At the conclusion of the WWE Championship match between 2018 Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura and WWE Champion AJ Styles, Nakamura congratulated Styles for defeating him and retaining the title. Nakamura praised Styles after the match, going down to one knee and handing Styles the title in an act of appreciation and honor.
Then, shockingly, Nakamura executed a low blow to Styles, followed by further assault, turning heel for the first time since being the leader of the New Japan Pro Wrestling CHAOS stable from 2009-2013. This also led to Nakamura attacking both Styles and Daniel Bryan during their match on SmackDown Live this past Tuesday, particularly putting a greater emphasis toward his attack on Styles.
During the match at WrestleMania, the live crowd was obviously fatigued due to the show already being long up to this point, as well as the emotional roller coaster that was the Kurt Angle/Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon match.
Former World Heavyweight Champion Christian shared his thoughts on a recent episode of E&C's Pod of Awesomeness on the lack of fan excitement during a large portion of the Styles vs. Nakamura match, stating that the fan fatigue affected the overall perception of the match.
"Sometimes the crowd can affect the perception of a match, [and] I think it happened during this one a little bit," said Christian. "I think that's where it started to happen when the crowd was getting fatigued. Especially, when it's two guys that are babyfaces. And, there's the title on the line, but emotionally, what else is going on? And I think what they did after the match meant more than anything that did in the match."
Christian compared the Styles vs. Nakamura story to when he was feuding with Randy Orton.
"I was thinking about the babyface match I had for the world title with Randy Orton when we wrestled at Over the Limit, and I was thinking, what's the difference between that and this other than one was at Over the Limit and one was at WrestleMania? So, what I was thinking about is the emotion was not good guy - bad guy, heel - babyface. The emotion was, this guy who we've wanted to see at this level for like 17 years has been scratching and clawing and finally won it.
"And then, had it snatched from a guy who's been patented as 'the golden boy' for years and years, and has been molded to be a top superstar gets it back after a couple of days. People didn't want to see me lose it yet. That was the emotion. 'Can he get it back? Can he get back to that level already, so quickly after he worked so hard to get there?' People liked me, but they didn't like what happened. That was the emotion.
"On this one, they liked both guys, so [fans] are just kinda choosing a side. There's nothing else. So, to me, now I can really sink my teeth into this, because I think Nakamura now is gonna do better work. I think he's gonna work more with a chip on his shoulder, I think he's gonna work more aggressively. He works aggressive anyway, I think he's gonna have a mean streak that he hasn't had before, and I think it's gonna amp up, and I think he's done himself a huge favor by the aggression he had after the match, in my opinion."
Edge added that Nakamura turning heel was the right thing to do, and he is looking forward to some "pretty cool stuff" that will develop in this feud against Styles with Nakamura as the heel.
If any portion of these quotes are used, be sure to credit E&C's Pod of Awesomeness via Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod of Awesomeness