Is Shinsuke Nakamura’s ‘SmackDown’ Debut A ‘Game-Changer’ For WWE Network? [Opinion]

Last night Shinsuke Nakamura made his long-awaited main roster debut when he joined WWE SmackDown Live! The post WrestleMania WWE shows are always fascinating, but that seems to be truer than ever this year. WrestleMania 33 had the feel of the changing of the guard, The Undertaker retired, whilst Triple H and Shane McMahon were defeated by current stars. As poignant as The Undertaker’s retirement was, it points to the fact that the winds of change are blowing through the WWE network. Nowhere was that more in evidence than when Shinsuke Nakamura appeared on SmackDown Live.

As reported on the official WWE website, Monday Night Raw had its own post WrestleMania drama. Finn Balor finally returned from injury, teaming up with Seth Rollins to defeat Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. Of course, WrestleMania 33 saw the return of the Hardy Boyz to the Raw brand, just one day after their previous contract expired. Those are exciting developments on the Raw side of the WWE split, but, as always seems to be the case in recent times, the most significant developments came on SmackDown Live.

SmackDown Shinsuke Nakamura
(Image by WWE)

AJ Styles has been a huge hit since he joined SmackDown, but by adding both Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger to the Blue Team, the WWE have added stars who may just prove to be game-changers for the WWE network. When a new superstar steps up to the WWE main roster, it is easy to assume they are newcomers to the sport. That is far from true in Nakamura’s case. Nakamura is a multiple champion on the New Japan Pro Wrestling circuit, he has been a professional wrestler for 15 years. Nakamura has also competed in Mixed Martial Arts, so he is a very experienced competitor.

Nakamura is also a big guy. He stands 6-foot-2, and weighs in at 230 pounds. In short, Shinsuke Nakamura will be a handful for any wrestler on the WWE roster.

Is Shinsuke Nakamura Replacing AJ Styles On SmackDown Live?

As reported by Forbes, Nakamura is one of the world’s most accomplished and entertaining wrestlers and he has been the face of the NXT brand since he joined it. For his part, Tye Dillinger impressed at the 2017 Royal Rumble, and he has been a mainstay on the developmental roster for years. Dillinger actually made his SmackDown debut in the ring, when he accepted a challenge from Curt Hawkins. Nakamura’s debut was more low-key but just as dramatic.

Another of last year’s SmackDown success stories, The Miz, was in the ring, lamenting his tag team loss to John Cena and Nikki Bella at WrestleMania 33. As The Miz wrapped up the crowd went crazy as Nakamura’s music started up. Many in the WWE universe have questioned why it has taken so long to get Nakamura onto the main roster, so his arrival sent tremors through the Blue Brand.

Nakamura Shinsuke SmackDown
(Image by WWE)

Nakamura joining SmackDown Live is a fascinating decision by the WWE. There is every reason to believe that Nakamura will provide a boost to SmackDown’s viewing figures. The gap between SmackDown and Monday Night Raw has been narrowing for some time. Nakamura might just be the man responsible for us seeing SmackDown eclipse the flagship Raw show for the foreseeable future.

Of course, it is tempting to jump to conclusions, but on this week’s Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon did announce a “superstar shakeup.” That could mean that Nakamura has been drafted to SmackDown as a replacement for AJ Styles. Cageside Seats reported that Styles dropped a heavy hint that this could be the case yesterday. Styles tweeted that “a superstar shake-up” could be a phenomenal opportunity.

In many ways, Nakamura would be an ideal replacement for Styles, who is widely regarded as the world’s best wrestler. Nakamura is stylish and flamboyant, and he will bring an added dash of flair to the SmackDown brand. There is no question that the WWE sees Monday Night Raw as its flagship program, it makes sense for Styles to be on that brand. Be honestly, who doesn’t want to see the “Phenomenal One” take on the “Big Dog?”

[Featured Image by WWE]