Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles put on an absolute classic match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 for New Japan Pro Wrestling in January of 2016. The event was widely considered one of the best overall wrestling shows, with the Nakamura-Styles match only being topped by the main event between Okada and Tanahashi. And as it turned out, it was Shinsuke and AJ’s last match with NJPW, as they departed for WWE shortly after.
Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson joined Styles and Nakamura by defecting as well, with the remaining members of the Bullet Club attacking AJ and anointing Kenny Omega as the new leader of the stable. Omega, of course, would go on to compete in one of the highest-rated matches of all time at Wrestle Kingdom 11 against Okada.
AJ Styles would make his WWE debut less than three weeks after Wrestle Kingdom 10 concluded, by virtue of his memorably surprising entry into the Royal Rumble match. Shinsuke Nakamura made his debut under the WWE umbrella in a match against Sami Zayn on the NXT Takeover: Dallas show during WrestleMania weekend last year. Styles would go on to have one of the greatest first years in company history while Nakamura has been a flag-bearer for the developmental brand.
There hasn’t been an official blueprint as to how long a particular superstar is supposed to perform in NXT before being called up to the main roster. Styles bypassed NXT altogether, while others like Nakamura, Finn Balor, and Samoa Joe had extended stays. Most felt their call-ups were long overdue, while Triple H and other NXT officials needed their star-power to further legitimize the brand.
The King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura, has had significant programs in NXT with Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, and Bobby Roode, but fans are still waiting for him to be elevated to the big stage. And speaking of stages, the grandest one of them all awaits the WWE roster in the form of WrestleMania 33 on April 2 in Orlando.
NXT will also produce its next special event the night before WrestleMania with NXT Takeover: Orlando. It’s unclear still if Nakamura will be on the card, but the main event will certainly feature Roode and perhaps Kassius Ohno. However, it seems Shinsuke has his sights set higher, with an eye on facing The Phenomenal One, AJ Styles, at WrestleMania, as covered by Wrestling Inc.
“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 achieved 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.”
Styles quickly caught wind of Nakamura’s comments. While many fans desperately want to see AJ Styles against Shinsuke Nakamura in a WWE ring, AJ seemed to quickly diffuse the idea by reacting on Twitter, albeit in character.
@ShinsukeN how's this? Sorry, but I do have a match at Wrestlemania. N fact, I'll be headlining Wrestlemania after tonight.— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) February 21, 2017
AJ is referring to the big SmackDown main event scheduled for tonight, which will see Styles and nine other superstars compete in a Battle Royal to determine a new number one contender for Bray Wyatt and the WWE Championship.
It’s unclear if Shinsuke Nakamura follows the dirt sheets and wrestling rumor mills, as AJ Styles has been rumored to square off with Shane McMahon at WrestleMania for several weeks now. It’s still a match that, as of this writing, has yet to be confirmed, but by the process of elimination, it appears inevitable. There has been a mild sense of backlash to the Shane-Styles proposition, while the idea of Nakamura and AJ has fans singing a completely different tune.
As of now, however, Shinsuke Nakamura is not scheduled to debut on the WWE main roster until the night after WrestleMania at the earliest.
[Featured Image by New Japan Pro Wrestling]