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WrestleMania 34: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura play-by-play

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The dream match is next. AJ Style vs Shinsuke Nakamura. Even if you don’t know the history from Japan, the work these two have put in the WWE should have you excited for this match.

We start with some electric guitar shredding of Nakamura’s music into a group of people playing violins who look like they’re actually playing them. Shinsuke in all red. I dig this full live music version of Shinsuke’s theme. Nita Strauss shreds this music. The crowd naturally sings the melody.

AJ Styles in next. I think he’s only the second champion all night to come out last. Nothing special entrance wise for AJ except for the return of pyro. He drops a Too Sweet on the way down. Blue lasers spin in circles around him as he poses in the ring.
My opinion: this is going to steal the show. It should. Currently leader in the clubhouse for that for me: Charlotte vs Asuka.

Bell rings. Both spending time away, feeling each other out.

Nakamura goes for the arm early, AJ breaks. The two tie up and push around the ring but no one finds the advantage. Nakamura goes for a kick or two. AJ blocks the third and take Nakamura down, Nakamura gets up and wraps up AJ from behind on the ropes. Nakamura taunts AJ and gets a punch for his trouble. They go off the ropes and Nakamura takes AJ down with a kick. Nakamura gets a couple of knees on AJ in the corner and goes for Good Vibrations but AJ counters, throws Nakamura into the ropes and hits Shinsuke with a knee to the face. After a quick pinfall attempt, AJ hits a snap suplex. AJ goes for another one but Shinsuke hits him in the ribs and pushes him into the corner.

Shinsuke hits AJ with a couple forearms then goes off the ropes only to be caught in a back breaker by AJ. AJ continues to kick Nakamura in the back with Nakamura on the ground, follows up with a jumping knee, and gets a two count. AJ pulls back on Nakamura’s jaw while he’s on the ground. AJ transitions into a full headlock. Nakamura stands up and gets out of the headlock and tries to go off the ropes but is met by a drop kick and rolls out of the ring. AJ tries to attack Nakamura outside while on the apron but Nakamura kicks him off. AJ tries to catch Nakamura’s kick but Nakamura catches him. Nakamura climbs to the second rope and hits AJ with a kick.

Nakamura gives AJ the “come on” then follows up with three kicks, a knee in the corner, and a knee with AJ on the top rope.

This has been a good build so far in this match but the crowd seems not into it.
Nakamura gives AJ a front facelock slam. He goes for a reverse exploder but AJ reverses into a face first slam. Nakamura recovers into the corner but AJ hits him with a splash followed by a sliding forearm into a two count.

After a brief strike exchange, AJ hits Shinsuke with a pumphandle gut buster for another two count. Aj positions AJ for the Styles Clash but gets dumped to the apron. He hits Shinsuke with a forearm and goes for the Phenomenal Forearm. Shinsuke picks him off of the top rope to him AJ with the Landslide for another two count.


Shinsuke puts AJ on the top rope and positions for what looks like a superplex but AJ slides under. Shinsuke gets off the rope. AJ kicks Shinsuke in the back of the knee. Shinsuke goes for another move from the standing fireman’s carry but AJ counters into the Calf Crusher.

Crowd is still not super into the match.

Shinsuke eventually rolls out of the Calf Crusher into a triangle choke. AJ tries to stand up but goes down. AJ stands up and drops Shinsuke with some sort of package driver. Styles positions for the Styles Clash but his back gives out. Shinsuke hits him with the double kick but clutches his knee. AJ goes to the corner. Nakamura goes for a knee in the corner but AJ jumps the rope and Shinsuke hits his knee on the turnbuckle. AJ hits the Phenomenal Forearm but only gets a two count. AJ then goes for the springboard 450 but Nakamura gets his knees up and transitions to a pin for only a two count.

Both stagger to their feet. Both throw head butts. They exchange heavy forearms. Both go for their striking combos but get countered. Shinsuke hits a step-in forearm followed by a knee to the back of AJ’s head for a two count. Nakamura hits a couple of knees to AJ’s head on the ground. Nakamura hits the reverse exploder and goes for the Kinshasa. AJ reverses into the Styles Clash and pins Nakamura. AJ retains the WWE championship.

My opinion: this did not steal the show. It was good.

AJ picks Nakamura up into a hug after the match is over. The two exchange some words. Nakamura takes the title from the ref, gets down on one knee, and hands it to AJ. Nakamura hits AJ with a low blow and yells some things at him, seemingly in Japanese and kicks AJ repeatedly until he falls out of the ring. He continues giving AJ small, disrespectful kicks until the ref eventually gets him to back off. This works temporarily until Nakamura turns around and his AJ with the Kinshasa outside of the ring.

That was worth waiting for. I want to see where this goes.

Alex Mihailoff is a WWE fan who loves a good storyline and overanalyzing the WWE. He doesn’t know everything but will readily give his opinion on anything.

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