Vince McMahon has no long term plan or vision for Shinsuke Nakamura. Someone can feel free to try to change my mind, but I’m going to need some actual evidence. Vince McMahon HAD no long term plan for Rusev.
Rusev has been a rudderless ship (if rudderless ships can sell tons of merch) since he did the favors for John Cena at Wrestlemania 31. In Nakamura’s case, somehow he won the Royal Rumble by eliminating Roman Reigns and Cena, only to fall out of favor and lose to AJ Styles at Wrestlemania. The internet will tell you that Nakamura isn’t champion because he’s lazy and isn’t having ****1/2 matches on Smackdown. Unfortunately for the internet, just like always, they’re wrong. Vince has never cared about stars, he cares about dollars, and for whatever reason, he doesn’t see money in Nakamura.
So Nakamura gets a secondary title, the United States Championship, and Rusev gets…big pops still. It’s a natural match that WWE doesn’t always get enough credit for making. Sometimes the best matches are when two guys who are over, who also have nothing else going on, just have a match. I say, Let them fight!
Brian James did just that on tonight’s episode of Smackdown Live. The match was a nice back and forth affair with both stars getting all of their material in. The crowd was engaged throughout the entire match, popping for all of the high spots. That’s perfectly good wrestling, especially toward the end of a three day WWE programming bender.
The match ended with Aiden English distracting Rusev, and Nakamura sneaking in for the roll up finish. Not a bad match, but the finish was just a bridge for Aiden English attacking Rusev after the bell and arrogantly dropping “Happy Rusev Day” on his fallen former friend. At least one half of the match has a nice program going forward.