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WWE Rumors: Shinsuke Nakamura strategically used for SmackDown dark matches

Is this good or bad news for the King of Strong Style?

Why has the King of Strong Style been fighting in Dark Matches?

What’s the story?

SmackDown Live Superstar Shinsuke Nakamura has only been fighting in pre-show matches since his debut and the reason for this is believed to be tied to 205 Live attendance numbers, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.

In case you didn’t know...

Nakamura debuted in NXT in 2016 against Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Dallas. He would go on to defeat a majority of NXT’s stars before he won the NXT Championship.

Nakamura debuted on SmackDown following a segment with The Miz and Maryse parodying John Cena and Nikki Bella. The following week, Nakamura and Ziggler showed signs of a feud and have been fighting each other in dark matches these past two weeks.

The heart of the matter

Many fans have speculated how the WWE would use Nakamura once he debuted on the main roster, but the Wrestling Observer Newsletter claims that he has been used in the key babyface role to help 205 Live attendance numbers.

The WWE have been struggling with keeping crowds around for 205 Live, so they’ve been using popular wrestlers for dark matches as an incentive for fans to stay for the tapings. That position was held by Cena prior to his hiatus, but Nakamura has taken his place; possibly indicating how highly the WWE thinks of him.

What’s next?

As SmackDown builds towards the Backlash pay-per-view, Nakamura will begin to wrestle on television. However, they will probably continue using him in dark matches until they figure out a better way to get people to stick around for 205 Live.

Author’s take

Nakamura taking Cena’s role to help maintain 205 Live attendance is a good sign. Also, holding off on Nakamura’s first main roster match until Backlash would be a great way for any new fans to pay to watch him on the WWE Network.

Nakamura’s treatment in these past two weeks indicates that the WWE think highly of him and he will be built up as a top star soon. As far as the attendance for 205 Live goes, the WWE may just have to accept the fact that no one wants to watch a 3-hour show.

Fans have been complaining about the length of Monday Night Raw ever since they went to 3 hours back in 2012. Add SmackDown Live and 205 Live together, and it may as well be a 3-hour show.  

The only possible solution for this would be to move 205 Live tapings to Wednesday and have it air after NXT at Full Sail University. Not only would it mean a livelier crowd, but it could also possibly recapture the magic from the Cruiserweight Classic that many fans claim is long gone.


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