Survivor Series Preview: AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura vs Roderick Strong (11/24/19)

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Styles vs Strong vs Nakamura
Credit: WWE

Oooooo boy. When it was announced that NXT would be taking part in Survivor Series this year for the first time ever, fans couldn’t help but speculate on what the matches would be. The prospect of a Seth Rollins vs Adam Cole vs Brock Lesnar match was exciting, Shayna Baszler vs Becky Lynch vs Bayley vs tantalizing, but it was the mid-card that brought the most intriguing possibility. The thought of NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong taking on United States Champion AJ Styles taking on Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura was one that not unlike sugarplums, danced through the heads of fans as they anticipated the Survivor Series card.

And while Rollins vs Cole vs Lesnar didn’t materialize, this match did, and on Sunday night, it’s expected, unsurprisingly, to steal the whole show. That’s because these are three of not only the best wrestlers in WWE, but three men who match up incredibly well stylistically. Expect some hard-hitting and impressive action when these three share a ring for the first time.

In 1998, AJ Styles made his pro wrestling debut. Two years later, the world began to know Roderick Strong. And two years after that, the King of Strong Style wrestled his first match. Each debuting two years apart, Styles, Strong and Nakamura have all spent their careers defining wrestling through the companies they primarily called home. Styles helped put TNA on the map and is one of the most influential wrestlers the promotion has ever had. For Strong, the moniker Mr. ROH was more than just a gimmick. The 35-year-old spent 14 years of his 19-year career with Ring of Honor and won just about every title he could. Then there’s Nakamura, who holds both the longest-reigning and most reigns of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship within New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Six years, three debuts that all helped to define three different companies, and a career that totals nearly 60 years in the ring. And now, all three men, Styles, Strong and Nakamura, who at one point represented each of the major companies outside of WWE at the time, will put the talent that got them signed to WWE on full display.

On July 14th, at Extreme Rules, WWE reset their midcard scene, as Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Finn Balor to win the Intercontinental Championship and AJ Styles defeated Ricochet to claim the United States Championship. The two men, who have faced off no shortage of 50 times in their career (including live events), both, perhaps fittingly, began their title reigns at the same time. Styles has successfully defended his title seven times, Nakamura four times. On separate brands these days, the two last wrestled on September 23rd in a fatal five-way elimination #1 contendership match for the Universal Championship that was won by Rey Mysterio.

Five days earlier, the third participant in this match, won his title, his first singles gold since joining WWE in 2016.

On September 18th, Roderick Strong won the NXT North American Championship, completing the prophecy. Undisputed ERA found itself fully draped in gold, all the gold, much as Adam Cole had said they would at the beginning of the year. Strong has made just one defense of the title so far, a victory over Dominik Dijakovic and Keith Lee. But along with the rest of NXT’s top faction, Strong has been present week after week on SmackDown and Raw, causing havoc for both brands. On November 22nd, he made his SmackDown debut, and alongside Cole, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, was victorious. The ERA have also found themselves engaged with the OCs (Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson), which has in part, helped build to the match on Sunday.

Strong and Styles are no strangers to one another, having faced off in ROH, TNA, NWA and PWG, where Strong defeated Styles in the second round of the Battle of Los Angeles. Strong and Nakamura too have faced off, the first time on ROH TV in 2015. The two wrestled a great 17+ minute match, that could be indicative of what we’ll see on Sunday. Styles and Nakamura have also wrestled classics, normally their widely talked about WrestleKingdom X showdown. The duo has also feuded over the WWE Championship on two separate occasions.

Combined, these three men have won nearly 100 championships in their career, 45 of which belong to Styles, who is one of the winningest wrestlers in history and the only person to have ever claimed world title gold in NWA, TNA, ROH, NJPW, PWG and WWE. Strong has won 20 titles and Nakamura has claimed 17.

But belts won’t be on the line on Sunday, only bragging rights as we find out what happens when you put a former TNA guy, NJPW guy, and ROH guy all in the same ring. Sparks will fly as this might not only be the match of the night but could very well garner some match of the year attention as well.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch Survivor Series via the WWE Network.

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