The past number of years, the Raw after WrestleMania has become known for being a wild spectacle with an out-of-control crowd, unexpected storyline twists, returns, and debuts. This year, with the brand split now in effect, many fans wondered what SmackDown Live the next night would have to offer. Well, on Tuesday night, the WWE Universe got their answer.
Not only did we witness the debut of “The Perfect Ten” Tye Dillinger, who answered an open challenge from Curt Hawkins, but we also saw the long-awaited main roster debut of “The King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura.
Nakamura made a name for himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling, where he held the IWGP Heavyweight Championship three times, the IWGP Tag Team Championship with Hiroshi Tanahashi once, and lifted the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to prominence over the span of five different reigns. He started drawing comparisons to Michael Jackson and Freddy Mercury for his flamboyant style, but also possessed enough substance to earn the “King of Strong Style” moniker. With this combination, the endearing Nakamura became one of the biggest stars not only in NJPW, but in all of professional wrestling as well.
Then, in early 2016, Nakamura shockingly left his native Japan and debuted during WrestleMania weekend for NXT. He stole the show with Sami Zayn on his debut night in Dallas, Texas, and went on to become a two-time NXT Champion.
Following his loss to Bobby Roode at NXT Takeover: Orlando on Saturday night, many fans speculated that his main roster debut was imminent. And as it turned out, they were correct. Nakamura interrupted The Miz and Maryse imitating their WrestleMania opponents of 48 hours prior, John Cena and Nikki Bella.
It’s been reported for a while that Cena and his fiancee would be taking time off following WrestleMania, Cena to pursue outside projects and Nikki to heal up from a lingering neck injury. So, to toss Shinsuke Nakamura into a feud with The Miz immediately made perfect sense.
The Miz, in the opinion of many, has been doing the best work of his career since the brand split took effect last summer. His storylines with Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, General Manager Daniel Bryan, and most recently the aforementioned Cena have been one of the highlights of the blue brand’s show each week, so there should be little doubt in his ability to give Shinsuke a strong program to begin his WWE career.
The primary and really lone concern with Shinsuke in WWE has been the state of his English. However, it isn’t as limited as the English of many past superstars from Japan, and he has so much charisma that he doesn’t need to speak much anyway. Nonetheless, being paired with such a strong talker couldn’t hurt. Miz can do the majority of the talking, then Nakamura gets even when he shuts his mouth via his patented Kinshasa. In my opinion, it could make for a compelling first feud for Nakamura, and keep The Miz in the spotlight after a somewhat marquee WrestleMania match.
While the Superstar Shakeup next week could change things, currently there’s a nice group of guys for Shinsuke Nakamura to work with on SmackDown Live: his once Wrestle Kingdom opponent AJ Styles, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, and the WWE Champion Randy Orton, among others. The possibilities are absolutely mouth-watering.
It’s debuts like this one, though, that makes the days following WrestleMania as compelling as the event itself. Now, we have a litany of fresh matches in store for us in the months to come. And Shinsuke Nakamura will be part of many of them.
[Featured Image by WWE]