If WWE does anything that would prevent AJ Styles facing Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleMania 34 with the company title on the line, I swear I am going to stop watching professional wrestling altogether.
There is some fear on my part that the company will throw fans a curveball Sunday at the Fastlane pay-per-view, where the winner of the match may not be the current WWE World Champion. I suppose there are scenarios that could make it possible for the two international superstars to meet in the ring and tear the Mercedes Benz Superdome down without a title on the line.
Like me, it would piss off quite a number of fans. The inclusion of John Cena in the “Six-Pack” challenge main event of SmackDown Live’s final PPV tells me there could be more than one swerve coming our way. Taking the attention away from a Styles-Nakamura showcase would be bad for business. The worst thing that could happen would be a triple threat match as the main event, featuring Styles, Nakamura and Cena.
WWE could still book a Styles-Nakamura match. Sami Zayn could turn on his “best friend” Kevin Owens, which would lead to another confrontation between them on the “Show of Shows” in just under a month from now. For the record, Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler have no business in this main event and serve their purpose as window dressing, nothing more.
The fact WWE put both Nakamura and Asuka over at the Royal Rumble is significant. It means fan sensibilities matter, that the old guard has gotten stale. It means the imported talent over the past two years is set to lead another era in this business. Who would have thought this would happen the “bigger is better” mentality of a brand that has cheated its fans out of title runs by uber-popular stars in the past?
As soon as it was announced Nakamura was signed to a deal with NXT, millions of fans asked the $64,000 question – will he face Styles? Will the two have the same kind of chemistry the two had in New Japan Pro Wrestling? Can a rivalry like this one set a new standard in this company?
The answer is YES, YES, YES!
The only wrestler guaranteed a match in New Orleans is Nakamura. The others are part of the build. Getting to WrestleMania is still one of the better storylines WWE can sell its fan base. The first two major pay-per-view events of the year – the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber – set the tone for an improved effort to market a better product. I’m not sold on the package Fastlane offers, as it is usually the show that sets the tone for April. It’s a mixed bag with lots of potentially that generally falls flat.
WWE cannot allow that to happen. The main event must sell well. Anyone other than Styles winning would be a huge disappointment. Wrestling fans want to see the best performers in the biggest matches at the biggest event of the year.
Styles is the best in the business right now. That’s why he is the company champion. Changing that this close to WrestleMania 34 would ruin any momentum WWE needs to keep fan interest for the next four weeks. It would also show the forward thinking by management just set itself back a few steps in the process.
WWE cannot afford for that to happen.