Two weeks ago, Shinsuke Nakamura beat John Cena, clean, with one Kinshasa after Cena couldn’t get it done with two Attitude Adjustments. While their initial outing was a fun time had by all, it will ultimately end up being one of two things. Either the first step in making a new star or an attempt to revitalize a diminishing asset.
Cena/Nakamura checked off every box that was required to make the match a success. Cena raised Nakamura’s hand afterward and then they both bowed to each other in respect. Nakamura was put over as strong as possible in today’s WWE while still being undefeated.
The former New Japan sensation is poised for WWE superstardom. Unlike die-hard favorites of the past that were either reluctantly pushed in a featured role or were denied the opportunity, Nakamura gives none of the customary excuses.
He’s not short, skinny, corpulent or homely. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s arguably not only the best wrestler in the world but the most charismatic, too. Also, casual fans actually like him, a lot. This means there is no divide by which fans do or don’t appreciate the “King of Strong Style”.
Enter Jinder Mahal, whose current and unexpected run as WWE Champion is primarily an attempt to infiltrate the potentially lucrative Indian market. Mahal is SmackDown’s lead antagonist in a stereotypical foreign heel role that most fans find to be extremely mundane.
Mahal, for his part, has done as well as anybody who is given limited and trite material to work with. He certainly looks like an imposing figure in the role, but his ascension came out of nowhere, which can work with the right character and concept. With Mahal, his achievement is damned with faint praise because, from a tenured perspective, it wasn’t earned thus giving the character zero credibility.
The prevailing theory is that Mahal will not lose the championship before WWE’s tour of India in September. However, there is no tour of India that is officially on the books. In fact, there is no evidence of any WWE tour of India taking place within the next eight months.
Does that mean that Mahal needs to be champion until a tour is scheduled? No. You can have him lose, set up the tour and have him win the title again in his home country. There is no rule that says he can’t be a two-time champion. He gets along with his peers backstage and management is happy with his work.
Nakamura winning the title, in front of a predominantly die-hard Brooklyn crowd at Summer Slam would be the perfect way to establish him as a new star. That would be great, however, I can easily see WWE going in the opposite direction.
Mahal being the first person to beat Nakamura could legitimatize the character. The logic of that plan is understandable, but trying to get Mahal over by osmosis is a waste of a job by John Cena, who busted his ass putting Nakamura over. Randy Orton pinning Mahal clean this week also improves the chances of a Mahal’s title retention.
If WWE really cares about what is best for business, Shinsuke Nakamura should become the new WWE Champion at Summer Slam. WWE misreads a lot of things and has done so here with Jinder Mahal’s unexpected world title push.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the elephant in the room that is Baron Corbin, who is in possession of the Money in the Bank briefcase. WWE creative is in full heel mode right now and it would be disappointing, but not surprising, if Corbin cashes in and walks out of the Barclays Center with the gold. Nakamura has an uphill battle, booking wise, but hopefully, clearer heads will prevail come SummerSlam.