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Can time allow A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura to recreate the magic from their Wrestle Kingdom encounter at WrestleMania?

They did it once at the Tokyo Dome, can Styles and Nakamura do it again at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?

Time is a wonderful thing. When A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura were first signed by WWE, everyone was waiting for them to duke it out in the squared circle once again. Their epic bout at Wrestle Kingdom 10 wanted fans craving for more. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on who you are talking to, WWE did a great job at separating them for about two years. The wall separating these two will come crashing down as they face off for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34.

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with their work, I highly recommend you check out their encounter at WK10. The folks at New Japan Pro Wrestling were kind enough to share that match before WrestleMania, for your viewing pleasure. With it already being WrestleMania weekend, there is no time for sleep.


Some call this a slow match, I call it strategic. Just like this year, A.J. had a nagging injury that almost cancelled the bout. The two were able to work around it to create a clean match filled with epic counters and innovative moves. Strong Style is the name of the game.

Nakamura had his fair share of success in WWE, making NXT his baby. Meanwhile, SmackDown Live became “The Houese that A.J. Styles Built”, culminating in multiple world title runs for A.J. When Shinsuke finally debuted on SmackDown, the countdown was on. When Nakamura first started out on the main roster, he wasn’t given the best opportunities. However, the start of a potential Nakamura/Styles match began when the two faced off for a brief moment at 2017’s Money in the Bank PPV. After that, time went on once again, and Nakamura proved why he belonged in WWE, facing John Cena and beating him in an epic affair.

Time became relevant again. After defeating Cena, Nakamura lost to Jinder Mahal for the WWE Title, ending with no clear direction for him once again. A.J. on the other hand was able to beat Jinder for the title a few months later. But still, Nakamura was nowhere to be found. And then came the Royal Rumble.

Leading up to the start of 2018, there were rumors that Nakamura would actually win the Royal Rumble match. Fans were petitioning for a Styles/Nakamura bout for so long that WWE had to follow through with it, right? After 60+ minutes, everyone’s dream became a reality, as Nakamura won the Royal Rumble, choosing A.J. as his opponent.

The course was set, and while the story leading up to WrestleMania could have been better, these two can tell a better story in the ring. Believe it or not, A.J. and Shinsuke have become better wrestlers since Wrestle Kingdom 10. Time has been on their side. To say they can outdo their encounter in Japan is not impossible. Under the bright lights of WrestleMania, legends have been made just by the atmosphere alone.

Timing is everything. The stars have aligned for these two to have a fight worthy of the WrestleMania main event, even if it won’t be. To have a great match, you need people who understand what the goal is. A.J. and Shinsuke completely get it, and will look to once again bring out the best in one another.

Will this match be a five star classic? Stay tuned, we should be in for quite a show.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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