Since his win at the Royal Rumble 2018, Shinsuke Nakamura has made the most of his opportunity on Smackdown Live. Even though he was on the losing end at WrestleMania against AJ Styles, the King of Strong Style switched gears with a shocking heel turn. His change of attitude caused for him and Styles to continue their feud into the summer, which overall hasn’t been that bad (numerous low blows aside).
Let’s talk about his character change first. The change of character serves as a way of having a psychological advantage over Styles. From his “no speak English” tag, to intently drag out the contract signing on this past Smackdown is a well-done notion for Nakamura to get the heat he needs going into Money in the Bank. This has all built up since WrestleMania, so it’s a long time coming to see him and Styles go to war to possibly settle their score once and for all.
Many fans are familiar with the fantastic match the two men had two years prior at WrestleKingdom 10. Comparing that match to their program in WWE gives way to both men adapting to the company’s way of doing things. It is telling that the best match between the two in their WWE careers was on Smackdown just weeks ago. Not that it’s bad at all, because it’s not in the slightest. Cast aside what the majority of opinion is out there, there is no denial that WWE made the right call to take this feud past WrestleMania into SummerSlam.
Now, I know that SummerSlam is two months away. Fans know that so much can happen in that span of time. First, Money in the Bank is coming just around the corner – this Sunday as a matter of fact. What happens at this event will determine where paths will go, especially when it comes to the WWE Championship picture. With that comes a plethora of questions. Questions such as, will there be a Raw winner, or a Smackdown winner at Money in the Bank? Will match placement be a factor if said winner plans to cash in immediately? And one other question, what is next for Styles and Nakamura after Money in the Bank?
Keep in mind, this feud has not been a clean sweep for either man. There has been no clear winner at the last PPV event, which bought time for both men to continue their feud. With the match on Smackdown, Nakamura was victorious which allowed him to choose the stipulation for their upcoming match. And with that being said, Nakamura very well could be the one holding Championship gold over the Phenomenal One. Here are some of my reasons why Nakamura should be the Last Man Standing this Sunday at Money in the Bank.
Nakamura is easily the top heel on Smackdown thanks to his actions at WrestleMania. Winning the Championship will prove that his change of heart is not a fluke. Becoming the bad guy serves the purpose that he is in fact a force to be reckoned with. He is not a pushover, and if his rings skills are anything to go by, he is just as dangerous as a heel versus being a face.
Fans already know how immensely talented Nakamura is in the ring. I personally think his ring psychology is easily overlooked – and that is something that has played an incredible role since WrestleMania. If anything else, the way he has toyed with those in and out of the ring comes full circle as Nakamura knows what he is doing to get under everyone’s skin. It’s almost like he can pick until the other person snaps. Just exactly like how he did Styles during the backstage contract signing on Smackdown.
Nakamura absolutely has the tools that makes him the most hated man on Smackdown. He doesn’t need the gold to solidify his talent, but it would just add to the incredible job he has been doing since WrestleMania.
Pointless Heel Turn
The purpose of Nakamura’s heel turn is to take another direction into winning the WWE Championship. His path to Championship gold on the main roster has been a little more challenging versus his quick rise to the Championship in NXT. A slow start on Smackdown quickly ascended once Nakamura won the Royal Rumble. With his WrestleMania loss, Nakamura made quite the WrestleMania moment the second he low blowed Styles post-match.
From there both men have battled each other with no clear winner in the PPV matches. If Nakamura loses, what was the point of the heel turn to begin with? There is many positives with the heel turn, which includes his mannerisms in efforts to piss off anyone from the fans to his opponents. It’s heel gold at best considering that at one point there was nothing that could keep fans from cheering on Nakamura as he chased WWE glory. So why not reward him with a Championship run? I would not be surprised if Nakamura somehow cheated his way to his first WWE Championship. Look at past stars such as Triple H, Edge and The Rock. Their wins as heel were defining moments in their legacies. Nakamura would fit that bill nicely.
With SummerSlam right around the corner, it would be fitting for Styles to invoke his rematch clause at the second biggest PPV of the year. Giving both of these men a proper end to their WWE program would be the right thing to do. It is the perfect chance to close a chapter and start a new one. While I say that, it’s easy to forget that a wrench can easily be thrown into that via the Money in the Bank briefcase.
There is a 50/50 chance that a Smackdown guy wins the briefcase, and if that happens, then that is a big factor hanging over the WWE Championship picture. There are little things in between that could pose a threat as Styles and Nakamura attempt to reign supreme on the blue brand. But if there is a Raw winner, then it will eliminate that threat going into SummerSlam.
There is a saying that when one door closes, another one opens. So where could either man go after their program is done? I wouldn’t mind seeing Styles feud with someone such as Cien Almas, though if for some reason Styles is still Champion, then Samoa Joe certainly comes to mind. Nakamura could easily go into a feud with Daniel Bryan, which screams money.
NXT Minus 6: Too Early To Fantasy Book War Games?
