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Enjoy Sami & Shinsuke While They Last!

August 25, 2019 | Posted by Steve Cook
Shinsuke Nakamura Sami Zayn, The Miz attack

April 6, 2016 was a time of hope.

It was WrestleMania Weekend, always a highlight in the year for wrestling fans of all persuasions. As usual, there were wrestling shows taking all over the WM location over the span of a few days. One of the most anticipated shows of the weekend was NXT’s TakeOver: Dallas event, highlighted by something of an Internet dream match.

Sami Zayn had been a hardcore fan favorite for years. Under the guise of El Generico he had taken the Indy wrestling world by storm. ROH, PWG, wherever else you wanna name, he had conquered it. His WWE signing and assignment to NXT had only increased his reputation. Sami had emerged from under the mask and became something of a rare breed in WWE programming at that point: a 100% accepted babyface.

On the other side of the ring was a man making his debut under the NXT banner whose reputation preceded him. Shinsuke Nakamura had been one of the top stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling for ages. He was one of the focal points & favorites of the hottest promotion in the eyes of the hardcore fans. His signing with WWE was seen as a huge deal that put Shinsuke on the biggest stage and left New Japan with a big hole to fill.

We didn’t know what laid ahead for Shinsuke upon his arrival, other than a match with Sami at TakeOver. Expectations were immense. Sami & Shinsuke lived up to every single one of them on that night.

Even the biggest skeptics among us had hope for these two guys after that. Surely, both men would move on to bigger & better things in the months & years ahead. Shinsuke was heading into NXT while Sami had already debuted on Raw and would be in a multi-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship on the next night’s WrestleMania card. Talk about a busy weekend! Two men that had been considered among the best in the world by smart fans for years had a classic match in Dallas. How did they follow up on that?

By not crossing paths for four years, of course!

Sami’s main gimmick throughout his time in WWE has been that of the man who is underutilized & unappreciated. Mick Foley never wanted to book him on Raw. He thought Daniel Bryan would be more open on SmackDown, but that relationship went downhill. Tagging up with Kevin Owens made sense, but KO was the featured member of that pairing. Sami’s always been stuck in the WWE shadows, and it hasn’t gotten any better since his return.

Most of us weren’t really sure why Shinsuke needed to go to NXT. We accepted it anyway, as we figured he would be used better there. His year there focused around the NXT Championship and had matches with the likes of Austin Aries, Finn Balor & Samoa Joe. Most people seemed ok with it. Then he moved up to the main roster, and had matches with the likes of Baron Corbin & Jinder Mahal. Sure, we eventually got some AJ Styles mixed in there, but by then the bloom was off the rose.

Hardcore New Japan fans used to talk about how Shinsuke was great on big shows in featured matches, but was prone to taking the night off when he wasn’t. Those of us that only saw his pimped matches didn’t see the other side. We’ve seen a lot of that side during his WWE run. Shinsuke is an artist. But when an artist isn’t motivated, they don’t create masterpieces.

For all intents and purposes, Shinsuke has mailed in his main roster run. I don’t blame him at all, but those that expected him to take the company to a new level of match quality are certainly disappointed. On the bright side, Shinsuke is on his third run with a championship that nobody remembers he has. He held the United States Championship twice, which we only kind of remember because it led to a random tag team with Rusev. He’s currently the Intercontinental Champion, and who remembered that before he showed up on Tuesday night? Dude hadn’t been on television since July 30, and had made a grand total of one title defense prior.

Oh, and he beat Finn Balor for the championship back on the Extreme Rules Kickoff Show. I know I’m supposed to act like people care about the Kickoff Shows, but most people really don’t. Heck, the fans going to the event don’t care about them, they show up in time for the PPV starting.

Sami Zayn is looking for something else to do while staring at the lights. Shinsuke Nakamura is hanging out in catering while staring at chocolate cake. Eventually, one of these two guys would remember the other existed, right?

This was a good segment right here. As usual, The Miz is the perfect choice for other people to play off of. Whether Miz is good or evil, he does his best to put his opposition over. I have no idea why Miz was on SmackDown, as I’m pretty sure he’s a Raw guy. Wild Card rule? Eh, who knows. Maybe he’s given an exemption as a talk show host.

All I know for sure is that Sami & Shinsuke served some notice here. I also know that Sami is a good promo, and he should have no problem speaking for a man like Shinsuke Nakamura. Singles matches featuring Shinsuke with Sami talking should work. Tag team matches would seem to make sense as well, as both of these guys are established as professional wrestlers. On paper, Sami Zayn & Shinsuke Nakamura together sounds pretty awesome. Especially if you were a hardcore wrestling fan back in 2016. If you haven’t watched everything that’s happened since then, you’ll probably be on board too.

Can pooling their resources work? Probably not. They’ll likely be an afterthought by this time next month. Like most other things in WWE, all we can hope for is some good matches to come out of it. There probably will be some. Will it last for a long time? Probably not, nothing involving Sami or Shinsuke on WWE’s main roster really has.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

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Steve Cook