On Sunday, June 17, Shinsuke Nakamura will battle current WWE Champion AJ Styles in a Last Man Standing match for the title. This has been a bitter rivalry that has gone back and forth for months, and the stipulation for the bout promises that one of these men will come out on top. However, the road to this match was a long one, which involved a lot of illegal low blows.
The relationship between Styles and Nakamura started as one of respect, before people's forearms started colliding with people's nether-regions. Both superstars were decorated legends on the wrestling circuit, especially in Japan, where the two last battled each other at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in 2016. Nakamura won the battle, but the two showed respect to each other with a fist bump in the middle of the ring.
Cut to two years later in 2018, both men are in WWE, AJ Styles is the WWE Champion and Nakamura is challenging him for his title on the grandest stage of them all, Wrestlemania. This was a dream match fans were dying to see, even though it's already happened. At the end of the match, Styles came out on top, and fans expected to see a show of respect after a great battle between two faces. That's the way it seemed to be going. Nakamura got on his knees, presented Styles the title, and promptly gave Styles a low blow, turning heel in the process. Obviously, there are very few ways to hit someone in the groin without becoming the bad guy.
Nakamura's heel-turn was just the spice this rivalry needed. However, appendages colliding with man-parts didn't stop at Wrestlemania. On the April 10 episode of Smackdown, Nakamura, once again, lended his fist and arm to Styles' meat and potatoes. Cut to a week later, on the April 17 episode of Smackdown, Nakamura gave a low-blow rising uppercut to Styles during a tag team match. On the April 24 episode of Smackdown, guess what happened? That's right, Styles' crotch was beaten into oblivion again. At April 27's Greatest Royal Rumble, it happened yet again. On the May 1 episode of Smackdown, you know what happened.
The battle between the two all came to a head at Backlash in a No Disqualification bout. Fans thought this was going to be the end of the battle, and hopefully, the end of the illegal blows between the two men. They were wrong. The match ended in a "no contest" after Styles and Nakamura kicked each other in the groin at the same time, leaving them both on the mat past the ref's count of 10.
Where do we go now? Well, at Money in the Bank, Styles and Nakamura will face each other in a Last Man Standing Match, so low blows don't mean much, unless the person on the receiving end stays down for a 10 count.
We'll see just how this match goes on Sunday, June 17 when Money in the Bank airs on the WWE Network. If you want to learn more about the event, check out the full match card, rumors surrounding the show, and our predictions for the PPV.