When WWE accumulated the WrestleMania 34 enhance in between AJ Styles and also Shinsuke Nakamura as a ‘dream match’, I laughed. I couldn’t probably take them seriously. Sure, Nakamura had actually won the Royal Rumble and also Styles was the ideal wrestler in WWE at the moment. But the straightforward fact was that nopoint WWE could perform would bring about their version being better than the original.

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Sure enough, the WrestleMania enhance in between them was a spectacular disappointment. It was only okay by both wrestlers’ standards, but absolutely not worthy of being a ‘dream match’. Maybe that was intentional, to make one of them right into a villain for not transporting at WrestleMania. Regardmuch less, that enhance was a flop, and also a number of of Nakamura’s former NJPW comrades – that flew all the means from Japan to check out him wrestle at WrestleMania – left as soon as it finished. They knew it wasn’t as excellent as what NJPW put on, which is why we’re going to revisit that enhance now.

Styles and also Nakamura had their original massive singles enhance 2 years previously at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 10 occasion. It was a match that almost stole the present, which is what Nakamura regulated to do the year prior. This was the extremely reason why human being lugged up the concept of Styles and also Nakamura having actually a dream match in WWE in the first place. They thought those two could put on an equally-awesome enhance in WWE, only for those dreams to be daburned.


So through that, let’s look earlier at among the best matches of the previous five-year period, Nakamura vs. Styles from Wrestle Kingdom 10.

As a reminder, I am reviewing Five Star and almost-Five Star wrestling matches as rated by Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. It goes earlier to the 1980s and also I’m going to pick different matches from various eras to watch exactly how they look this particular day. Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series right below.

The story

This enhance is focused on a dream singles match for Nakamura’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Up to that suggest, Nakamura had actually been even more associated with that title than anyone else in New Japan, and had actually done the many to make that title suppose somepoint. By November of 2015, Nakamura was still champion and issued an open up obstacle, which was answered by Styles. This was viewed as a dream enhance because the 2 of them had actually never challenged off in singles competition. They had actually confronted off 3 times in tag team matches in between 2008 and 2015, through Nakamura being on the winning side in two of them.

For Nakamura, this was the possibility to prove that he was still on the exact same level, if not greater than, the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Styles was arguably the most legit challenger feasible for him, having actually pertained to NJPW on fire and having actually put on amazing wrestling matches from the moment he debuted. At the moment, it wasn’t recognized that both males were leaving New Japan, so tbelow was this concept that Styles might possibly take Nakamura’s cheriburned title away and also into Bullet Club’s hands, which would’ve elevated that secure also further.

The question was, can Styles execute it?


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The match

This match took place on January 4th, 2016 at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in the Tokyo Dome. It was originally rated ****3/4 stars by the Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer. I acquire the feeling the just reason it wasn’t rated any kind of greater was that he currently provided an additional match on the same display the perfect 5-star rating, and also, at the moment, had actually only ever offered even more than one enhance on the exact same display 5-stars once, back in 1993.

The bell rings and also the crowd is currently loud. Styles has actually a ago injury going right into this match. After a minute of teasing, they ultimately lock up and also do some amateur chain wrestling that ends in a standoff and loud applausage. Styles breaks complimentary of an armlock utilizing the ropes and also they lock up aget. Styles ducks a clothesline and also a kick from Nakamura, goes for a backslide, Nakamura escapes and also Styles teases the Styles Clash. Nakamura dodges and goes for Boma Ye. Styles dodges. Another standoff. Loud applausage from the crowd.

They lock up aacquire and Nakamura gets a clean break on the ropes, then taunts Styles. Styles does the Bullet Club gunallude gesture, but Nakamura preoften tends to eat the bullet, which reasons Styles to charge at him. Styles leapfrogs over a charging Nakamura and also lands a gorgeous dropkick. Nakamura reverses an Irish whip and also goes for a hiptoss yet Styles resists, so Nakamura snapmares him and also lands some stiff kicks. Snapmare/knee drop combo complied with by some more posing by Nakamura as the five-minute note passes.

Nakamura whips Styles into a corner yet Styles kicks him amethod, yet then Nakamura drags Styles off the optimal turnbuckle by his leg. Styles lands hard and also seems to hurt his ago, forcing the ref to store Nakamura back. But Styles was playing possum, as he attacks from behind as quickly as Nakamura transforms his back. Styles slams Nakamura then lands a Nakamura-style knee drop to include insult to injury and also applies a Muta Lock. Nakamura reaches the edge conveniently and also fights earlier via forearms, but Styles knocks him ago down. Styles lands a stinger splash in the edge and also lands even more forearms, but Nakamura fights ago and also counters a scoop slam right into a sleeper. But Styles counters that and goes for a clothesline, yet Nakamura counters that right into a Sheamus-style Irish Curse backbreaker. Great counter.


