Just days away from perhaps the biggest match of his career against Chris Jericho at Wrestle Kingdom 12, NJPW star Kenny Omega has been speaking out about WWE to the media.
In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, Omega shared his opinions of how former NJPW icon Shinsuke Nakamura has come across in WWE since he signed with the company in 2016.
Omega, who has frequently been outspoken regarding WWE, suggested that Nakamura has yet to do anything compelling since his move to America.
I’m happy for the response that he’s getting, of course, and all of us in New Japan knew when he left that he was going to get over with his charisma. But when I see Nakamura in WWE, it’s hard for me to say he’s done anything compelling in-ring since he’s been there, which is a shame. It will just take the one right story and the one right moment and then people will be captivated by everything that he does. Right now, he hasn’t had that.
Nakamura has been criticised in some quarters for an apparent lack of motivation in WWE, and while there have been some highlights, he has lacked the intensity which made him such a star in Japan.
The charisma of Nakamura is not in doubt however, and he has been forced to feud with the likes of Jinder Mahal in 2017 which has not suited his skillset.
For Omega, part of the problem lies in WWE’s desire to manage everything to the tiniest degree.
Everything in WWE is super over-booked. Some people in WWE even need the steps and their footing in the ring choreographed. They have to pace their breathing before they even go through with a match in the ring.
This ethos goes against the Japanese mentality of wrestling, an observation also noted by Omega.
When you’re used to dealing with people who need that match management, who need to have that much choreography in their matches before they go out there and perform, then when a guy like Nakamura – who is this new age ‘strong style,’ and a lot of that is based off emotion and feeling and fighting spirit – wrestles someone who needs marks on the ring so that he can get his footing right with a set of instructions, that’s where Nakamura’s style gets lost in translation. Everything starts to come across as soulless, if that makes any sense.
2018 will be a pivotal year for Nakamura in WWE, and he may do well take some of Omega’s comments on board.
A potential Wrestlemania clash with WWE Champion AJ Styles has been mooted, and a Royal Rumble victory could be the catalyst for true success on the main roster for Nakamura, but perhaps he needs to find a new meaning ahead of a new year.
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