Everyone loves fantasy booking. Right?
The answer is No. It’s not too early.
6. NXT teases us with a Matt Riddle-Arturo Ruas match that went 3 minutes? I know it’s not happening, but those guys deserve a Takeover spot. Kudos to NXT for playing up the mma aspect. Everything from Mauro’s commentary to the ref stoppage made this feel like it should have been in an octagon. If you haven’t already seen it, check out Ruas’ match from the Evolve 10th Anniversary show. Dude is a killer.
5. We got the final opening round match of the Dusty Rhodes Everyman Classic. Bronson Reed is good. He delivered what might be the biggest frog splash I’ve ever seen. There is always a place for athletic big men, but he’s not the story.
4. Dexter Lumas is creepy. The key to wrestling is to crank your personality up to 11. If this creepy thing is any part of Dexter Lumas, I don’t want to be in a room with him. I don’t trust him around my kids. I wonder how many crimes against humanity he’s already committed. Creepy in a way that Bray Wyatt can only hope to be.
3. Tyler Breeze enters the running for Savage Burn of the Year. He looked at Jaxson Ryker and asked “Weren’t you Buddy Murphy?” Brutal. That line alone is worth the return of Prince Pretty.
2. I finally got the moment I was waiting for: an interesting KUSHIDA match. I was ready to send him to 205 in exchange for Akira Tozawa. And if this is Apollo Crews, I will gladly take him back full time in NXT. Stellar matchup and worth watching. 4.4 stars.
1. Oh no, this cannot be happening. They’re turning Keith Lee into Kassius Ohno 2.0? He’s talking about getting passed over for the new guys? And he’s jobbing to Damian Priest next week? Been here a year and zero Takeover matches? The Ridiculous Keith Lee deserves better. THIS…CAN…NOT…BE…HAPPENING!!!
Bonus time: Old school versus new generation. Tyler Breeze heads up a cast of NXT OGs to take on Undisputed Era in (cue William Regal voice) War Games to determine NXT supremacy. Keep Apollo around. Throw in Cesaro and Harper, maybe even Samoa Joe, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a brawl. Either that or Undisputed Era versus the Club. I’m cool with both.
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (7-17-19)
Who will be the first to challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship?
Who will be the first to challenge Adam Cole for the NXT Championship?
Have I ever told anyone that I can’t stand Matt Riddle? I have? Okay. I don’t even know what it is, but he sets my teeth on edge. I will give him props for having a good match with Arturo Ruas, but I’m not sure what they’re doing with his character, except teasing a heel turn after that NASTY beatdown of Ruas. I am here for Killian Dain vs Riddle, that even sounds like fun!
Looks like we are going to Undisputed Era vs Street Profits at some point, but I’m waiting for UE to make a big deal about Street Profits being on the Main Roster for the last couple of weeks.
I love that Mia Yim is learning from everyone’s mistakes in dealing with Shayna Baszler and is going after Baszler’s friends, who are the real reason she’s stayed on top for so long. This feud is going to get nasty in a hurry and I can’t wait!
The next match of the NXT Breakout Tournament had a lot to live up to after two AMAZING matches and one not so amazing. I’m not sure what in the world Australian Strong Styles is, I’m guessing it’s like any ‘Strong Style’ in that it’s pretty hard hitting. I also didn’t know Australia had a Black Forest, it was never on ‘Crocodile Hunter’. I did like this match, however. I can’t say it was as amazing as some of the other matches, but it was really good. Bronson Reed won the match for Australia, so we’ll see what happens in Round 2.
Someone should tell Tyler Breeze that having a beard doesn’t make you a man. I’ve seen teenagers with better facial hair. I did love the little dig at Forgotten Sons, but I don’t think Breeze really wants to pick a fight with Jaxson Ryker, that’s not going to end well.
Well, it looks like we’ll likely get a confrontation between Io Shirai and Candice LeRae next week, unfortunately for Kacy Catanzaro, she’s going to be Shirai’s punching bag before that.
I wasn’t really into KUSHIDA vs Apollo Crews. I’m just not a huge fan of either guy. The match was really good, but I don’ t think anyone really thought Crews was going to beat KUSHIDA, who is getting built into a title contender, but it was a longer match than Crews has been having for most of his WWE run, so there’s that.
I’m still not into Keith Lee, I just don’t get it, but I’m super stoked about the prospect of Lee vs Damian Priest, that promises to be a wild match.
So, it’s officially official, we WILL be getting Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano III and it sounds like it’s going to be the last one. I did like Gargano comparing his victory tour of trying to inspire young people in Cleveland with Cole’s obnoxious antics at the Gargano restaurant. Also, love the ‘Johnny Badass’ thing, very cool. NXT TakeOver: Toronto II is going to be a wild ride in that Three Stages of Hell match! Thank you, William Regal for booking that!
That’s it for Tiffany’s Belated NXT Takes! Tune in Monday for Monday Night RAW!