Get out your bag of stars Dave Meltzer because WWE is headed back to Tokyo, Japan and has confirmed a huge fatal-4-way planned for the second night of shows on June 30th. For the first time ever, a quartet of indie legends, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura will share the ring in a WWE Championship match.
We can officially chalk this show up in the category of, “Please, pretty please with a cherry on top, make this a WWE Network special. Please.”
According to wwelive.jp, which updated the card on June 13th, AJ Styles will battle Shinsuke Nakamura one-on-one in a No DQ championship match on the first night of the tour, something that will be a mere appetizer for this blockbuster fatal-4-way. Also scheduled to appear on the Smackdown Live based show is 205 Live roster member, Hideo Itami, who is set to face the Miz on night one and Big Cass on night two.
The fatal-4-way in and of itself is quite the dream match. Because over the years we’ve gotten Joe vs Bryan, Styles vs Joe, Joe vs Nakamura, Bryan vs Styles, Nakamura vs Styles, etc. We’ve never gotten anything quite like this, which is a match featuring four of Smackdown’s top superstars, all of whom have crossed paths individually but not always collectively over their extended independent careers.
vs. Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson/American Dragon
(Singles H2H: 3-3; Title Matches: 2; Total Matches: 8)
Daniel Bryan has had several different monikers over his career and he’s faced AJ Styles while using every single one. Bryan and Styles’ first match came in Ring of Honor at All Star Extravaganza in 2002, during ROH’s first year in existence. Their match, which was preceded by Bryan going over 30 minutes in a separate gauntlet qualifier for the #1 contendership for the title, ran just over 22 minutes. Styles and Bryan met again, at least once in each of the next four years, their battles extending beyond ROH and into IWA-MS and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.
Styles and Bryan met for the first time in WWE in 2018, over 12 years since they had last wrestled for the title in Ring of Honor. The two teamed up for the first time ever a week later, victorious against Rusev Day (Aiden English and Rusev).
vs. Samoa Joe
(Singles H2H: 4-9; Title Matches: 16; Total Matches: 79)
Undoubtedly one of AJ Styles’ biggest and most influential career rivals is Samoa Joe. The two first met in 2003 at ROH’s Beating the Odds in a fatal-4-way, which was won by Jay Briscoe and also featured Chris Sabin. A few months later, Joe and Styles received a tag team championship shot against Jay and his brother Mark Briscoe but were unsuccessful. Just a day after that match, Joe and Styles battled for Joe’s ROH World Heavyweight title in the first of many classic matches the two would put on.
2004 saw Joe, Styles and Bryan meet for the first and so far only time in their career in the finals of the IWA:MS championship tournament. Styles won after pinning Joe.
In 2005, Joe and Styles had their first match in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling at TNA Sacrifice ’05. The two, who became huge stars for the company especially in it’s X-Division, contested for that title several times over the next few years, alongside Christopher Daniels. Together, the trio made up part of TNA’s core group and seemed to constantly be embroiled in feuds with and against one another. That same year, the three took part in TNA’s only Dave Meltzer five-star rated match, which was won by Styles who retained his NWA X-Division title in the process.
It wasn’t until 2010 however, that Styles and Joe had their first singles feud over Styles’ world championship. As of June 18, their last match was a dark match where they teamed up to defeat Daniels and longtime partner Frankie Kazarian at TV tapings for the ROH Aftershock tour in 2015. Their last singles match was in 2013. It ended in a draw. Joe has teased getting in the ring with Styles in WWE and that could happen very soon, especially if Styles needs a new #1 contender for the WWE Championship.
vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
(Singles H2H: 2-2; Title Matches: 5; Total Matches: 27)
Given all of the praise this match still gets its hard to believe that when Shinsuke Nakamura faced AJ Styles for the IWGP Championship at WrestleKingdom 10 in 2016, that it was the first and only singles match the two would have in New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Styles first faced Nakamura in 2008 when he partnered with Hiroshi Tanahashi in a losing effort against Nakamura and Kurt Angle. The two wouldn’t meet again for seven years where Nakamura’s team once again got the win, this time over Styles and his Bullet Club mates at the NJPW World Tag League. Styles finally defeated Nakamura a few days later when he teamed with Yujiro Takahashi and Nakamura with Tomohiro Ishii. Then came WrestleKingdom and after that, Styles and Nakamura had their last match, another tag, which was won by Styles and Kenny Omega against Nakamura and YOSHI-HASHI at New Year Dash!!