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Styles escapes to the ringside area, however Nakamura catches him and spears him into the steel barricade. Back in the ring, Nakamura hits brutal kicks to Styles’ midsection. Styles grabs Nakamura’s leg on the 3rd one however Nakamura counters into an enzuigiri with the free leg. Nakamura lands Good Vibrations in the corner, adhered to by stiff knee strikes to the collar and a gourdbuster. He charges for the Boma Ye but Styles dodges him. But not for lengthy as Nakamura areas him on the optimal turnbuckle and lands a STIFF knee to the ago. I choose just how Nakamura’s complying with up on previously stuff by placing Styles face-up instead of face-dvery own. He commonly lands that move to an opponent’s stomach, however this time goes for the back to capitalize on previously work. Small details like that really matter in significant matches like this one.

Styles kicks out of two pins at the count of one, so Nakamura lands hare forearms to the small of Styles’ ago. He goes for one more running edge knee lift but Styles escapes and lands his Phenomenal Forearm. Styles gets up first but progressively and goes for a suplex, but he can’t at initially because of the earlier pain. Nakamura tries to respond to into a suplex of his own, but Styles counters him right into a snap suplex right into the edge. Styles teases the Styles Clash aobtain but Nakamura resists, so Styles rolls right into the Calf Killer however Nakamura grabs the ropes nearly instantly. Styles tries to start working Nakamura’s leg but Nakamura escapes with one more difficult kick to the head. Nakamura tries to land his inverted Exploder suplex but Styles resists, so Nakamura lands more forearms to the back complied with by a Backstabber. Inverted Exploder by Nakamura. Nakamura fires up and so does the crowd. He goes for Boma Ye, Styles dodges and rolls into the Calf Killer. Phenomenal respond to. Right in the middle of the ring. But unexpectedly, Nakamura counters right into a cross armbreaker. But Styles counters that through a forearm to the confront. Styles goes for a backflip from the top rope, yet seems to miss out on Nakamura completely. Rack Bomb by Styles for a two-count.

Fifteenager minutes have actually passed as Styles goes for the Styles Clash aget. Nakamura powers out, Styles counters into a suncollection flip. But Nakamura escapes. Boma Y—no, Styles dodges. Styles escapes a Gerguy suplex but walks right into a kick. Jumping Boma Ye. Both men go down.

Both males are dvery own to one knee as they profession stiff forearms. They go ago and also forth on this till Styles ducks a huge forearm. Wheelbarrowhead facebuster by Styles for a two-count. They both gain back up and also Styles lands a KENTA rush. More stiff strikes from each male. Styles dodges a stiff ax kick and lands the Pélé kick. BOMA YE! Styles kicks out! Wow, exactly how did he survive that?

Nakamura goes for the Landslide however Styles counters right into a crucisettle pin for 2. Nakamura charges aget yet walks right into a brutal kick to the challenge. 450 Splash by Styles. Nakamura kicks out. Styles goes for a Brainbuster yet Nakamura fights earlier. Big backfist by Styles. He goes for an additional, but Nakamura counters. Flying Armbreaker. Awesome relocate. Styles resists. Nakamura transitions right into a triangle choke. Styles starts fading. Wait, no, Styles counters. Styles Clash! He lands it perfectly. One, 2, NO, Styles kicks out at 2.9. Amazing sequence.


Styles gets a sudden second wind and charges at Nakamura. BLOODY SUNDAY! Shades of Prince Devitt! Styles announces the finish. He tries an additional Styles Clash yet Nakamura resists. He tries aacquire, yet then decides versus it. Then he drags a nearly-unconscious Nakamura to the corner. Oh, no, he’s going for the diving Styles Clash. He tries and tries for that move, but Nakamura fights earlier. Avalanche Landslide! Wow, one more great move by Nakamura. He pins, yet Styles kicks out. BOMA YE! Styles is still relocating. Another Boma Ye! One, two, three! That’s it, there’s the match!

Winner and STILL IWGP Intercontinental Champion after 24:18: Shinsuke Nakamura

Post-enhance, they brofist in a screen of shared respect.

