10 Best Wrestling Matches of 2016: #5 – Shinsuke Nakamura Vs Sami Zayn, TakeOver Dallas

This countdown isn’t in any order or declaring the definitive best, we’re just selecting ten that we Vultures loved. Find out more here.

No one on the planet is like Shinsuke Nakamura. No. One. So when the King of Strong Style arrived in the WWE, it blew a lot of English speaking minds. This wasn’t just a certified Japanese main event star, this was the Mick Jagger of wrestling. And as Dallas is my witness, no one in WWE has had a realer match with Nakamura than Sami Zayn.

 

Strong Style

Nakamura and Zayn
Image Source:
Sports Grumble

This could easily have been a simple showcase for the newly arriving Nakamura. A ten minute match full of crowd pleasing spots that made Nakamura “digestible” for the WWE masses. And there’s still a chance we’ll get this when the guy heads to Raw or Smackdown and Vince McMahon gets his paws on him. But that’s not the match we got at NXT Takeover: Dallas.

Something about Nakamura and Zayn just clicked. Movie critics love to talk about screen chemistry, but ring chemistry is something that’s often overlooked in wrestling. Nakamura has it with a lot of people, but with Zayn it was obvious right out of the gate. From some early chain wrestling right through to the dramatic finish, these two were in a war of one-upmanship.

The story was a tale of Strong Style. What was it and how did it make Nakamura special? If you’d heard the term in the weeks running up to the match you’d sure as hell found out what it meant by the time the final bell rang. Nakamura’s elbows, knees and feet were breezeblocks to the human body, and on this particular night, Zayn was that human. But like no one since, Zayn matched this in his own offense. His strikes were hard and his big moves felt big.This was as close to shoot fighting WWE had come probably since Brawl For All back in the late 90s.

 

All the Elbows

Nakamura and Zayn
Image Source:
Giant Bomb

Even with all this said, Nakamura Vs Zayn could have merely floated by as being merely very good. What made it a match of the year candidate came somewhere after the halfway mark. This was the moment its two participants dropped all the flashy moves and just traded elbows to the face. For two whole minutes. Seriously, just go back and watch how long Zayn and Nakamura spend stiffly clanging elbows into each other’s skulls. I’m not a huge fan of when wrestlers do this in matches, but Nakamura and Zayn managed to inject more drama to it than I’ve ever seen before.

From that point it was a great match. The blue thunder bomb, the failed corner post DDT, our first look at Nakamura’s Bomaye (or the Kinshasa as WWE insist on calling it), it was an exceptional finish.

Both Nakamura and Zayn have potential to headline major events for WWE. They delivered the goods here, and there’s no way this wasn’t one the best matches of the year.

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