Ever since his debut match at NXT Takeover: Dallas, fans have wanted nothing more than to see more of the Japanese phenom known as Shinsuke Nakamura. He brought his infamous hard hitting style, he is known as The King of Strong Style for a reason, and it’s left the WWE Universe watering at the mouth thinking of the possibilities that lay ahead. Whether he stays in NXT for a while to get used to the “WWE Style” or is hot shotted to the main roster is anyone’s guess, but there is one thing that we know for sure, his potential list of opponents is enough to get all of us excited.
Nakamura had accomplished everything there was to accomplish in New Japan, so he made the bold decision to leave his homeland, and the fans that adored him above all else, to venture into the unknown waters of the WWE. While the company hasn’t had a great history of using Japanese (or any nationality really) wrestlers to their full potential, there isn’t much reason to worry when it comes to Shinsuke Nakamura. The man is one of the most talented in ring workers in the whole world and simply oozes so much charisma that it’ll be impossible for the folks in charge not to take notice.
Whenever Shinsuke steps foot in the ring, fan anticipation increases ten fold as they know that they’re about to witness something that is once in a lifetime. The sky is the limit for someone like Nakamura, as the things he’s capable of both inside and outside of the squared circle is the stuff that legends are made of and hopefully we’re about to witness him truly become one.
The only guy on the roster who can compete with Roman Reigns in terms of producing stand out brawls is Sheamus. Looking back at his pre-Mohawk days, the unbelievably hard hitting contests he produced against the likes of Cesaro should get fans, no matter how bored of him they are, excited for the potential of this contest. There’s a possibility that we can see The King of Strong Style in one corner staring down The Celtic Warrior, with each man’s intent solely being to maul the other, when he debuts on the main roster. The bright red welts left on Sheamus after the contest will be worth the price of admission alone. Sheamus would be a good opening opponent for The King Of Strong Style once he debuts on the main roster.
14. Dolph Ziggler
A lot of the luster has certainly worn off of this star, but there’s one thing that Ziggler has always been better than everyone else in the company at and that’s making his opponent look like a million bucks. Whether he’s going up against a total jobber or a main event star, Dolph will always do whatever he can to make their offense look like it’s the most brutal thing he’s ever experienced in his life. If you put Ziggler in there against someone whose offense already looks like it could send someone to the hospital, like Mr. Nakamura, and the end result will be Dolph bumping around the ring like a mad man before, perhaps literally, getting turned inside out by the Kinshasa.
13. Big E
What tends to get lost in the shuffle whenever people discuss the greatness that is The New Day is the incredible strides that Big E has made as a performer since his days as AJ Lee’s bodyguard. While he’s always been a phenomenal athlete with unlimited potential in the ring for a man of his size, Big E always lacked that spark that would push him higher and higher on the card. Now that he’s finally allowed to be himself in the hit faction, more and more of his character is coming to light and fans are loving it. As absurd and wacky as Big E acts these days, he can also get serious when the time is right and he’ll have to do that against Nakamura. The comedy stuff these guys could come up with during a match would be good enough but considering how talented both men are, don’t sleep on the potential for a classic wrestling match either.
Cesaro has long been a favorite, particularly on the internet, but it seems like the officials in charge are finally starting to take a liking to The Swiss Superman. Upon his scintillating return to the WWE Universe after WrestleMania, Cesaro has been thrust into the IC Title scene (which just so happens to be the hottest thing going in the company at the moment) which is hopefully a sign of big things to come. If Cesaro stays in the mid card title scene for the next few months, there won’t be a better opponent on the roster to welcome Nakamura to the big show.
11. Sami Zayn
While these two have done battle recently, it’s highly doubtful that anyone who watched their first contest would complain about seeing them go at it again. Zayn is the perfect plucky underdog that can go in the ring and take a vicious beating while still getting back to his feet and asking for more, while Nakamura is the perfect competitor to be happy to keep dishing it out. Add in Sami Zayn’s highly underrated selling ability and Shinsuke should be begging the officials in the back to put the two in the ring together again.
10. Finn Balor
Perhaps the only man on the entire WWE roster that can match Nakamura’s showmanship and in ring charisma, Finn Balor has to be on the list of dream WWE opponents for the Japanese sensation. Just seeing two guys standing toe to toe in the ring will be enough to draw a wild reaction from the crowd, whether it’s the NXT faithful or someday on the main roster. While only the people who subscribe to the WWE Network are lucky enough to watch these two in action right now, both guys are more than ready to be called up to the big leagues where we hope it won’t be long for their paths to cross.
9. Hideo Itami
If there’s one thing that Japanese wrestlers are known for, it’s that when they step foot in the ring, no one is safe from getting hit in the mouth. It’s a pure, hard hitting, brutal style that has slowly but surely been making its way across the ocean with American fans becoming more and more enthralled by the style. It would only make sense to pit two of the biggest stars to come out of Japan against each other under the WWE banner and just let them do their thing. If WWE can resist from watering down their brutality and just let the two men work the way they want, we’ll be treated to a match more akin to an MMA fight than a standard wrestling contest.
