I’m certainly not the first to notice this, as it’s made the rounds on social media, but it’s absolutely worth pointing out.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Samoa Joe sure have come a long way in a short time in WWE.
At this time last year the two were in NXT, gearing up for a title match at the TakeOver: Brooklyn II event. Both were well traveled, extremely talented, legitimate stars of professional wrestling but there was still some doubt over their future in WWE, namely whether they would ever make it to the main roster and, if they did, what would happen once they got there.
Joe showed up as muscle for Triple H, immediately legitimately injured Seth Rollins, got sort of lost in the shuffle for a minute, but quickly rebounded with a surprise victory in a number one contender match. That led to a far better than expected program with Brock Lesnar and a solid match for the Universal championship in the main event of Great Balls of Fire. It was all so good, in fact, that he, originally thought to be a transition guy just to get to the next feud for the champ, was kept around the scene and booked as part of a Fatal 4-Way for the title at SummerSlam.
Nakamura, meanwhile, arrived with great fanfare in video form but, some would argue, was immediately booked poorly by way of throwing him in with the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin for a few unmemorable matches. Then, almost out of the blue, he was booked to defeat John Cena clean to earn a WWE championship match against Jinder Mahal at SummerSlam.
Last year, they Joe and Nakamura were wrestling each other for the NXT title.
This year, they’re both wrestling for the main championship on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, respectively.