The WWE Universe was shocked when A.J. Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE title at Wrestlemania. The Universe was even more floored when Nakamura hit Styles with a low blow, signifying a heel turn.
Nakamura never fully explained his actions on why he attacked Styles on the Smackdown Live after Wrestlemania. He merely offered an apology.
When he was asked why he did it, the King of Strong Style added “sorry, no speak English,” in a mocking tone.
Later in the evening, Nakamura solidified his heel turn by interrupting the dream match between Styles and former Smackdown General Manager-turned superstar Daniel Bryan. He low-blowed Styles twice, then hit Bryan with a Kinshasa.
It appears Nakamura’s program will continue with Styles and it will likely lead to another title bout at Extreme Rules.
This is the first time WWE fans will see Nakamura as a heel, and it could fall flat or it could lead to some big things for the King of Strong Style.
This is the first time Nakamura has been a heel since he started in WWE. He was a face during his entire NXT run, as well as his first year on Smackdown Live.
However, this isn’t the first time Nakamura has resorted to heel tactics. In 2009, while working for New Japan Pro Wrestling, Nakamura turned heel to side with former Great Bash Heel members to form the Chaos stable. This turn led to him becoming the King of Strong Style and resulted in great success, including a plethora of IWGP championships and epic matches with the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe and Yugi Nagata.
Nakamura’s heel turn could result in the same success if he is invested in making his new persona work.
There are aspects Nakamura needs to work on in order to make this heel character successful. He has some work to do when it comes his language barrier and promos – and he has progressed since his NXT run. But he’ll need to continue to work on it, or at least have someone as a manager – like a Paul Heyman or a Zelina Vega.
Another way for him to be over as a heel is for him to channel that menacing wrestler who was mericlous when he fought his opponents. Nakamura needs to find a way to be that character but also have the fans boo him when he does it. The difficult aspect of being a heel in today’s wrestling – especially on WWE’s main roster – is fans will cheer you even if you are a bad guy and doing dastardly things.
However, having him work heel with fan favorites like Styles and Bryan and disrupting their dream match is a good start for Nakamura garnering heel heat.
WWE will also need to invested in a heel Nakamura. The company has not had a good track record of promoting International superstars, especially heels, like Cesaro, Rusev and Wade Barrett. The exceptions to this would be Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Then there are International stars like Jinder Mahal and Sheamus, who have had success but fans have not taken to them on their own – the Celtic Warrior recently got over with the crowd due to his amazing tag team work with fan favorite Cesaro.
However, Nakamura turning heel has perhaps propelled him to the top heel spot on Smackdown Live and having a babyface Styles could potentially make their next match better than Wrestlemania. Part of what made their match at Wrestle Kingdom 10 a classic was a heel Styles versus a babyface Nakamura.
Nakamura’s main roster run was luke warm up until he won the 2018 Royal Rumble.
Is there a chance Nakamura’s heel turn could tank? Probably, but it could be the best thing for his career. Fans will just have to wait and see.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? December 10, 2018
For Raw, their main event was between Seth Rollins and Baron Corbin in a TLC match for the Intercontinental championship and it was a great match to end the show. It had some crazy spots and was intriguing from start to finish. To make things even more interesting, Heath Slater’s story of him being a referee played into this as well and questions what lies ahead with him too. Rollins ended up winning so the championship match with Dean Ambrose at TLC is still on.
For Smackdown, the opening match between Daniel Bryan and Mustafa Ali was as good as it sounds. Along with that, they had a promo before their match started in where Daniel Bryan picked on Ali and ended up slapping him right in the face. Bryan ended up winning after applying the heel hook,which may be his new finishing submission since he has been doing that the past few weeks. After the match, Bryan proceeded to attack Ali even more on the entrance ramp, giving him all the momentum in his title match against AJ Styles.
For Raw, it seems a little crazy that they are trying to embrace that their ratings are at an all time low. To open the show, Seth Rollins had some things to get off his chest towards Baron Corbin. In his rant,he stated that the ratings were at an all time low and that the recent shows have been bad because of Corbin. While it is a good way for management to look bad, it still looks bad to address the bad numbers and try to think of a bailout reason to address why that is.
For Smackdown, the rap battle between the Bar and the Usos was bad and good at the same time. While it was pretty humorous to see the Bar try their best Vanilla Ice impersonation, the whole concept of having a rap battle is what made it bad. While it did help build up the tag team championship match at TLC, their could’ve been another route WWE could’ve gone.