In 2017, with both in WWE, Styles and Nakamura teamed up for their first televised match, defeating the pair of Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens on an episode of Smackdown Live. The two continued to work as a tag team both on TV and for dark matches but it wasn’t until Wrestlemania 34 that they had only their second singles match of all-time, which this time was won by Styles. Nakamura turned heel following the match and he and Styles have been in the midst of a feud ever since, most recently culminating in a last man standing match at Money in the Bank, which was again, won by Styles.
vs. Daniel Bryan
(Singles H2H: 4-2; Title Matches: 5; Total Matches: 24)
With the exception of four matches, Samoa Joe’s feud with Daniel Bryan lived in Ring of Honor during the four years the two spent together. The two first locked up at ROH’s first ever Final Battle in 2002, where they were part of a four-way draw also featuring Low Ki and Steve Corino.
Bryan and Joe had their first singles match a month later which was won by Joe. A month after that, Bryan got the win. In 2004, Bryan teamed up with Joe to take on the Briscoes for the tag team titles before going right back to facing each other by the end of the year. Bryan and Joe fought over the world title in ROH three separate times, each winning once and drawing a third time. Their most recent singles bout came in 2006 when Bryan defeated Joe in a steel cage to retain the title.
It wasn’t until about a month ago that Joe and Bryan had their first meeting in WWE, which was part of a triple threat with Big Cass. Joe was victorious and as a result, earned his way into the Money in the Bank ladder match.
vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
(Singles H2H: 1-4; Title Matches: 5; Total Matches: 49)
Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura’s story has almost exclusively taken place within NXT, with only one of their matches, Survivor Series from 2017 (Joe was Team Raw; Nakamura was Team Smackdown), occurring elsewhere. In many ways, Joe’s feud with Nakamura over the NXT Championship was historic as it led to both men becoming two-time NXT Champions. To this day, they are still the only two to have accomplished this feat, with Joe becoming the first man to ever be a two-time champ for the black-and-yellow brand.
Joe and Nakamura had their first match on April 15, 2016 at an NXT house show in Orlando. It was won by Nakamura. Less than a week later, Joe defeated Finn Balor at another house show to win the NXT title. This led to a series of tag team matches where Nakamura and Balor joined forces against Joe and various partners including Tye Dillinger, Elias, Austin Aries and Bobby Roode. These all took place on house shows or dark matches for tapings. It wasn’t until TakeOver: Brooklyn II in August of that year, that the two went one-on-one on a televised broadcast in the NXT Championship match. Once again, Nakamura was the winner.
The two continued to work against each other while teaming up with various partners in the lead-up to TakeOver: Toronto, where Joe defeated Nakamura for the title and his only victory in their head-to-head. A month later, in Osaka, Japan, Nakamura regained the championship during an episode of NXT. Joe and Nakamura had one more title match during TV tapings in Melbourne, where Nakamura retained the belt inside a steel cage. Both have yet to meet in a singles match on the main roster.
vs. AJ Styles (see above)
(Singles H2H: 9-4; Title Matches: 16; Total Matches: 79)
vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
(Singles H2H: 1-0; Titles Matches: 0; Total Matches: 4)
Daniel Bryan has been in over 1,300 matches in his pro wrestling career which began almost 20 years ago in December 1999. He’s wrestled just about everyone in that time which was spent largely split between Ring of Honor, where he was a Founding Father, and WWE, where he achieved the greatest moments of his career.
In all of that time, however, all of those years, all of those matches, Daniel Bryan and Shinsuke Nakamura had never faced each other one-on-one. That’s since changed thanks to a WWE dark match from May but aside from that, the two have never properly locked up. During an excursion to NJPW, the two did find themselves in a series of tag team matches, including most notably in October 2004 when the team of Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Nakamura defeated the duo of Bryan and Minoru Suzuki. At the time, Bryan and Nakamura were roommates and Bryan has since said if there is one person he still wants to face one-on-one in his career, it would be Nakamura.
It’s very likely that feud is coming especially since Nakamura seems to be wrapped up with Styles and Joe would appear to be the next likely contender for the championship. That leaves Nakamura and Bryan, who should be wrapped up things with Big Cass, left without dancing partners. A Summerslam showdown for the two to have their first proper match would be ideal.