clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Shinsuke Nakamura & AJ Styles both want to face each other in WWE and WrestleMania 33 is just sitting there, so...

Shinsuke Nakamura’s place in WWE has been debated since the Japanese star signed with the company in 2016. His time in NXT, where he’s already a two-time champion despite only having worked there for twelve months, is especially curious considering he left New Japan to come to work for Vince McMahon at roughly the same time AJ Styles did.

Styles, of course, debuted on the main roster at Royal Rumble 2016 and has already claimed a WWE title while becoming a fixture of SmackDown’s main event scene.

There may be a way to catch Nakamura up in a hurry, however. And both he and AJ have mentioned it recently...

In an interview with Yahoo Japan earlier this week (translation via Chris Charlton), Nakamura said he’d jump at a chance to move up and work the Showcase of the Immortals this year. He even has an opponent in mind (you can probably see where this is going):

If the [WrestleMania] opportunity presented itself, I want to do it. AJ doesn’t have an opponent yet, I’d like to fill that spot. I’ve acheived a lot this year, but there’s much more to do. I want to make more strides over the next year and show my true ability.

On television, Styles is still battling to earn a Mania shot at Bray Wyatt’s WWE World championship, and he kept to kayfabe when responding on Twitter. But there’s a quote from earlier - his appearance at the Portland Wizard World convention last weekend (Friday, Feb. 17) - that’s a bit more behind-the-scenes.

When asked which NXT star he’d want to face, AJ responded:

Oh man. I mean, can I say what everybody wants me to say? Nakamura. Yeah, I think that’s definitely going to happen in the near future and it’s only a matter of time until he makes it to WWE.

Even if he doesn’t end up facing Wyatt (and rumors suggest there’s still a chance that could happen), there’s long been word the Phenomenal One does, in fact, have a Mania opponent lined up. A Shane McMahon match would definitely attract the interest of casual fans, but it seems to draw a ton of ire from hardcore/internet ones.

It’s not like there’s zero justification for Styles/Nakamura. The company can vaguely refer to their 2016 match of the year candidate in the Tokyo Dome, just days before they joined the ‘E, at Wrestle Kingdom 10. A potential show-stealer with AJ would be a great introduction to the larger WWE Universe for Swagsuke, even if only whets their appetite as he finishes his business in NXT (he seems set for a rematch against Bobby Roode at TakeOver: Orlando the night before WM33).

And on a card rumored to be headlined by Goldberg & Brock Lesnar, which also features John Cena in mixed tag match, having a workrate-heavy bout like Nak/Styles would balance things out a great deal.

Sure, it’s just a pipe dream. But having both wrestlers publicly sounding like they’re on board gives us just enough inspiration to keep the dream alive.


Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats