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Is Shinsuke Nakamura Right Where He Belongs In WWE?

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Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the top stars working in the pro wrestling business today. That’s due in large part of course to his proven track record in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it’s also due to his time in WWE. But some fans are wondering where he stands today.

Nakamura is a born entertainer, there is no denying that. He has the ability to turn on his charisma at the push of a button and it may very well be that he never turns it off. Shinsuke looks and acts like a star because he is one. He has a full understanding of how to play the game and very few play it better than he does. So is he right where he belongs?

Many would argue he’s not and that’s understandable. He was so hot in New Japan that imagining him as anything any less was impossible when he left the company. He was the rockstar of New Japan and he embraced that role like no one before him ever had. It was logical to assume that his success would directly translate to WWE’s main stage.

Of course that assumption was perhaps not rooted in reality. WWE didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to promoting Japanese Superstars. Then there was the fact that many independent talents were often encouraged to change their gimmicks upon arriving in Vince McMahon’s company. But there was reason to hope for the best.

This is not the same WWE that so many indie stars encountered in the past. This WWE embraced the independent scene and used that fact to its advantage. WWE does not force a guy to change who he is, merely for the sake of trying something new. In fact many Superstars are now extensions of their former selves. WWE allows them to bring what they have to the table so they can expand upon it.

It’s true that WWE’s treatment of Japanese talents has been less than stellar but Shinsuke Nakamura is an exceptionally gifted athlete. There was just no way that WWE, or any other company, could ever look at him and not see him for the star that he is. So if he’s allowed to be himself and if he’s given an opportunity to impress on the main event level, then what would stop him from excelling in WWE?

Shinsuke Nakamura came in like a star and that’s exactly how he was booked. WWE did right by him and much to everyone’s surprise, Shinsuke did get the red carpet treatment. He conquered NXT, just as many knew he would. But he also received an impressive amount of spotlight when he came to the main roster. 

Nakamura was presented as a respected athlete known around the world because that’s exactly what he is. The company knew what it had with him and any doubt as to WWE’s ability to properly book him was gone. This was the Shinsuke Nakamura that everyone wanted. He was the real deal.

But somewhere along the way, things began to go a bit south. Nakamura’s heel turn at WrestleMania 34 was shocking and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was completely out of character for him. Yes, Nakamura had been a vicious heel in New Japan. He was fully capable of turning on anyone at any time and he would do it with a smile on his face. However, that was The King of Strong Style. 

This Nakamura is The Artist. His canvass is the WWE ring and his artwork is beyond compare. Shinsuke was popular because he was different. He was over because he was unique. His flair for the dramatic set him apart from everyone else and it made him a must-see WWE Superstar. He was indeed an attraction.

But the moment he turned on AJ Styles was the moment he put the WWE Championship above his art. Nakamura was no longer an exceptional character capable of wowing an audience of millions. Now he was just another heel with an agenda. What made him special was overshadowed by what made him typical. Shinsuke was just like everyone else. But is that really the case?

Nakamura has thrived in many respects since WrestleMania 34. He was able to use a different side of his personality and he learned to get over in different ways. Instead of using his crowd-pleasing character to make the fans smile, he now uses it to make them recoil in confusion. What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like this? What happened to the lovable guy we once knew?

Now his character is more enigmatic than ever before. Was The Artist persona merely just a mask he wore to fool everyone and now he’s finally showing the world his true self? Is he now Batman when he previously had everyone believing he was Bruce Wayne? Shinsuke Nakamura is fully immersing himself in this twisted version that WWE fans didn’t even know existed. But most importantly, he’s loving every minute of it.

There’s a reason why Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States champion. That belt could have landed on any number of SmackDown Live Superstars but it currently sits on Nakamura’s waist. Why? Because he can wear it like no one else can and because he’s a Japanese Superstar that came to WWE with dreams of doing great work on the worldwide stage. That’s exactly what he’s doing and he doesn’t need the main event in order to do it. 

