When I wrote about whether or not Shinsuke Nakamura should have won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 34, the one thing almost everybody said when answering “no” was that he didn’t speak English. WWE has a history of making any international superstars instant heels upon arriving on the main roster.
We didn’t see this with Nakamura simply because of how over he was coming up from his glory days in NXT. But now WWE has resorted back to the classic foreign heel gimmick, and how they’re doing it with Shinsuke is brilliant.
Whether you loved him or hated him before his official heel turn at WrestleMania, it was clear Shinsuke Nakamura wasn’t the greatest speaker of the English language. Many people, including myself, tried to defend him in saying that he had only been in the United States for a few years but that he was getting better. The classic other side of the argument was that a WWE Champion needs to be good on the mic, and Nakamura can’t fulfill that role.
Not only is that not a problem anymore, but WWE creative is also using that language barrier as a heel tactic. It’s absolutely brilliant! Now Nakamura can use this in two ways: to get out of interviews or promo spots as to not have to struggle through speaking, or get under the ‘rah-rah U.S.A!!!’ crowd’s skin because reasons… It has worked so well over the past couple weeks of usage, that I genuinely pop every time Nakamura says, “Sorry, no speak English.”
Nakamura already has enough street cred from his wrestling abilities. The only thing, according to fans, that was holding him back from being the face of the company was a language barrier. So to answer the question of whether or not he can be THE heel in WWE… of course he can be. The best way to develop a heel character is to have him or her catch on to what annoys or angers the WWE Universe and uses it in their favour.
It’s always so much fun to watch beloved baby faces turn heel and seeing if they can keep up with the momentum they had as a fan favourite. I believe Nakamura will be better as a heel. His character was growing stale and fans were clearly starting to lose interest. Yes, there was a huge celebration when he won the Royal Rumble, but you would be lying to yourself if you didn’t admit the celebration was escalated because he beat Roman Reigns.
I love Shinsuke and I am so excited to see how this plays out. The rematch between AJ Styles and Nakamura is going to be everything we wanted from the first one. If one thing is true, it’s that his heel run won’t be as disappointing as the Superstar Shake Up… Samoa Joe to Smackdown Live… Really WWE?!?
By: Patrick Gallagher
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