In a few short hours, John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura will face off on Smackdown in what some have described as a dream match. Certainly it has most fans amazed that a PPV quality match up of this type is happening on Smackdown. Whilst rumour has it that this may not be the last time they share a ring, I wanted to share my thoughts on why in my opinion Cena must put Nakamura over.
I was lucky enough to be in Dallas, TX when Nakamura made his debut. I got tickets the day of, but thats a whole other story for another time. I had heard bits and pieces about the King of Strong Style. I had awareness of him mainly through his match of the year with AJ Styles at Wrestle Kingdom 9. I really wanted to be at NXT, it was being hyped up as having perhaps an even better card than Wrestlemania the following day. In truth, I was most excited about Balor v Samoa Joe, but Sami Zayn vs Nakamura was incredible. Later voted match of the year, I was captivated from the first minute. From the entrance music to his mannerisms, here was a wrestler who appeared to have everything. After 20 pulsating minutes, with near fall after near fall, Nakamura emerged victorious. The two men, rivals that night only, embraced after the bell. I had just witnessed the best wrestling match of my life so far, and the WWE debut of what I believed to be a future superstar.
In the coming weeks and months, Nakamura continued his career in NXT. He had fantastic matches against Samoa Joe, winning the NXT championship in the process. He lost, and then regained the title, winning it back in Osaka, Japan. He eventually lost the NXT title to Bobby Roode in San Antonio, a match almost more notable for its fantastic entrances than its fantastic wrestling. However many believed that it was only a matter of time until he was called up to the main roster. His title loss meant to some that he would appear at the Royal Rumble. This was not to be the case. He continued in NXT, attempting to regain the championship, but to no avail. Again he was rumoured to appear at Wrestlemania, potentially replacing Shane McMahon and facing AJ Styles, in a rematch from Wrestle Kingdom. However Shane did indeed face Styles in what turned out to be a much better match than many expected.
Fans didn’t need to wait much longer for Strong Style to arrive. Finally, Nakamura made his main roster debut, appearing on the Smackdown after Wrestlemania 33. He interrupted the Miz, and later had a dark match against Dolph Ziggler. He has since followed this up with PPV matches against Ziggler and Baron Corbin. He also appeared in the Money in the Bank ladder match, teasing a face off with AJ Styles, the first such meeting in a WWE ring, and surely not the last.
Despite all this build up, so far Nakamura has been a little lacklustre on the main roster. With some suggesting that he will always struggle to get over when poor on the mic, rumours have already started that he may have already decided that his time in the US is limited and may head home. Lance Storm and Paul Lazenby speculated as much on their podcast, Killing The Town with Storm and Cyrus, “As for Nakamura, I’m starting to think that perhaps he has already scratched ‘wrestle for WWE’ off his bucket list and now he’s putting in time, cashing checks, and already planning his return to New Japan.”
WWE cannot allow this to happen. With WWE struggling for star power, they would be wise to push Nakamura, whose talent and charisma is obvious and to be embraced. This should start today, where he should go over Cena, and go on to face Jinder Mahal at Summerslam. Whilst many have speculated that there will not be a clean finish and may lead to a triple threat, it is important that Nakamura is made to look like the superstar that he is, and can be, for WWE. They should remember that they brought him in for a reason, and the appeal and potential merchandising opportunities would certainly rival Cena’s at his peak. His Time is Over, Nakamura’s Time is Now.