Would fans love to see him as WWE champion? Yes. Could he wear that title and add value to it? Absolutely. Does he need it in order for fans to consider him successful? Absolutely not. Shinsuke Nakamura may not be the top guy and he may not be the face of WWE but he is an important piece of the presentation. But is that enough?

The fact is that Nakamura will probably leave WWE one day. He will likely return to New Japan and reclaim his throne as The King of Strong Style. But until then, fans have a chance to enjoy one of the most colorful and capable characters that WWE offers today. He may get a run at the top eventually. If he does, then everything that came before will merely be just another chapter in his story. With any luck, that story is far from over.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Greg DeMarco: Box Office Brock Lesnar And The New WWE

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Brock Lesnar WWE Money In The Bank

After a hard-hitting WWE Money In The Bank, Greg DeMarco offers perspective on Brock Lesnar winning the Money In The Bank briefcase and the obvious shift in the WWE product & presentation.

I know you read that headline and wondered what in the hell I was smoking. Brock Lesnar leaves Hartford with the Money In The Bank briefcase, and I’m calling it a new WWE? I have to be insane, right? Well, that perspective is 100% wrong. (I mean…I may be insane–but not for that reason!) WWE Money In The Bank was shock and awe from start to finish, and you have every reason to be excited. The reactions I am seeing prove that the online community doesn’t want to enjoy WWE. Hopefully, for me, some mainstream fans will read this article too!

Box Office Brock Lesnar

I know what you’re thinking…same ol’ sh*t, right? I can’t say I agree. On the technicality side, Brock Lesnar has never held the Money In The Bank briefcase, so it’s wrong there. But I get it, you’re tired of seeing Brock on top. The truth of it is, he’s Box Office. And WWE needs box office.

What is “Box Office,” exactly? It’s the ability to get fans to spend money, which is how WWE makes money. Brock Lesnar sells the WWE product–to fans, to viewers, to advertisers, and to networks. Wrestling Twitter is a vocal minority, and appeasing them got WWE nowhere with WrestleMania 35, or as I was calling it for the months leading up to it, “HappyMania.” Brock is back, and I think it’s fantastic.

Disagree with me? Great, but the sold out crowd in Hartford blew the roof off the joint when his music hit, so they obviously agree. Brock will likely cash-in in advance, proclaiming his championship opportunity for WWE Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia on June 7. Then we get to give the briefcases a rest, as we continue to shuffle the rosters up and use fun words like Wild Card (bitches…yeehaw!).

One prevailing thought I have seen is that the other seven guys in the match busted their asses for no payoff. I can’t agree with that either–their payoff is a paycheck. They’re businessmen. Those who complain about how they are booked don’t get the business. And as All Elite Wrestling is proving, they don’t take too kindly to people complaining about booking, either.

A New WWE?

I know a lot of people don’t see it, because they’re too worried about booking. But the WWE product shifted tonight. And as dangerous as it is, I hope it sticks.

The product got way more physical at WWE Money In The Bank–way more physical. It started with the Women’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match, which in reality doesn’t need a gender specific distinction. Money In The Bank describes both ladder matches tonight, as both delivered in both brutality and story. Everyone put their bodies through hell during those matches, and they deserve to be praised.

But it didn’t end there:

  • Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe…brutality.
  • Shane McMahon vs. The Miz…brutality.
  • Tony Nese vs. Ariya Daivari…brutality.
  • The entire segment with the Women’s Championships…brutality.
  • Roman Reigns vs. Elias…brutality.
  • Seth Rollins vs. AJ Styles…brutality.
  • Lars Sullivan and The Lucha House Party…brutality.
  • Kofi Kingston vs. Kevin Owens…say it with me…brutality.

Sense a theme, here? WWE provided a more physical product, and did things that make sense. Yes, there were botches that everyone wants to blame on the refs. In each instance, it appeared to me that the talent messed up, and the commentators covered by blaming the officiating. And that makes sense to me. You didn’t think they were going to blame the wrestlers, did you?

