SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Off the heels of last night’s Smackdown main event that featured Shinsuke Nakamura and others in a Gauntlet Match to crown the number one contender for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble, WWE announced Nakamura vs. Jey Uso for Smackdown next week.
During last night’s main event, Nakamura defeated Rey Mysterio, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan, before being pinned by the final entrant, Adam Pearce. Roman Reigns and Uso decimated Nakamura before his bout with Pearce officially began. Because of that, Nakamura was defeated and lost out on an opportunity to face Reigns for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble.
— WWE (@WWE) January 9, 2021
Heydorn’s Analysis: If you had doubts as to whether or not Shinsuke Nakamura turned babyface last night during the Gauntlet Match, this announcement should clear those up. Nakamura was framed as a babyface on commentary throughout last night’s match and was the benefactor of the sympathy that last night’s finishing angle provided. Maybe he’s on a path to face Roman Reigns, maybe he isn’t, but his character appears to be headed in a new direction. We’ve seen Nakamura run out of steam as a babyface, but if last night’s short match in the gauntlet with Daniel Bryan is any indication, he still has the means to turn it on when he wants to. A character shift could be an easy way to get him reengaged so as to see more of those types of performances out of him. Time will tell.
CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S SMACKDOWN ALT PERSPECTIVE REPORT: LECLAIR’S WWE SMACKDOWN REPORT 1/9: Alt perspective, detailed coverage of #1 Contender’s Gauntlet match, Big E vs. Crews, Street Profits vs. Roode & Ziggler, more