8. Roman Reigns
No matter how much it hurts to admit, there are very few people on the current WWE roster than can put up a better smash mouth, hard hitting contest than Roman Reigns. While he’s rather limited in several areas of his character, Regins’ matches against the likes of Big Show, Triple H, and Brock Lesnar prove that when the time comes for the fists to start flying, Roman is willing to dish it out as much as he is willing to take it. Throw two of the hardest hitters in wrestling together on the big stage and it’s guaranteed that the crowd will be on the edge of their seats awaiting the next sickening blow.
7. Samoa Joe
It wasn’t long ago that the idea of seeing Samoa Joe in a WWE ring, regardless of his opponent, was considered a dream by many fans and now that he has arrived and is doing some of the best work of his career, it’s time to look ahead to bigger and better things. Now that he’s finally vanquished The Demon, it seems as if there’s no one left that’s man enough to step up and take the kind of beating that The Samoan Submission Machine has become world renowned for handing out. Of course, there is one man who has no problem getting smacked in the mouth and returning the favor. There is one guy who is considered royalty in that kind of thing as a matter of fact. Putting Samoa Joe against The King of Strong Style is a treat that we all can’t wait to enjoy.
6. Triple H
While everyone likes to moan and complain about Triple H constantly burying talent, you do have to give him credit for one thing, being one of the best in ring story tellers most of us have ever seen. When he’s up against someone like Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns, he knows that the fans want to see a slug fest, but when he has to cover for the physical limitations of someone like Sting, he’s able to work around it and produce a match that can be remembered for a long time. The story that Triple H and Shinsuke would be able to tell in the ring would be absolutely thrilling, no matter the circumstances. Hunter could be the vicious heel looking to dominate the newbie and put him in his place, or Nakamura could even be an incoming foreigner looking to take over the States with HHH being the only one left that could stop him. No matter what it is, these two can produce gold.
5. John Cena
Whatever your opinion on John Cena may be, it’s just a matter of fact at this point that when it comes to getting the best out of someone in big moments, there’s no one better than “Big Match” John himself. From the build of the contest until the moment that the two combatants step between the ropes, the atmosphere would certainly be electric. On top of that there’s the fact that Cena, much like Triple H, is one of wrestling truly great story tellers and it’s a guarantee that when the two finally do face off in a proper feud. that it’ll keep our eyes on the screen the whole and hopefully become a long-term storyline, rather than a rushed one.
4. AJ Styles
Much like with Sami Zayn, it wasn’t that long ago that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura went toe to toe in the middle of a ring. Considering that ring was in Japan during New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 however, it’s likely that many of WWE’s current fan base aren’t aware of the pure magic that these two are capable of creating. If you haven’t seen their match from that show, I HIGHLY recommend doing so as soon as possible, as it really has everything you could hope for in a wrestling match. If these two can recreate even half of the energy that contest was able to produce, it’ll be the WWE match of the year by a long shot.
3. Brock Lesnar
What’s left to accomplish for the man, nay beast, that has beaten everyone that’s been put in front of him? You find him someone new to try and conquer. With the run that Lesnar has been on ever since breaking the streak, it’s hard to imagine anyone on the current landscape stepping up to The Beast and realistically putting him down. While the size difference alone might be enough to put Nakamura out of Lesnar’s league in some fans’ minds, all it takes is to have Shinsuke come in and annihilate folks while never backing down to Lesnar. When the two finally face off, there is a slight chance that one of them would get legitimately killed in the ring, which is not something you can say very often.
2. Seth Rollins
Now that “The Architect” has finally made his presence felt again, it’s only natural to speculate about what comes next for him. Obviously first up is Roman Reigns and trying to regain the title he never lost, but the path afterwards isn’t nearly as clear. While Rollins could finally buttheads with Triple H, as WWE seemed to be hinting at before his injury, he’d be much better off as the welcoming party for a guy who has the potential to join Rollins as a perennial mainstay at the top of the card. We all know that when it comes to competing in the ring, there aren’t many better in the entire world than Seth Rollins, so putting someone of his caliber against an absolute dynamo such as Nakamura and the resulting fireworks have the potential to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
1. Kevin Owens
Let’s be as blunt about this as possible, Kevin Owens is without a doubt the best thing going on in WWE at the moment, whether we’re talking about NXT or the main roster. Owens proves night in and night out that he’s the best heel the WWE has had in a long time, considering that he turns the pops he gets when his entrance music hits into boos by the end of the segment. Not to mention that despite what his frame might suggest, he’s one of the best in ring workers that the company has currently and all the pieces are there for a dynamite feud between Owens and a hero that’s finally able to put him in his place. Owens can run his mouth to his Japanese foe all he wants but Shinsuke will be there to remind him that all it takes to shut him up is one knee. This has the makings of a future PPV main event match.
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