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.