WWE Wrestlemania 34 Results: AJ Styles Vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Highlights
Dream match, part 2.
It was the match many were hoping to see when two of the greatest wrestlers in the world finally joined the WWE in the last few years. AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura--who both built their names and reputation outside of Vince McMahon's promotion--have competed against each other only once before (an extremely well-received match at NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom 10). But their bout for the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania 34 marked the first time the two have wrestled each other in the WWE, and it was expected to be one of the best matches on a stacked card.
While the wrestling itself was anticipated to be great, the lead-up to the match on Sunday was somewhat tepid. Nakamura won this year's Royal Rumble and promptly challenged AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. But rather than build from there, WWE decided to put doubt in the fans' minds, forcing Styles to defend his championship at the Fastlane PPV in March against five other wrestlers (including the then-directionless John Cena). But even after Styles retained, the on-screen build between the two has been listless, save for a couple of patronising head pats (first from Nakamura to Styles after an aborted Kinshasa, and then Styles to Nak after a cancelled Phenomenal Forearm).
So all we were left to look forward to was the in-ring action. We expected Nakumara to walk away with belt, but the match--and the ensuing action afterwards--went in a different direction. Here's a recap.
- Nakamura comes to the ring flanked by two rows of violinists and Alice Cooper's guitarist, Nita Strauss. Strauss pulls off a blistering guitar solo. Styles comes out to his traditional entrance, with the signature pyro added back in.
- WWE needs to compromise on the pyro. Use it for big PPVs, even if they skip it on Raw and SmackDown.
- The two men lock up and exchange grappling sequences. They're working pretty stiff. King of Strong Style is no joke.
- Nakamura delivers a kick off the top rope. Then he kicks out Styles' legs. Then he delivers a stiff knee to Styles' ribcage. Both men are going to be feeling this match tomorrow morning.
- Styles returns the favor with a nasty gutbuster over his knee. Styles tries a Phenomenal Forearm, and Nakamura reverses it into a Landslide. Styles kicks out.
- Styles smartly targets Nakamura's left leg. Nakamura limps to his feet, tries to lift Styles, and falters. Styles reverses the fireman's carry into a Calf Crusher on the same left leg. Excellent job by Nakamura of selling his injury, and kudos to Styles for continuing the physical storytelling.
- The crowd is pretty dead. This match is suffering from its placement on the card and also for how slow the two men decided to work it. Earlier in the night, this would have worked better. But now it's past 11, and the crowd is exhausted. If Styles and Nakamura knew they were going to work this slow, they should have gone on earlier.
- It's over. Nakamura attempted a Kinshasa, and Styles reversed it into a Styles Clash. The pinfall and the victory go to Styles.
- Both Royal Rumble winners lost tonight. That's a bit demoralizing.
- You know, Nakamura shouldn't have to bow. Speaking as a fellow Asian man,it's a little degrading to SWEET MARY IT'S A HEEL TURN! Nakamura just low-blowed Styles, and is now kicking his face outside the ring.
- What a fantastic swerve. Compared to the other matches on the card, this one had less energy. But Nakamura's heel turn will be what people remember most.
You can catch up on all the happenings from Wrestlemania in our full results coverage. You can also catch the replay of the event on the WWE Network.