The Eternal Optimist Presents: Sorry Folks – A.J. Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura is NOT happening at Wrestlemania 34

QUESTION OF THE DAY: In the entire history of the event, what Wrestlemania booking decision infuriated you the most?

Hi kids.

I’m not going to sugar coat it. This column is not going to make you happy.

Last month, the entire internet wrestling community rejoiced when for the first time in what felt like a decade, the WWE “got it right” with the booking of the men’s Royal Rumble. Shinsuke Nakamura triumphed over both John Cena and Roman Reigns to set up the dream match against A.J. Styles at Wrestlemania 34.

This match is everything you asked for. It’s the Wrestle Kingdom 10 rematch that you all have been waiting for, although only approximately ten percent of you actually watched the first one. Go ahead. Take a pause from my column to go find the match on YouTube so that you can tell me I’m wrong and try to pretend like you’re “in the know” in my comments. I’ll wait here.

All joking aside, it’s the perfect complement to Roman Reigns v Brock Lesnar, the casual fan friendly main event we are destined to get on the Raw side. You are willing to tolerate the inevitability of that match as long as you get the one you crave for the Smackdown strap. The WWE knows this and wouldn’t possibly take this from you….right?


A.J. Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura is NOT going to happen at Wrestlemania 34.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but the truth hit me in the face like a ton of bricks this week. The WWE called an audible and changed the Triple Threat Match between Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn to a Fatal Five Way with the inclusion of Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler.

The WWE doesn’t just throw things together in a haphazard manner. They didn’t flip the script without having a purpose behind doing so. Adding Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin to the match means only one thing. One of those two is walking out as World Champion.

According to an article in Sports Illustrated, Dolph Ziggler just re-signed with the WWE for a whopping 1.5 million dollars a year. That number is both eye-popping and mind numbingly high for a wrestler in his position. Only the very top of the food chain makes that kind of coin. If the WWE is paying Dolph main event level money, it’s a LOCK that he’ll be pushed to the moon. Could that push start at Fast Lane with a world title win and main event level match at Wrestlemania? Sure. Do I think it’s going to happen? No.

When discussing why I thought Baron Corbin would win the Royal Rumble last month, I detailed the time and energy that the WWE has already put into making him a main event player. I was convinced that Vince McMahon would NEVER put on a Wrestlemania World Title match that catered to the diehards. Instead, Corbin lasted less than 90 seconds and my Facebook messenger immediately exploded with mockery and laughter. That’s right Richard Latta, I’m looking at you.

The Royal Rumble booking made me second guess myself on how I perceived Vince’s mind to operate in 2018. Maybe he really was done with the Baron and maybe he was finally ready to embrace the kind of main event that the IWC wanted.

Alas, the helicopter booking that we saw on Smackdown restored my faith Vince’s lack of humanity. He hates Indy wrestlers. He doesn’t like Asian wrestlers and has never booked them strongly. He had a chance to put Nakamura over at Summerslam and passed on it. He never intended to put the title back on Styles. He needed to get the belt off Jinder Mahal and A.J. was the only reasonably warm body available. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence to show that Vince isn’t particularly fond of either Styles or Nakamura.

The Royal Rumble was a red herring. Vince was tired of seeing the vocal minority that showed up to the Rumble hijack the event. He threw them a bone with the intent of doing something much more sinister. He gave them hope only to crush it at the last possible moment. It’s textbook Vinnie Mac. This is the same man that books hometown wrestlers to lose almost every time out. This is the same man that brought Sting in for a much hyped debut only to get beat by Triple H for the sole reason of showing that the WWE is superior to WCW fifteen years after the battle was already won. He enjoys makings his fans squirm and ripping out their hearts just when they wanted to believe.

Baron Corbin is his guy. Vince has shown that at almost every turn. A.J. Styles and Nakamura are not his guys. A.J. being removed from the world title match provides Shane McMahon with a reasonable tag partner from a storyline standpoint to square off against KO and Zayn. Sure, just last week I argued that Shane would most likely be left off the Wrestlemania card. I was wrong again. For me to think that Vince would REALLY leave his son off the biggest show of the year was a completely ludicrous thought. Of course he’ll be there and he’ll likely drag A.J. Styles, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn down with him.

Not only do I expect Baron Corbin to win his first world title at Fast Lane, but I think he’ll BEAT Nakamura at Wrestlemania. Vince simply isn’t going to strap the rocket ship to a guy he can’t trust with a microphone for more than ten seconds at a time.

To think that Vince McMahon would “never rob you of this dream match” is nothing more than unsubstantiated naivety. Vince McMahon loves to take away your favorite toy. This is what he does.

Go ahead. Bury your head in the sand for the next several weeks. Ignorance is bliss. Your Wrestlemania hopes and dreams will be dashed in short order. A.J. Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura is NOT going to happen.

That’s a wrap kids. Thank you for reading. Sound off below!

Facebook: David Fenichel
Twitter: @FFFightLeague

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