AJ Styles will defend the WWE Championship against the 2018 Royal Rumble winner, Shinsuke Nakamura, at WrestleMania 34 this Sunday.
Styles won the WWE Championship from Jinder Mahal on SmackDown Live in November 2017 and began campaigning to face Nakamura at WrestleMania. At a house show in Florence, Italy, Styles asked the crowd if they wanted to see him face Nakamura at WrestleMania to a rousing ovation. Only two months later, the ‘King of Strong Style’ eliminated Roman Reigns to win the Royal Rumble match before announcing his desire to challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship.
Despite reports of an injured knee, Styles is determined to have what he calls a “dream match” with Nakamura no matter what.
Styles vs. Nakamura has been presented as the hardcore fan’s dream match of this WrestleMania, with both men being among the best wrestlers in the world and having long careers before arriving in WWE. In January 2016, the ‘Phenomenal One’ challenged Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s Wrestle Kingdom 10 in what to date has been the only other singles match the two have had. The match was a classic and one of the best matches of both men’s careers. Nakamura was able to kick out of the Styles Clash, which is a very big deal in Japan as the move was New Japan’s most deadly finisher, before hitting a Kinshasa (then called the Bomaye) twice to defeat Styles in the semi-main event. This match became even more newsworthy when it was announced just one day later that both men were leaving the promotion to join WWE.
Following the announcement of the signing of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, many fans began longing for the day that the rematch would take place. The former made his debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble match before going on to feud with Chris Jericho, John Cena, and Kevin Owens. Later winning the WWE Championship for the first time at Backlash 2016 by defeating then-champion Dean Ambrose. He would go on to lose the title to John Cena at the 2017 Royal Rumble and wrestle Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33. Styles would then win the WWE Championship for the second time from Jinder Mahal before beginning the build to his match with Nakamura.
Nakamura took a different path to the WWE Championship match WrestleMania 34. The ‘Artist’ began his WWE tenure in NXT with an instant classic match against Sami Zayn at Takeover: Dallas before beginning his chase for the NXT Championship. After defeating Austin Aries and Finn Bálor, he went on to defeat then-champion Samoa Joe to win his first NXT Championship at Takeover: Brooklyn II. However, he would lose the title back to Joe before winning it for the last time at an NXT show in Japan in December 2016. Ultimately he would lose the championship to Bobby Roode at Takeover: San Antonio before leaving NXT for the main roster in April 2017. Over the summer of 2017 the ‘King of Strong Style’ would enter an uninspiring rivalry with Jinder Mahal before winning the Royal Rumble match in January 2018.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is a match that has been building since before both men signed with WWE. A legitimate dream match, Styles and Nakamura will almost certainly deliver a match of the show candidate, barring catastrophe. Styles is perhaps the best performer in WWE and is in the conversation for the best performer in the world. Nakamura is one of the world’s most charismatic wrestlers and, when given the opportunity. can wrestle with the best of them. The two of them will undoubtedly pull out all the stops to steal the show at WrestleMania 34.
Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
What do you think of this match? Will it top their last bout in NJPW? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter here.
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