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Shinsuke Nakamura needs a big match against AJ Styles

Chris Schubert

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WrestleMania

WWE has made it very clear. The matchup between Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles for the WWE Championship is a “dream match.”

For those of us who are aware of the wrestling world outside of WWE, we know that this isn’t the first time that Nakamura and Styles have faced off. They had a battle back at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in New Japan that tore the house down.

Because of that matchup, everybody is excited about what the sequel can bring. While it’s probably unlikely that they could match the New Japan style in a WWE ring, this match has perhaps the most hype of any match on the card.

That is why this match is so important for Shinsuke Nakamura.

Nakamura’s run in NXT/WWE has left a lot to be desired. If forced to pick, Nakmaura’s best WWE match would be his first one: his match against Sami Zayn in NXT. Since then, Nakamura hasn’t poured out the classic matches that he’s expected to produce.

Some of that has to do with his opponents. His feud with Jinder Mahal was never going to produce a match of the year candidate. When he started on SmackDown Live, feuds with Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler also didn’t help Nakamura.

Now, with Nakamura closing in on his first WrestleMania, he needs to show that he belongs. Fair or unfair, a lot of the wrestling world is going to judge Nakamura based off of this performance. If he doesn’t have a classic with Styles, there will be questions of whether or not he gets ‘it’.

There is no need for Nakamura/Styles to be what it was in New Japan. There are plenty of examples from the past three years of WWE-style matches reaching the level of top matches. Styles himself was in one with John Cena at the Royal Rumble back in 2017.

Since coming to WWE, Nakamura hasn’t had the feud and/or the opponent to create the magic from his New Japan days. At WrestleMania, Nakamura is going to have both.

This feud has felt different. There is a different kind of energy coming off of Nakamura. It feels as if Nakamura is finally enjoying a feud for the first time during his WWE run. The whole point of Nakamura coming to the WWE was to prove that he could work this style and succeed.

There’s no question about him being over, or the fans not knowing who he is. The reaction to him winning the Royal Rumble back in January is proof of that.

Nakamura is finally getting the stage, the feud and the opponent to step up and show the WWE Universe who Shinsuke Nakamura is. If it doesn’t mesh on the grandest stage of them all, a lot of the blame will be pointed at Nakamura.

This might be the most important match of Shinsuke Nakamura’s career. His track record speaks for itself. It’s time for him to add some WWE matches to it.

Chris is a recent graduate of Arizona State University, where he majored in Journalism and Mass Communication. He has covered spring training, the Super Bowl, WWE and the MLB for a variety of websites in the past.

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