It’s almost a year away, but Wrestlemania 34 is shaping up to have two massive main events for the WWE’s two main championships.
With Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns rumored to face each other in a Wrestlemania 31 rematch for the WWE Universal Champion — a match pitting the only two men to defeat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania — the WWE Championship will reportedly be defended in a match between two of SmackDown Live’s top stars.
Former WWE champion AJ Styles is expected to face recent main roster call-up Shinsuke Nakamura at Wrestlemania 34, according to SportsKeeda. The WWE dream bout was reportedly one of the reasons why Styles — who was heavily rumored to join RAW during last week’s roster shakeup — stayed with SmackDown Live.
The expectation is that Nakamura and Styles would be held far apart for most of the upcoming year and engage with each other once Wrestlemania season comes along. Styles won a No.1 contender’s bout last week and is set to face newest SmackDown Live star and the United States champion, Kevin Owens. Nakamura has yet to wrestle on the main roster, but after last week’s show, he appears headed for a match with Dolph Ziggler.
Styles and Nakamura are no strangers; they faced each other in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW). Their bout at Wrestle Kingdom 10 set the wrestling world ablaze, and less than three months later, both men were in the WWE system.
Nakamura has already lobbied for a match with Styles, telling Yahoo Japan several months ago, while Styles did not have a Wrestlemania 33 opponent, that he would love to fill that role.
If the [WrestleMania] opportunity presented itself, I want to do it. AJ doesn’t have an opponent yet, I’d like to fill that spot. I’ve acheived a lot this year, but there’s much more to do. I want to make more strides over the next year and show my true ability.
However, Styles went on to face Shane McMahon in the opening match of the event. Now, he will look to continue his dominance on SmackDown Live, where he has faced and defeated the likes of John Cena, Dean Ambrose, and The Miz. Styles has commented on his former NJPW adversary several times, telling an audience at a Portland Wizard World Convention in February about how they will likely fight inside a WWE ring at some point (via Cageside Seats).
“Oh man. I mean, can I say what everybody wants me to say? Nakamura,” he said. “Yeah, I think that’s definitely going to happen in the near future and it’s only a matter of time until he makes it to WWE.”
A year prior to that comment, Styles spoke to FOX Sports and gave his sterling opinion of the “King of Strong Style.”
“Shinsuke Nakamura is probably one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever been in the ring with,” Styles said.
“He’s very unorthodox. Everything he does is with knockout power. He’s a guy who is very flamboyant so don’t let his Michael Jackson antics fool you, this guy is deadly. He will knock you out. [He’s a] great athlete, can’t say enough great things about him.”
A lot can change between now and Wrestlemania: either man can suffer an injury, the company can go in a different direction, or Nakamura could simply not experience the same success on the main roster he enjoyed in NJPW and NXT. The former two-time NXT champion, however, is already a hit with the WWE Universe.
In the meantime, matches with other SmackDown Live stars including Randy Orton, Luke Harper, Kevin Owens, and others are possibilities for Nakamura.
[Featured Image by New Japan Pro Wrestling]