The Final Verdict
With TLC being this Sunday, both brands needed to put on good shows to get fans prepared for the PPV. Both shows did give a lot of time building it up, but things feel a lot smoother on Smackdown compared to Raw. Smackdown has done a really good job of putting time into their championship matches along with things just meant for their show. A prime example of this is giving proper build up for the WWE Championship match while at the same time wanting fans to turn in every week to see where things go for the Miz and Shane McMahon as the Miz keeps trying to get Shane on his side. Due to this,Smackdown had the better show this week and overall had a really good build for all of their matches at TLC. In conclusion, the matches for Smackdown have all the momentum going into TLC.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? December 3, 2018
For Raw, the segment and match featuring Drew McIntyre is the best thing going for this show right now. After Baron Corbin decided to honor McIntyre by giving him a medal, Dolph Ziggler interrupted the presentation to ask for some credit for Drew’s rise to the top. McIntyre stated that he used Ziggler, which irritated Ziggler and led to a match. The match was great too and Ziggler surprisingly won after getting an assist from Finn Balor. Overall, this was a good story told to help get some spotlight for the Balor vs. McIntyre match for TLC as well as solidify the split between Ziggler and McIntyre.
For Smackdown, they did a good job of putting a lot of time into building up the WWE Championship match between Daniel Bryan and AJ Styles for TLC. First, they had Daniel Bryan guest star on Miz TV, which led to a brawl between Styles, Bryan, and the Miz too. This then led to a match between AJ Styles and the Miz in the main event of the show. The match was pretty good and ended when the Miz hit the skull crushing finale on Styles after a Bryan distraction. Then, after the match, Daniel Bryan beat up Styles even more and yelled at the crowd to end the show.
For Raw, we had another repeat match between Lucha House Party and the Revival and it just felt like filler. This has been the 3rd week in a row they have had this match and it has been the same result every time. The same thing over and over again tends to get boring after almost a month.
For Smackdown, they honestly did not have anything bad on their show. They gave time to feature a rivalry for each championship they have going as well as rivalries that they have just been building up through their show.
The Final Verdict
Both shows did put a lot of effort into building up TLC this week. Smackdown’s stories have more intrigue than Raw’s though. With that said, Smackdown ended up having the better show this week. A lot of focus was on their championship matches going into the PPV and when a brand puts a lot of time into their championships, they have a bigger feel to them. While Raw, on the other hand, doesn’t even have competition for their tag team championships anymore and we still have the same problem with the Universal Championship that we had a year ago. In conclusion, Smackdown is still doing everything right going into TLC while Raw is just coasting by.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw: Who won this week? November 26, 2018
For Raw, the opening segment and match was entertaining. Baron Corbin was with Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley to open up the show and Corbin was emphasizing that when he becomes the permanent GM, you are either with him or against him. This brought out Elias, who made fun of everybody in the ring and said that anybody but Corbin would be a good fit for a GM. This then led to a match between Bobby Lashley and Elias, in where Lashley won because Corbin decided to make a last second adjustment in the match and make it a no DQ match, which led to the three guys all beating up Elias.
For Smackdown, they had a celebration for Jeff Hardy and his 20 years with WWE and Smackdown. They produced a great video and had the entire roster out to celebrate. But, then Samoa Joe came out and crashed the party. Joe went into Hardy’s past trouble with alcohol and drugs and already started this rivalry out on a personal note. That is what Samoa Joe does best with his rivals and this rivalry with Jeff Hardy is already out to a great start.
For Raw, they hosted a Intercontinental Championship open with Seth Rollins and while these are enjoyable most of the time, this week didn’t work out. The main reason being is because Rollins defended his championship this week against Dolph Ziggler, which feels like the millionth time. For as many people that they have on the Raw roster, to not have other than Dolph Ziggler be the one to face off against Rollins is a total lack of creativity from WWE.
For Smackdown, they had a segment where the Big Show decided to end things with the Bar and it fell flat. The main reason is because they didn’t even make this a main point on the show. Instead they just showed a quick backstage segment that was filmed before the show even started where Cesaro was upset with Big Show for not helping last week, only to take a KO Punch. This could’ve been made a bigger deal considering the Big Show was the whole reason that the Bar was tag team champions, but for some reason WWE doesn’t want to give the tag team division proper attention.
The Final Verdict
Overall, Raw was very bad this week while Smackdown was very good. For being the “superior show” after winning at Survivor Series, you would think WWE would be able to have better plans laid out for Raw. Instead, we get repeat matches or filler matches and segments that just don’t feel intriguing. While Smackdown, on the other hand, has great build up for TLC and gives the proper time to each rivalry they are trying to push. With all that said, Smackdown won this week by a landslide and have all the momentum going forward right now.
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