Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled at a WWE house show in Hawaii Wednesday night. Owens, in my opinion, has been the most compelling performer on WWE’s roster in 2016 when you factor in work in the ring and on the microphone. Nakamura joined the developmental NXT from New Japan right before WrestleMania. As reporter Dave Meltzer has said, he has the rare IT factor where he’s so charismatic that you just have to watch every little thing he does.
The match was a lot of fun, and surely would’ve been a treat to see live. At the beginning, Owens interrupts Nakamura’s entrance and just starts pounding on him. There are a few big spots. The story had time to breathe. Michael Cole, JBL, and Byron Saxton weren’t interrupting. [UPDATE: WWE had the full match video taken down, so now there are some highlights but it’s obviously not the same.]
Now, from a physical perspective this isn’t what you would see out of these two on a PPV event – and it shouldn’t have been, because that would be a wonderful match if there is a real build and real stakes.
WWE has its brand split and draft coming up, and there are A Lot of exciting possibilities for matchups and feuds. Nakamura, Finn Balor, Bayley, and Samoa Joe are all ready to get called up to the main roster now. Owens, Sasha Banks, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, John Cena (who’s had a much-maligned career, but has been GREAT of late), and champion Dean Ambrose are big, interesting stars. There are also a lot of strong mid-carders.
If they don’t squander it – and that’s a big if – the next few months could really ignite momentum for what in the past couple years has not been a product that lived up to its potential.