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Shinsuke Nakamura debuted on Smackdown Live last week to a thunderous response, and his final appearance on the NXT brand (aside from a spot on the UK tour this summer) was just as charged.

The former NJPW champion has been a huge part of NXT’s unique appeal over the past year – filling a titanic void left by former champions Finn Bálor and Samoa Joe, captivating audiences both live and at home – and the move up to Smackdown hardly comes as a surprise, but Wednesdays just got a little less special. Sure, there’s a ton of promising talent coming up, but Shinsuke’s place as one of the yellow brand’s two-time champions and crowd favourite has been hard earned, a uniquely energetic athlete and performer hard to beat and impossible to equal in many ways.

Whether Bálor’s cameo was kayfabe or a genuine surprise, it was great to see the locker room pay their respects to Nakamura before his departure.

The NXT locker room filed out for a round of applause after Nakamura addressed the crowd. Seeing a unanimous display of respect like that is so rare, but if any show was going to do it, it’d be NXT. Nakamura’s raw charisma and legendary skill in the ring is sure to take him to even greater heights on Smackdown Live.

SHINSUKE NAKAMURA:

  • Three-time IGWP Heavyweight Champion
  • Five-time IGWP Intercontinental Champion
  • Youngest IGWP Heavyweight Champion (Age 23)
  • Two-time NXT Champion
  • Trained with Brock Lesnar at his personal gym to gain muscle mass and develop his abilities.
  • Finishes opponents with the Kinshasa – a powerful running knee strike to the head, delivered by the same legs that shattered Austin Aries’ eyesocket.

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