WWE's Shinsuke Nakamura has been on a roll as of late. He's the United States Champion on Smackdown and had a stellar rivalry run against AJ Styles, and many of those matches ended with Nakamura giving Styles a low blow. Now, he's in WWE 2K19, which is currently available worldwide; it is the latest entry in an annual franchise, and it contains a massive roster: 200+ wrestlers across Raw, Smackdown, and NXT, and Legends from years past. MyCareer mode has returned, with voice acting from WWE Superstars. There's a new "payback system," meant to simulate those classic WWE matches, where the underdog, in one magnificent burst of energy, gains the upper hand.
For the current U.S. champion, Shinsuke Nakamura, it's all very impressive--the appearance, the moveset, and the more subtle movements are all accurate. And although Nakamura didn't do any of the motion capture work himself, he approves of his stand-in's mimicry.
"Every wrestler wants to be a part of a video game, so it's incredible," said Nakamura in an interview with Gamespot. "It looks very realistic."
This is actually Nakamura's third appearance in the game; he debuted in WWE 2K17. His digital avatar's current rating, on a 100-point scale, is 87, which places him on the same level as Randy Orton and Finn Balor (Demon form), but below other wrestlers like Seth Rollins (88) and Samoa Joe (88).
"I want to be higher," Nakamura laughs. "But it's all about the [individual] player, right? It's all about the skill. So hopefully, next year, I'll be higher."
Nakamura's in-ring archrival, AJ Styles, is WWE 2K19's cover athlete and has an overall rating of 91. Over the course of their wrestling careers, Nakamura and Styles have fought each other seven times. Styles is thus far the victor by a slim margin; he's won three matches, lost two matches, and drawn two more. Nakamura acknowledges his in-ring chemistry with the current WWE Champion; he values narrative over complexity for its own sake.
"We both have a lot of experience," said Nakamura. "Wrestling a match is telling a story, so I don't do anything too complicated. I keep it simple."
Video games were a part of Nakamura's childhood. One of his first exposures to video games was in elementary school, when his sister bought Super Mario Bros. But one of his favorite games foreshadowed his lifelong passion for professional wrestling.
"Right before middle school, I got my first wrestling video game called Fire Pro Wrestling," said Nakamura in an interview with Gamespot. "I was really into it at the time. Human Entertainment would release a new Fire Pro Wrestling every December, so I bought it every year."
"I don't play [games] much [today], but some wrestlers bring their video games, and sometimes, very rarely, I play," continued Nakamura. He pauses, and laughs again. "Console video games these days are too complicated for me, because I have to use all my fingers!"