Thursday, January 5, 2017

Shinsuke Nakamura: #5 in the Top 10 Wrestlers of 2016

"Fight forever!"

Those were the words chanted at Shinsuke Nakamura during his very first WWE match, an NXT bout two days before Wrestlemania between himself and Sami Zayn that lasted over twenty minutes. The bout was a match of the year contender smack dab in the middle of one of the best cards anywhere in wrestling in 2016.

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But it wasn't Nakamura's first great highlight of 2016. That actually came on January 4th while still working for New Japan Pro Wrestling. He and AJ Styles put on the match of the night at Wrestle Kingdom 10 where Nakamura barely edged out the Bullet Club's leader to retain the Intercontinental title. Styles' show of respect post-match actually proved the catalyst that would have the rest of the Club turn on him and Styles leave the promotion for WWE himself.

Nakamura wrestled several great farewell matches for NJPW shortly afterward before he traveled to America for his NXT debut. He quickly became dominant on NXT television, where he successfully won every match he was in from March until November. He beat Zayn, Tye Dillinger, Austin Aries and Finn Balor all on his way to taking on Samoa Joe in August to win his first NXT championship.

Of course, Samoa Joe would also hand him his first loss, but Nakamura bounced back with two more big wins in the month of December to secure his place as NXT champ. Now he seems poised to ring in the new year in incredible ways for the brand.

Nakamura's unique charisma and aggressive in ring style make him one of the most interesting figures to watch on WWE television. Coupled with some great if often simple productions around him (look no farther than the Lee England Jr. violin solo at Takeover: Brooklyn II) and he shines like a star.

He's also one of the few stars I suspect will make a major splash on the main roster in 2017. The sky is truly the limits for the King of Strong Style, a man I doubt has seen his last entry in the year end Top 10 in 2016.

Next time, we will look at the very first talent to get a number one vote in the list and the only multi-generational star in the Top 10.

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