Shinsuke Nakamura spent weeks cutting mysterious promos aimed at a certain someone. It wasn’t clear who Nakamura was talking about at first. Then, we finally got our answer when he attacked Cody Rhodes and sprayed red mist in Rhodes’ face after The American Nightmare declared that he was entering the Royal Rumble match.
That set up a main event showdown between the two on the Dec. 11 edition of Raw. But instead of Rhodes getting a decisive win over his latest tormentor, Nakamura got himself disqualified after spewing red mist in Rhodes’ face once more. Despite being rescued by the Creed Brothers, Rhodes was flattened in the aisleway, courtesy of a sneaky Kinshasa by Nak.
As Raw faded to black, announcer Michael Cole had the perfect line to close the show:
“Every time Cody keeps trying to write another chapter in his story, yet another obstacle is thrown in his way.”
One of the knocks on Rhodes’ championship campaign at WrestleMania 39 was that he hadn’t faced enough adversity. Since then, Rhodes went to war with Brock Lesnar and got into it with Judgment Day. Now, rather than beat Nakamura straight away, Rhodes finds himself in another extended saga that will continue to build support for Rhodes, making his eventual WWE Championship win that much more satisfying for his fans.
Meanwhile, Shinsuke Nakamura is having a career resurgence. Ever since going rogue and challenging Seth Rollins for the World title, Nak has become one of WWE’s most destructive characters. He’s gone from obscurity to becoming a key player on Raw. While he’ll likely end up putting Rhodes over, Nak’s recent work has relit his star power, bringing back an air of credibility that his character had long been missing.
And then there are the Creed Brothers. Since coming to the main roster, Brutus and Julius have made a name for themselves in short order. On this episode of Raw, not only did they save Rhodes, but they also rescued R-Truth from a Judgment Day beatdown earlier in the night. It may seem small, but the fact that the Creeds rolled up as Cody’s protectors in the main event suggests that WWE has big plans for the brother duo.
While disqualification finishes are usually something to frown on, WWE got it right with Rhodes and Nakamura on Monday night. Crowd support for Rhodes continues to grow as he faces a rejuvenated Nakamura, a dangerous opponent who threatens to rob him of his dreams. And an upstart tag team, the Creeds, got some extra rub in the process.
As angles go, this was classic pro wrestling at its finest, positioning four superstars for prominent roles and storylines in the near future.