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You have the right to watch it listed below with English commentary.

https://www.dailyactivity.com/video/x4vlcxo


Review

This was a great enhance. Both Nakamura and Styles yielded by reflecting why they retained obtaining so a lot praise at the time. Their timing was nearly flawless, the sequences they delivered were spectacular, and also they had actually the crowd on the palms of their hands. It was truly deserving of the moniker of a dream match, and also was MUCH much better than their WWE match that would certainly take place two years later on.

They told a really straightforward story here. Styles preserved going for the Styles Clash, which was super-over as a terrifying finisher in New Japan. A few civilization had endured legitimate injuries taking the move (not Styles’ fault), including at leastern one wrestler experiencing a severe neck injury. But New Japan doesn’t infantilize its audience by pretending such points don’t happen. Instead, they incorporated those extremely genuine injuries right into Styles’ storylines. Anytime he went for the Styles Clash, it was teased as a major risk. And as soon as he went for a diving version of the relocate, it was treated as a potential career-ender. That offered Styles somepoint simple to occupational via. By teasing that relocate over and over, he kept world on the edge of their seats. And when he landed it by countering a triangle choke, he nearly had the enhance won. Styles additionally tried to weaken Nakamura by working over his legs, and that strategy nearly worked however still wasn’t sufficient to soptimal Nakamura. All it did was that it forced Nakamura to land also not one yet 2 closing Boma Ye knee strikes to win.

As for Nakamura, his approach right here was to take benefit of Styles’ earlier injury whenever before feasible. He targeted Styles’ earlier on numerous occasions, which not just slowed Styles dvery own, but made it harder for Styles to perform most of his bigger moves. And as soon as Nakamura kicked out of the Styles Clash, all Nakamura had actually to execute was wait for an opening to drop Styles through a difficult knee strike. And he did. Once Styles got also cocky and went for the diving Styles Clash, Nakamura uncovered his chance. The avalanche Landslide exposed Styles to being hit in the confront, and Nakamura operated via the pain to land also sufficient knee strikes to store Styles dvery own lengthy sufficient for the three-count.

On the flip side, tbelow was some spotty selling from both wrestlers in this match. Styles operated Nakamura’s legs over quite a little, yet that damages wasn’t incorporated well right into the complete. After he landed Bloody Sunday, he appeared to neglect how a lot damages was done to his back. I wish he continued to be constant in that marketing because it would’ve made his offensive feel prefer more of a struggle.


There was additionally many unvital stalling in the opening five minutes, which was coupled via a lack of inner story. Yes, this was a dream complement and also both wrestlers wanted this contest to be constructed on mutual respect and clean wrestling. But there’s something around Nakamura that practically needs he display off his personality in his matches. I can’t assist yet compare this enhance to Nakamura’s complement through Kota Ibushi from the previous year’s Wrestle Kingdom. In that complement, Nakamura shown means more personality than right here. He openly mocked Ibushi and his wild displays of cockiness not just fit into that enhance perfectly, but made it better. In that enhance, Nakamura did such an awesome job of showing a wacky-but-overconfident bully that you wanted to check out Ibushi beat time. But instead, Nakamura properly baited Ibushi into getting also angry, which permitted Nakamura to win. Here, there was none of that personality. Instead, it was closer to a pure athletic challenge. And while there’s nopoint inherently wrong through that, it causes the first fifty percent of the enhance to feel a little bit empty. Had Nakamura done the very same kind of ‘character work’ in this complement as he did in his match through Ibushi, then this challenge would certainly be a lot much better because the opening moments wouldn’t be so unmotivating.

Final Rating: ****3/4

As much as I don’t prefer parroting an existing rating, I think ****3/4 is the ideal call for this complement. It was awesome in essentially eincredibly means, and also yet it has actually some minor flegislations that prevent it from being a true, marvelous epic. Styles has actually always done a good task of playing a significant wrestler, whether as a challenge or as a heel. But Nakamura, ironically, is at his ideal once he reflects off his wacky gimmick and also incorpoprices at least a little bit of that into his interactions via other wrestlers. And in his search to make this right into a pure dream enhance, Nakamura abandoned his typical vibrant personality for the most component, which led to a less exciting opening stretch.

And yet for all its flegislations, this match was more than deserving of its moniker of being a dream enhance. It isn’t either wrestler’s best-ever before complement, but it’s still up tbelow. They entered Wrestle Kingdom hoping to steal the show. And while they didn’t, their attempts to carry out so brought about this awesome match. It’s definitely a must-watch for any kind of fan of either wrestler.

See more: Why Does The Author Use Third-Person Point Of View In This Excerpt?

Check out previous entries in my 5 Star Match Reviews series ideal below. Thanks for analysis.