Praise The King Of Strong Style

Let's talk more about Shinsuke Nakamura.

I didn't cover NXT in the Wroundup because, well, NXT is firmly in "grooming talent for the main roster" mode instead of "it's own show with it's own plotlines" mode, and has been since Takeover Dallas. And in fact was in that mode to a certain extent leading UP to Takeover Dallas, with both the Women's and Tag championship matches being largely based on pure competition, the title match being almost an afterthought, and the best match on the card having no story behind it whatsoever.

But twice now since Takeover Dallas, Shinsuke Nakamura has wrestled. Both largely squash matches - he beat Ty Dillinger three weeks ago and the constant disappointment that is Elias Samson last week.

I enjoy wrestling the way a whale enjoys krill. You have to take in.a lot of nothing in order to get the small percentage of good bits. A lot of times, wrestling just doesn't work. What makes it work is a combination of factors that even the billion dollar company built entirely around popularizing doesn't really understand. If they did, Roman Reigns wouldn't be the WWE champion. But Shinsuke Nakamura might. Because Shinsuke Nakamura works. And when wrestling really works, it can be fucking magic.

Now, I watched a few Nakamura matches during that brief period when I had time to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling World, the American show that compiles big NJPW matches from the last few years. But since it focuses on big events and big matches, there's almost no context for characters or story. So I liked Nakamura, but didn't love him. But give him a context, and in many ways a smaller stage to shine on, and holy shit.

First, there's his entrance music. WWE fuckbotches entrance music CONSTANTLY. It's been years and I still think Sami Zayn's ska bullshit is completely wrong for him. I'm used to it now, but it still does nothing for me. But Nakamura's music fits him so perfectly. Because it's catchy, it's got a lot of energy, but it's not in any way Wrestling Music. It's mostly violin, for fuck's sake. Shinsuke Nakamura is catchy, has a lot of energy, and in many ways is not a Wrestling Guy.

When you watch Nakamura move, you immediately know what he's about. You've never seen anything like it in wrestling, because wrestling is very codified and ossified. Especially WWE, no matter how much it tries to change. For example, take confidence. Confidence is demonstrated in maybe two and a half ways tops across all of pro wrestling. Face confidence is just regular manly confidence, heel confidence is arrogance. Humblebragging and dickish bragging. Add in the tweaks of the individual characters (big guys brag differently from little guys) and you've got some variation, but not a lot.

Shinsuke Nakamura exudes confidence by eschewing the traditional modes of expressing it. It's a bit hacky to say this now, but the closest analogy I can think of is Prince. The way Prince convinced you he was masculine is the same way Nakamura convinces you he's confident and copetent - by doing things so differently and so oddly that only a goddamned genius could get away with it.

And then there's his in-ring work. Crisp. Precise. Hard. Imbued with his style and character. Full of tiny movements and expressions and details that grab your eyes and keep them focused on the screen. He's exciting to watch when he's getting up from the mat. He's exciting wrestling Elias Fucking Samson.

He's the most exciting thing happening in the WWE right now because everything about him works. Everything about him clicks. I don't know if the WWE can capture it and magnify it and present it to a world used to John Cena without crushing it and taking all the joy and excitement out of it, but for the time being, he's.a giant pile of krill in a vast ocean of Rybacks.