Shinsuke Nakamura is without a doubt still one of the very best wrestlers in the world today, and he has been for a very long time. His arrival in NXT and the WWE in 2016 came as a shock but also came with incredible promise and potential; unfortunately on the main roster, and by no fault of his own, he is yet to live up to any of that hype.
Let me preface this by saying, you’ll be far-fetched to find a bigger fan of Shinsuke Nakamura than me. A 3 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, a 5 time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, an IWGP Tag Team Champion, a G1 Climax Winner, New Japan Cup Winner, multiple 5-star matches, Matches of the Year among others, Nakamura has done nearly everything there is to do outside of the WWE and has made himself one of the biggest stars in wrestling; however for those who have not followed his career in NJPW, and are purely fans of WWE only, not even including NXT, he simply isn’t anything special.
Coming in as arguably the hottest signing of the 2016 summer (including AJ Styles), Shinsuke Nakamura felt like a big deal immediately and his debut match at NXT Takeover Dallas against Sami Zayn is undoubtedly one of the very best in the brands short but rich history, and probably the best match of that entire Wrestlemania 32 weekend. His NXT run was incredible; spending a year in developmental he had classic matches against Samoa Joe, Bobby Roode, and Finn Balor and quickly became a two-time NXT Champion.
His arrival on Smackdown Live two nights after Wrestlemania 33 felt like the biggest thing in the world, and unfortunately things quickly fell from there. Even from the very beginning, he debuted making his entrance interrupting the Miz, and then did absolutely nothing, only to leave the ring immediately and never confront the Miz again. From there his first feud was with Dolph Ziggler, again with incredible promise and potential but instead of showcasing Nakamura’s talents against perhaps the best seller in the company, Nakamura spent most of his debut match getting thrown around by Ziggler, only to make a quick come back and win a short, underwhelming match.
The King of Strong Style went on to have an underwhelming feud with Baron Corbin of all people, and while he did have a great moment with AJ Styles at Money in the Bank (the match we all want to see), he still spent half of that match sitting backstage after being taken out early, only to return. Nakamura did win huge dream-matches against both John Cena & Randy Orton, but these both were only on Smackdown Live TV and couldn’t even be saved for a big PPV build, but instead were thrown together to feed to the worst thing to happen to Nakamura to date, Jinder Mahal.
The Artist known as Shinsuke Nakamura (I can move past that awful nickname) is now stuck in an awful feud with WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, where he is hardly seen on TV in any great light, and spends Smackdown Live as the subject of Mahal’s awful, racist jokes. Nakamura was beaten by the worst member of 3MB at Summerslam for the WWE Championship in a short, underwhelming match, where the finish was almost identical to the underwhelming finishes we saw in Mahal’s matches against Randy Orton courtesy of the Singh Brothers.
Aside from perhaps the two matches against John Cena & Randy Orton, and perhaps that one moment in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match with AJ Styles, in 6 months on the main roster Shinsuke Nakamura has done absolutely nothing of interest, and the majority of WWE fans who do not follow New Japan & don’t even follow NXT, have no reason to care about Nakamura, nor to be excited about anything he does apart from a flashy entrance with a violin.
We can only hope Nakamura has a stand out performance at Hell in a Cell and win or lose can move on from this Jinder Mahal feud; there is no doubt the King of Strong Style is still one of the very best in the world, and hopefully he gets the chance to shine and become the mega-star we all know and hope he can be.