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Shinsuke Nakamura

The King of Strong Style Returns to WWE Television

WWE announced Shinsuke Nakamura’s return for the April 14th episode of SmackDown, and I’m wondering what to expect.

While Nakamura hasn’t been seen on WWE television since November 11, 2022, the King of Strong Style did work a couple of SmackDown dark matches, the WWE Holiday tour, and a pair of house shows in January.

During that time, Nakamura also returned to Japan to wrestle The Great Muta in one of Muta’s final matches. The finish of that match saw Shinsuke utilize Muta’s trademark mist before connecting with the Kinshasa for the pinfall victory.

Now that Nakamura is set to make his return, the question is how he’ll be positioned on the card and whether his standing in the company will remain more or less the same as before he left.

Image Credit to WWE.

Outside WWE, Nakamura was always booked to be among one of the top performers in New Japan Pro Wrestling. He is a three time IWGP Heavyweight Champion and a five time IWGP Intercontinental Champion.

Indicative of his enormous star power in Japan, he actually once headlined New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom Tokyo Dome show as the Intercontinental Champion while the Heavyweight title was relegated to the undercard.

Within WWE, he has cycled through periods that saw him approach the top of the card and other periods that saw him slip down the card so far that he was only slightly better than a job guy.

His first year with the company saw him go 13-3 in NXT with two reigns as the brand’s champion before being called to the main roster.

Nakamura has now spent roughly six years as a member of either Raw or Smackdown, and his push has been wildly inconsistent.

While his run on the main roster has included several accolades (Royal Rumble Winner, 2 Intercontinental Championships, 2 US Championships), his win-loss record of 51-42 give him a win percentage in singles competition of just 54%.

In 2018, Nakamura went from winning the Royal Rumble in January to slipping down to the mid-card, but still capturing the United States Championship for a five month reign.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we see Shinsuke go just 2-9 in 2020.

People say that wins and losses don’t matter. Sometimes those people are right, but other times we talk about how Roman Reigns hasn’t been pinned in almost four years.

The point I’m trying to illustrate with these wins and losses is that the return of Shinsuke Nakamura could mean one of two things.

Will we see Nakamura return as the charismatic bad ass from Japan that during his excursion has come to possess the mystical powers of the Great Muta, or will we just see another victim for Roman, Gunther, Solo, Sheamus, and Drew.

We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m hopeful for the former.

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