Today, let’s take a look at the United States title match coming up at SummerSlam 2018. As of writing time this match will be between former champion Jeff Hardy and current champion, Shinsuke Nakamura. There’s a real good chance that Randy Orton will be added to this match so he will be discussed as well.
The United States title is the secondary title for Smackdown. Hardy and Orton are both former World champions and Nakamura will most likely win it one day as well. When wrestlers of this caliber fight for a secondary title it makes that belt mean something. It’s not for the rookies, it’s not for people who cant make it up to the World title level (although it can be for both of these). Right now its so competitive at the top that even the top guys are fighting for every title.
Jeff Hardy is a former US, Intercontinental, tag, and World champion. He has a car crash style of wrestling where he will throw himself off of anything and onto anyone in hopes that he does more damage to his opponent than he does to himself. It’s a spectacular style to see but it also does damage to him repeatedly. Possibly the leading reason why Hardy has a long history of drug abuse/problems. He always comes back from it, with a new focus and energy, but it is easy fodder for a bad guy to manipulate.
Nakamura was already a star in Japan. For the newer fans reading this there is no need to explain wrestling in other countries but let’s say that in Japan professional wrestling is treated as a sport. Covered the same way, and respected in the same way. Nakamura was a Japanese World champion and finally someone in the WWE got smart enough to make an offer and bring him over to the United States. To go back to the MLB comparison in earlier posts, its similar to bringing in a Ichiro Suzuki or Hideki Matsui. Stars already in their home countries who brought that notoriety to a new land and were successful there as well. Nakamura is known as “the artist” and its evident in his work. He makes his wrestling style into a performance. There are echoes of Prince, Michael Jackson and others there that he weaves into a character not only in the ring but the entire time he’s in front of the fans. The only flaw is in his switch from good to bad, when he resorted to underhand tactics. In any team sport its disappointing to watch an incredible back and forth game only to have it decided on a technicality. And that’s what many of his great matches this year ended on.
Randy Orton is another one who has won every title presented to him in WWE. He is a third generation wrestler and arguably the most successful one, second only to The Rock. He has a very slow methodical pace that is jarring in its difference to other wrestlers on the card but impressive once the viewer is used to it. It is a stalking, dissecting method of taking apart his opponent. Akin to a slasher horror movie villain. And Orton is much better as a villain. He has been a cheered hero in the past but his style and the aura he exudes works much better as a bad guy.
It will be an interesting clash of styles that will either gel into greatness or fall apart to a missed attempt at something different.
(Side note: I’m trying to not use wrestling terminology in these posts but I also think this might be a necessary piece of knowledge for the newer fans I’ll be attending SummerSlam with. In a future “wrestling glossary” post which words should be included?)