On WrestleMania Sunday, both AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura had a solid match for the WWE Championship, however it didn’t live up to expectations due to the fans expecting a New Japan-esque wrestling match on a WWE stage. However, this match did give the fans a chance to see the versatility of the Nakamura character. This was the start of a new entertaining heel turn that would see Nakamura “low blowing” “The Phenomenal One” AJ Syles every chance that he got.
Fast forward to The Greatest Royal Rumble. The Match quality became better, however the match did end in controversy with a double count out. A third match would happen nine days later at Backlash where Smackdown General Manager Paige would declare that this would be a No Disqualification match. No count outs included in the stipulations. After a better than expected match that yet again, ended in shenanigans due to a rousing game of Roshambo, the match ended in a double fault where neither one of them could answer to a count of ten. This became so out of hand, Paige gave these two one more match on the 15th of May edition of Smackdown Live that actually had a definitive winner. Nakamura won with a Kinshasa and would declare a “Last Man Standing” match a week later as the choice to finally end the rivalry between the two.
According to Pro Wrestling Wikia, the definition of a Last Man Standing match is a match in which two wrestlers fight until one of them is knocked out or unable to fight anymore. The referee must count to ten while the wrestler is laying down and the last man standing wins the match.
In WWE alone, there have been forty of these said matches, the last one being Kane vs. Braun Strowman on the 29th of January 2018 edition of Raw, which Strowman would win. From Triple H vs. Chris Jericho at Fully Loaded 2000 to Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens at the 2016 Royal Rumble, the Last Man Standing Match typically on all accounts deliver big on any card needing a boost and with Nakamura vs. AJ Styles being the match potentially closing the show, this could cause some great moments to add to the highlight real of Last Man Standing matches moving forward.
Due to the rumors of the men’s Money in the Bank winner being a Smackdown roster member, this match truly is an outlier of who might be the next to hold the WWE Champion. Coming into Chicago, the heels of Smackdown in the likes of Samoa Joe, The Miz and even Rusev are gaining some positive momentum entering into the Allstate Arena and each of them are crafty enough in their own right to interfere and cause both men to feel screwed over as the Money in the Bank holder to be champion. However, that may not happen. We might have a definitive and decisive winner, but if you want a place for a star to be born, Chicago is the place and that could be either Nakamura’s moment to shine, putting an end to the 210+ day WWE Championship reign of AJ Styles, or establish Samoa Joe, Miz or Rusev as the top heel of the Smackdown Live brand. At this point, it makes the most sense for Samoa Joe to cash in at that moment.
Winner: Samoa Joe via Cash In turning the match to a standard Triple Threat Match.