WWE SmackDown has some of the most talented superstars in pro wrestling today, including The King Of Strong Style and current United States Champion, Shinsuke Nakamura.
The King Of Strong Style appeared like he was going to skyrocket towards the top of WWE SmackDown just a few months ago, but since then, his creative direction has fallen to the wayside after a feud that has apparently set him back.
WWE fans were ecstatic when Nakamura won the 2018 Royal Rumble match and immediately set his sights on AJ Styles and the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34. The dream match nobody thought would happen in the WWE was going to take place and many expected an all-time great WrestleMania encounter.
And while the match was solid, it was a far cry from what fans thought it would be. The real highlight from the match came after Styles had retained his title when Nakamura low blowed The Phenomenal One and turned heel. This would set up a few more matches over the next couple of months with The King Of Strong Style operating as a cowardly heel.
But no matter how many times Nakamura got a shot at capturing the WWE Championship from Styles, he came up short time and time again. There were several screwy finishes that hurt the respective matches in place and the feud just never clicked as it should have. It did result in a match of the year candidate at Money In The Bank, but outside of that, Styles vs. Nakamura failed to live up to the hype.
That had a lot to do with the booking in place, but it still hurt Nakamura pretty significantly and it’s still being felt right now. The WWE decided to give Nakamura his first main roster championship at Extreme Rules when he defeated Jeff Hardy for the United States Championship, but it just felt like a consolation prize after so many failed attempts at capturing the WWE Championship.
As it turns out, that is exactly how the WWE has treated his title reign so far. The only real “feud” he has been involved in as U.S. Champion was with The Charismatic Enigma, who was also involved with a more significant feud with Randy Orton simultaneously. The hits just keep on coming for The King Of Strong Style and since he defeated Hardy at SummerSlam, he has absolutely nothing to do while not even being on TV much.
While he did defend his title on the most recent edition of SmackDown against Rusev, Nakamura still feels irrelevant even as the U.S. Champion. The WWE has tried to an extent to get the whole United States of Nakamerica gimmick over lately, but when the U.S. Champion is never on TV and the title has no real direction in place, it’s hard to make anybody care.
There’s no other way around it, The King Of Strong Style is in a very precarious situation right now. It all started after a failed WWE Championship feud and that has carried over. Giving Nakamura the U.S. Championship was not a bad idea, but giving it to him directly after losing countless WWE Championship opportunities just feels like the WWE is throwing him a bone.
And even if that is true, the WWE could have at least made his reign meaningful. However, it has been nothing more than an afterthought and that’s totally unacceptable and beneath a superstar the caliber of Nakamura. The only thing he has done as U.S. Champion has been being a third wheel in a feud between Hardy and Orton, that’s it.
The WWE desperately needs to find a real feud for Nakamura and the U.S. Championship because he is fading in the background more and more as time goes on. But given how the makeup of the blue brand looks right now, there doesn’t seem to be many challengers that make sense. The top babyfaces are all in current feuds and there aren’t really any other mid-card to lower mid-card babyface talents.
Maybe a top babyface like Daniel Bryan could fill that void once he gets past The Miz roadblock, but who knows how long that will take. The WWE has backed itself into a corner with Nakamura and the U.S. Championship, there’s really no other way to describe it. And that is hurting Nakamura even more than what he has been dealing with in recent months.
The downward creative spiral of The King Of Strong Style on WWE SmackDown has to end, but the company has a lot of work to do to reach that goal.