It’s really funny that this comes after AEW reveals that they’ll present a more realistic, athletic oriented product after the onset of their TV deal. It’s probably the single bad move they’ve made (okay, maybe second to the whole PAC/Page ordeal), announcing their plans to the world and giving WWE a heads up on what’s coming so they can beat AEW to it.

Seriously, it’s like they went “Here’s our formula!” without even realizing WWE had a high profile PPV to air 6-days before Double Or Nothing. C’mon guys… #UseYourHead.

At the end, it looks WWE is going back to what works for them: giving the fans what they need, and not what they want. Imagine going to the doctor and misdiagnosing yourself. Would you rather the doctor provides you with what you want and now what you need? You’d sue that doctor for malpractice! It’s getting to be that same way with WWE. Prescribe to us what we need, Vince. Even if we don’t like the taste when it goes down, it’s for the best in the end.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 5/19/2019

Best of Super Juniors 26 and Money in the Bank are the big things this week. Let’s see what matches made the cut, and if there were any surprises!

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Best of Super Juniors 26 and Money in the Bank are the big things this week. Let’s see what matches made the cut, and if there were any surprises!

Last week was an interesting week since it wasn’t a normal Top 5 and we had two Sami Callihan matches. When it came down to it though, IMPACT: oVe Rules 8 Man: oVe vs Tommy Dreamer vs Fallah Bahh vs Rich Swann vs Willie Mack, won the vote for the week. I’m always a happy when less popular matches or companies get a fair shake in the rundown.

Either way, let’s see exactly how much New Japan shows up and if anything from Money in the Bank was worth a watch!

 

5. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: Ryusuke Taguchi vs YOH

Taguchi has been having a crisis of character so to speak. He’s become more of a comedy wrestler who’s history doesn’t really inject respect or fear into his opponents. YOH is up and coming, and was trained by Taguchi in the New Japan Dojo. So YOH is trying to establish himself beyond the tag realm and Taguchi is trying to refind himself.

We saw an interesting match. Taguchi showed a little of both worlds from comedy to more of his extensive moveset. YOH was a walking reference to older wrestlers; he even mastered the Paradise Lock apparently. Taguchi picks up the win with the variation of the Dodon that he used to remove Prince Devitt from New Japan. Very good match.

Winner: Taguchi via Dodon’s Throne

Rating: ****

 

4. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 4: Will Ospreay vs Rocky Romero

This was a little similar to the earlier Taguchi match. Rocky had something to prove. CHAOS members, and Rocky is perceived as being past his prime, but he wanted to prove he can still hang. It’s been 3 years since his last BOSJ, how does the most decorated Junior Tag wrestler fair against the Aerial Assassin?

We got a great match. Rocky had numerous hope spots, hit the Forever Lariats, his half of Strong Zero and reversed the Stormbreaker first attempt into a legit Huricanrana. Ospreay turned out too be just a little too big, a little too athletic and a Shooting Star Press followed by a Stormbreaker ends this great match. Very good.

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbringer

Rating: **** 1/4

 

3. IMPACT: Michael Elgin vs Rich Swann

From My Analysis:
So damn this main event went 2 commercial breaks, but it was really solid. Swann wouldn’t stay down and even had great hope spots. A Super Frankensteiner countering the Avalanche Powerbomb, Lethal Injection, 450, but Elgin kicked out. Swann tried a top rope Phoenix Splash, and missed. Elgin hits Splash Mountain, and Rich kicks out. Elgin rolls to the outside, catches Rich and repeatedly Powerbombs him into the post. Kid Ref tries to get the match back in the ring, Elgin pushes Kid Ref and Powerbombs Swann again for posterity. Kid Ref calls for the DQ and then runs for his life. This was a great match, the “non-finish” is rather annoying coming out of a roughly 25 minute match. But love him or hate him, Elgin can wrestle.

