Why I am not looking forward to Styles vs Nakamura at WrestleMania 34
I hate to rain on a parade... but I can't see phenomenal anywhere.
Sure, anything can happen when AJ Styles is defending his WWE Title against 5 other men at this Sunday's SmackDown Live PPV, FastLane.
It is possible that WWE may shock us with their WrestleMania plans for the WWE Title, and swing a u-turn on the proposed AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura by having John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Baron Corbin, Kevin Owens or Sami Zayn take the Title from Styles at FastLane.
But in reality, we all have an inkling that we are getting Styles and Nakamura at WrestleMania because that's what WWE has more or less confirmed and that is what the WWE Universe want (I can see the headline now- BREAKING NEWS; WWE give fans what they want).
When the two internet and indy darlings, the WWE Champion and the 2018 Royal Rumble winner, stepped against each other in a WWE ring in the 2017 Money in the Bank match as opponents, fans were mesmerized.
The atmosphere was electric in the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Did we ever think we would see either of these two New Japan Pro Wrestling alumni in the WWE? No.
Did we ever think we would see Styles and Nakamura against each other in a WWE ring? No.
That is why it was such a big moment, and it is why Baron Corbin winning the MITB briefcase was the last thing on our minds after the PPV - because we were all talking about the stand-off.
It was at this moment we knew that WWE were on to something. A dream match was maybe an understatement. We thought we were going to get a bout between the two at SummerSlam.
Rumors deceived us though, and we didn't get it.
'The Phenomenal One' was US Champion at the time and defended his title against Kevin Owens successfully, at the big PPV, whilst Nakamura unsuccessfully challenged Jinder Mahal for the WWE Championship.
The decision not to have the pair go at it at SummerSlam was a wise one by WWE.
That PPV is huge, that match would have been huge, but WrestleMania is the best PPV of the year. And with the potential of a Styles vs Nakamura bout being one of the best matches of the year whenever it takes place, WrestleMania 34 was the obvious place for the contest to occur.
When AJ Styles won the WWE Championship from Mahal in November, excitement in the wrestling community started to brew.
That dream match happening at WrestleMania was looking really enticing now that one of the men that would be involved was now WWE Champion (for the second time in his career).
A few months later, Nakamura won the Royal Rumble 2018 match. Game, set, and MATCH. Nakamura now had a WWE Title opportunity for WrestleMania.
And Styles, bar any unexpected changes at FastLane, will be the WWE Champion on SmackDown Live.
On the post-Rumble episode of SmackDown Live, Nakamura told Styles he wanted to take him on at WrestleMania 34. And WWE confirmed the match, on the basis of the FastLane six-pack challenge result.
That has not been forgotten for a few weeks as WWE look to keep us guessing about the WrestleMania SmackDown Live WWE Title bout whilst FastLane approached. But we are all more than sure Styles will be defending his WWE Championship against 'The Artist', unless WWE want its fans in the social media community to go into an uproar.
But I am not looking forward to the bout
I must be the only one, but I am not excited, hyped or intrigued for AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34.
There are many reasons for this.
However, I wish to make it clear that that has nothing to do with the match itself, because the two know how to pull it off in the ring, and together they should be clockwork.
My reasons for the lack of enthusiasm have more to do with the build-up to it.
Let's take a look
The first issue I have is with WWE's booking of Shinsuke Nakamura. Since debuting on the main roster, Nakamura has been creatively stifled.
His feud with Dolph Ziggler was awful, terribly done and the matches were rather boring.
His SummerSlam feud with Jinder Mahal was uninteresting, and I can't understand how that is possible considering we are talking about a WWE Championship SummerSlam feud.
That then dragged on past SummerSlam into the Hell in a Cell PPV in October, Nakamura losing without much fuss yet again.
To think that we didn't care about Nakamura being in a WWE Title feud with the company shows how badly he was used. As I have previously mentioned, we didn't even think that would happen not too long ago.
Next, Shinsuke was needlessly dragged into the Shane McMahon-Owens/Zayn mix, and he and Randy Orton faced "Kami" at Clash of Champions in December, with him on the losing side of a tag-team match that felt like a SmackDown main event, rather than a PPV match. Owens and Zayn had their jobs on the line and the special guest referee Daniel Bryan helped them win.
So if you are someone like me who did not watch the Superstar in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and barely watched him in NXT, why should you care about Nakamura?
Why should I care to see him in one of the highest profile matches on The Grandest Stage of Them All when he hasn't even impressed me on SmackDown Live?
Nakamura won the Royal Rumble match in January, which was a well-needed boost, but there was no story to him winning; it came out of nowhere. It wasn't like he was booked beforehand like someone who was going to win the 30-man match.
I wish that was all I had to complain about. But now Nakamura is facing Rusev in a singles match at FastLane. Why on earth would WWE book Nakamura against the most popular guy in WWE at the moment?
Of course Nakamura will win, but fans aren't going to be happy to see Rusev lose again, and some may resent Nakamura for this.
Not clever, WWE.
The biggest issue though, which is connected to the other one, is that WWE's booking on SmackDown Live, in general, has been dreadful.
We know that over the past few months SmackDown Live has become really poor, and fans are really starting to get fed up with the underdog brand that we were all in love with for a good while after the brand split back in 2016.
However, not even taking the poor booking as of late into consideration, all of the big SmackDown Live WWE Title matches at WrestleMania and SummerSlam since that brand split have been horrible both booking-wise and in-ring-wise.
Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler (SummerSlam 2016), Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt (WrestleMania 33) and Jinder Mahal vs Shinsuke Nakamura (SummerSlam 2017) were not entertaining rivalries whatsoever, and that resulted in the matches themselves being disliked by fans.
So with the creative team on SmackDown Live doing worse than ever at the moment, can we really expect any better for Nakamura and Styles?
Not really, especially as the two are so well liked, it leaves us with a face vs face situation. That is never a recipe for an exciting conflict, as it lacks the ferociousness that could take it to the next level.
Therefore, it is with remorse that I say I am not looking forward to the potential AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura WrestleMania 34 match, and I am afraid WWE are going to do no justice to the work these guys will showcase.
The result does not even matter.
There is no doubt the match itself will be good, but there is every doubt about the build-up in my opinion, and that is the problem I have.
I hope I am proven wrong and there is a terrific story behind the match, but my gut says otherwise.
Comment below to let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree with my analogy?