Shinsuke Nakamura challenged AJ Styles for the WWE Championship on Sunday at WWE WrestleMania 34. Was he victorious in his quest for the title?
There are few wrestlers in the world who can match the skill and charisma of current WWE Champion AJ Styles. However, his opponent on Sunday night at WrestleMania 34 is one of the few that can: Shinsuke Nakamura. After winning the 2018 Royal Rumble, Nakamura was seemingly destined to clash with Styles, thus setting up a dream match between two of the world’s best.
Early on in the action, there was an obvious blend of tension and respect between these two men in the ring. Both wanted to clearly leave their mark on WrestleMania 34, but neither wanted to give up too much ground early on in the match.
However, once they got into a groove, they wasted little time getting after one another. They traded strikes and Styles tried to pick up the pace a little bit. In doing so, though, he was met by a wicked kick to the upper body from Nakumara that set the tone early.
Physicality was certainly the name of the game early on and, despite some hefty blows being landed by both parties, neither seemed able to grab complete control. Styles seemed to have the upper hand early, but Nakamura was able to turn the tables soon after with a nifty counter on the outside and then several high-flying kicks that landed flush.
The King of Strong Style then began to live up to his name, getting in some serious offense and feeding off of the energy of the crowd in the Superdome. He got Styles laid up across the top turnbuckle and hit his patented big knee, but then hit a nasty suplex. Just when it appeared he might really run away with this one, though, Styles countered to recover and landed a massive facebuster.
That opened a slight window for Styles to get back on the offensive and he took advantage, pulling no punches in trying to wear down the challenger with some wicked offense.
After a bit more attacking, Styles fought off a few counters from Nakamura and seemed ready to land a big Phenomenal Forearm. Nak was ready for it though, and was able to pick the champ off of the top rope and hit a massive landslide that was almost good enough for a three count, but Styles just barely got the shoulder up.
The back-and-forth jockeying for control continued, as Styles was soon able to get his wits back and turn the tables, starting with the Calf Crusher, which Nakamura had to give his all to try and escape after a rough landing on his leg earlier in the match. That’s when he was able to go out and hit the Phenomenal Forearm, which looked as if it might end the match. It wasn’t enough, however, as Nakamura kicked out somehow.
Styles continued to work on Nakamura and the challenger seemed absolutely broken down by everything that was being thrown at him.
However, Nakamura somehow found a last bit of strength that seemed like it might be enough to win him the title. He landed several blows to Styles, including a massive knee to the back of the head.
When he looked for the Kinshasa though, it came up empty and Styles was able to recover and counter. In doing so, the challenger seemed out of it and indeed he was. The champ was able to hit the Styles Clash and keep Nak down for the 1-2-3. But things weren’t done there.
After the bell, there was an embrace between the two men and it seemed as if we were in for a huge, sentimental moment in the middle of the ring with Styles and Nakamura. This seemed even more true as the King of Strong Style knelt to hand Styles his title. That’s when it happened, though — the heel turn. Nakamura unfurled a low-blow on Styles that shocked the world.
After several kicks, it seemed like Nakamura might be leaving. But as he saw Styles leaving the ring, the challenger came back for a massive Kinshasa to again rock the world of wrestling.
We’ll certainly have to see what’s next to come with this newfound mean streak of Nakamura and to see if Style has any type of retaliation in mind.