I really have little independent or international viewing experience. For this exercise, it may be a positive, because I have zero emotions when it comes to scrutinizing these guys' impact. I wasn't there for AJ Styles 6-star match in a community theater. I didn't see that one time when Samoa Joe did that one thing. I did see Tyler Black backflip off of a fat dude's stomach, but only after he was Seth Rollins. I'm a WWE snob, and I'm only partially sorry about it.
All that being said, I can't help but feel the warm bosom of Mother Wrestling, because this recent string of WWE acquisitions sent me down a YouTube rabbit hole. I watched clips of everyone, but my glee came from Styles vs. Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom 10.
I mean, wow.
Sure, who am I to evaluate these professionals? I'm a dude with an internet connection, a WWE Network subscription and laptop; and that matters, damn it! Or something like that.
He's been an indy darling for a decade and would definitely be on TNA's version of Mount Rushmore. His moveset and athleticism will garner a jaw-drop or two, but how much of that will WWE allow the be incorporated?
The real question is, why is he just now coming to WWE? In his mid-30s, it's barely worth saying that Styles is well in the second half of his career. Age aside, this guy has been producing exceptional work for a long time. Why now? To answer that question we have to pose another: has he ever jumped from being a skilled entertainer to a can't miss talent? My guess is that WWE has never seen him as a necessity.
I'm not sure of WWE's exact criteria, but I'll assume it's stringent, and if Vince McMahon says no, well, that's pretty much it. What I do know is that Styles is smaller, southern, and a figurehead of a promotion not named WWE—all of which can be damning in their own right. It only takes one drawback for WWE not to sign someone, so I guess we can safely assume this: WWE never wanted him.
Harsh, no doubt.
If NXT is WWE's version of the independent circuit, they certainly have a hard time making room for their "home grown" talent promotions on the main roster. Just how much are they willing to carve out for a veteran from peripheral companies?
Now, though, they must see a niche for him. With multiple injuries to veteran talent (John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro) WWE needs to fill that slot with a veteran. Will he ever be a Heavyweight Champion? I mean, he could work under the Chris Jericho archetype with similar size and in-ring capabilities, but is he as good on the mic? It seems like he fits better under the Chris Benoit/Eddie Guerrero umbrella. He could certainly make a splash in the upper-card. Personally, I hope he skips NXT. Although I haven't exactly gushed about the guy, I am excited to see what he does.
|"He's a lunatic, Maggle!"|
Fact: These signings leaked/were announced the day after the WWE Network launched in Japan.
Fact: Shinsuke Nakamura is from Japan.
Opinion: If there is one dude to get juiced about, it's this guy.
WWE commits itself to "making movies," using its wrestlers. Well, they just got a great villain. Nakamura could scare children for years.
Also in his mid-30s, Nakamura keeps the trend going of experienced talent making the jump the WWE. His nickname is the "King of Strong Style," which basically means that his strikes look very real, mostly because they kind of are.
I've watched limited footage of Nakamura (or do we follow the MLB Ichiro Rule and call him Shinsuke) but man, he is fascinating. There's something darkly alluring about him—his posture, expressions and overall unorthodox. Combine this with his punishing style and Nakamura has serious potential.
WWE's history with Japanese imports isn't great, (Taka Michinoku, Tajiri, and that dude that cut off Val Venis' venis) but at least there is one. It's hard to analyze Hideo Itami's impact as he was injured just as he was given room to fly. At this point, it's hard to categorize Asuka's integration as anything other than successful. For Nakamura, though, going to straight to the main roster seems like the best fit.
I tried to find clips of him speaking English with little results. At this point, I hope he doesn't speak a word of the language. Remember how much English Sting spoke during his best WCW run? Nakamura fits nicely in that mold.
Within the first few minutes of watching Nakamura, I found myself thinking he should fight Brock Lesnar. Come to find out, that's already happened. When Lesnar did a little tour in Japan about 10 years ago, the two clashed. But, if it didn't happen in WWE, then it never happened, right?
There's a small group WWE talent that can actually step in the ring with Brock Lesnar and have it mean something. Nakamura can. That doesn't mean he will, but the fact that can be inserted into that conversation carries significant promise.
Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson
I know next to nothing about these guys. A cavalier search on YouTube didn't change that. Gallows was assigned to CM Punk's Straight Edge Society as few years ago, highlighting a brief stint in WWE. The rest of the Internet seems to have reserved excitement. From what I gathered, these are both bigger dudes who can really go in the ring.
If you Google them, you can instantly hear Vince's 1991 heart palpitations. Whether they will fit into the current tag team division remains to be seen. The early sentiment is that they will start off in NXT and frankly, I don't know enough to argue against that.
There's a lot to be inferred with the Bullet Club coming to WWE. How long ago did Cena's injury become surgical? Will Styles and Nakamura go to the main roster because WWE isn't quite so sure about the next wave of NXT talent?
NXT is turning into a hybrid of up and comers and a museum exhibit for fans to see what the best indy promotions can offer. Do Vince and WWE get some twisted satisfaction in keeping legendary indy guys in NXT? I'd like to think that vindictive intention like those died with WCW. The only thing certain is that injuries, not competition have pushed WWE into a corner. Fortunately, that's where most of WWE's best content comes from. This road to WrestleMania has been treacherous so far, but that hasn't removed much, if any intrigue. In fact, I'm hooked more than ever. WWE has been forced into improvisation and we'll all benefit.
What are your thoughts on The Bullet Club coming to WWE? Tell us in the comments below!