Winner: Swann via DQ

Rating: **** 1/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 3: Dragon Lee vs SHO
Winner: Dragon Lee via Desnucadora
Rating: ****
WWE MiTB: Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin vs Finn Balor vs Ricochet vs Andrade vs Randy Orton vs Ali vs Brock Lesnar
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 1: Dragon Lee vs Taiji Ishimori
Winner: Ishimori via Bloody Cross
Rating: *** 3/4
WWE MitB: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston (c) vs Kevin Owens
Winner: Kofi via Trouble in Paradise
Rating: *** 1/2
NXT UK: Ligero vs Jordan Devlin
Winner: Devlin via Snap Saito Suplex
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: Robbie Eagles vs Rocky Romero
Winner: Eagles via Ron Miller Special
Rating: ***
SmackDown Live: Randy Orton vs Finn Balor vs Andrade vs Ali
Winner: Andrade via Hammerlock DDT
Rating: ***
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 2: El Phantasmo vs Bandido
Winner: Phantsmo via Greetings from Chasewood Park
Rating: ***
205 Live: Tony Nese vs Ligero
Winner: Nese via Running Kneese
Rating: ***
WWE Raw: Fall Count Anywhere: Braun Strowman vs Sami Zayn
Winner: Zayn via Claymore
Rating: ***
NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 4: Ren Narita vs Robbie Eagles
Winner: Eagles via Turbo Backpack
Rating: ***
WWE MitB: The Usos vs Rowan & Daniel Bryan
Winner: Usos via Double Uce
Rating: ***

 

2. WWE MitB: Universal Championship: AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins (c)

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Now it’s Rollins who has to come up with something else to put Styles away. Fans rally up as Rollins stands. Rollins still has the tried and true, “Burn It Down!” He mule kicks then runs, but Styles dodges to roll Rollins to a Calf Crusher! Rollins endures but Styles cranks back hard! Rollins rolls it back and kicks Styles away! His leg is free but it is hurting! Styles crawls away but Rollins pursues. Styles hops up, moonsault DDT! Cover, TWO!! Rollins escapes with one good leg! Styles gets back up and waits for Rollins. Rollins stands and SUPERKICKS Styles down! Both men are down again, but fans rally and duel again. Styles and Rollins crawl for each other to start throwing hands! Rollins hits, Styles hits, repeat. Rollins CHOPS but Styles punches again.

Fans duel, Styles goes for the Phenomenal Blitz, but Rollins dodges to enziguri! And dodges the Pele! Mule kick! Curb Stomp countered! STYLES CLASH!! Cover, TWO!?! Rollins survives THE Styles Clash?! No one can believe it, but the fans are loving it! Styles grits his teeth as Rollins starts sitting up. Styles goes to the apron, takes aim and springboards. Phenomenal misses! Revolution Knee hits! And then, SUPERKICK! Styles is on his face, but Rollins gets back up! CURB STOMP!! Rollins put so much into that, he has to crawl to a cover! Rollins wins!!

Winner: Rollins via The Stomp

Rating: **** 1/4

 

1. NJPW BOSJ 26 Night 1: SHO vs Shingo Takagi

This match has had a great build all year. SHO is the power of Roppongi 3k, and throughout the LIJ and Roppongi feud for the Junior Tag Titles, we always saw SHO try to go at Shingo. Shingo called him out a little and this is a great rivalry. SHO has something to prove, but Shingo doesn’t want to be upstaged by someone who was a Young Boy only a few years ago.

We saw the story unfold beautifully. Shingo dominated early, until SHO fired up and showed he wasn’t just going to roll over. As the match progressed SHO started to anticipate Shingo’s moves and stay a step ahead. Both men hit all of their signature moves, and neither wanted to really budge. This was just so well done, and more of a heavyweight style because they are both bigger Juniors. Shingo edged out SHO by hitting Last of the Dragons after numerous Pumping Bombers. But damn this was great.

Winner: Shingo via Last of the Dragons

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Thoughts:

Shingo and SHO, there is no other answer. This has been a feud that started at the end of last year and persisted through the entire year so far. Long term booking is always fun, and when both men put on a great story telling match, it’s even better. Plus there’s no guarantee it’s over since SHO still has to surpass Shingo to feel completed.

Don’t sleep on Ospreay and Romero though, that was a great match, just didn’t quite match up to SHO and Shingo.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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