakamura's reign has reached its twilight days, and it won't be long before we see a new United States Champion.
Here are some bold predictions for the lineage of the star-spangled belt.
Shinsuke Nakamura now has a target on his back - The Lion of Bulgaria is coming to hunt. The King of Strong Style has made a new enemy thanks to his underhanded tactics, particularly his ambush last week before their match started.
The two men have solid chemistry, and with proper booking and a good storyline, this could be something spectacular. Nakamura's underhanded tactics will allow him to escape at either TLC or SmackDown with the red, white, and blue still in his grasp, but he will get what's coming to him.
The two rivals will meet once again at the Royal Rumble, this time in a No Holds Barred match. Try as he might, Nakamura would be unable to vanquish The Lion, and Rusev will walk away with the United States Championship after a hard-fought battle.
#3 Randy Orton
After Rusev leaves behind a defeated Nakamura, he will face his greatest challenge yet when he meets an old foe. Randy Orton is going to want the United States Championship back. And he will pry it from Rusev's hands if necessary.
These former enemies will lock horns once again, this time over the championship, maybe even at WrestleMania. Rusev, the valiant warrior, will try his best to hold on to his title. But Randy Orton takes what he wants. He is venomous, cunning, and dangerous beyond measure.
After a hard-hitting and exciting match, Orton will claim the star-spangled belt for a second time. But The Viper isn't content to just win. He wants to leave his mark, so he ambushes Rusev after the match to make a point. With The Bulgarian Brute out of the way, Orton now believes he is untouchable.
But there is no rest for the wicked. There are always demons lurking in the shadows.