Recently on The Steve Austin Show, pro wrestling great Steve Austin chatted with his long time friend and colleague, Jim Ross. Among other things, the pair discussed potential WrestleMania matches and SmackDown Live’s Shinsuke Nakamura’s ongoing slump.
During the podcast, Austin and Ross shared their thoughts on RAW’s Samoa Joe. Austin called Joe “one of the best workers in the world” and Ross suggested that he would have saved a match between current WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe for WrestleMania.
“If I was booking WWE or if I had influence on the booking of WWE, or whatever, my WrestleMania main event would be Joe and Brock and I would build it and by the time we got there, people would be going crazy to see it.”
Ross continued, “for a guy like me at my stage of life, that’s the fountain of youth because that’s back to old school, two tough, legit tough son-of-a-b—–s that aren’t out there playing a role of a pro wrestler, locking up like two invalids. Locking up like two men, like two athletes of any gender.”
Additionally, Ross claimed he most interested in seeing RAW’s Braun Strowman face off against Lesnar.
“I know that somewhere down the road it’s Strowman and Lesnar. That’s foolproof, right? And I’d probably save that till WrestleMania. I know at one point, they talked about doing it at SummerSlam.” Ross reflected, “I’m curious as tow what they would get out of that match, and how athletic the big boy would be, and how Brock would be. There’s a two-way street here.”
While Austin also spoke favorably of Strowman, saying ‘The Monster Among Men’ has a lot of potential, but cautioned him not to be too athletic in the ring.
“I don’t want Braun to be too athletic and start doing stuff that is out of his wheelhouse. No, no, no, I mean stick with the ground game! Don’t need to jump off s–t!”
Aside from fantasy booking Joe versus Lesnar for WrestleMania, Ross indicated that he would like to see a blue brand battle between Nakamura and AJ Styles at WrestleMania.
“I think Shinsuke Nakamura, we haven’t seen his best yet and I think AJ Styles may be as good of a worker as I’ve seen in years. He may be the best worker in the world right now.” Ross recalled, “you felt something in the crowd at [WWE Money In The Bank] with Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ. The fans that’ve followed their career know they’ve got a great history. And they’ve, I’ve seen it, had one of the best matches I’ve ever seen with Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ. We haven’t seen that yet in Shinsuke, but that WrestleMania match would be a great wrestling match.”
Austin agreed, stating that Styles may be the best worker in the world and could bring out the best of Nakamura.
“I know that Styles is going to bring the best out of Shinsuke because I don’t think, from what I’ve seen, we’ve seen Shinsuke’s best in [WWE].” Austin added, “I’m sure he will get the best of of that guy. I’m sure they’re great friends from way back or whatever the deal is. But from what I know of AJ, if Shinsuke’s going to really work his ass off, it’s going to be with Styles.”
Austin expressed his disappointment about WWE not getting the most out of Nakamura, saying Nakamura’s work in Japan is better than his WWE work. Austin went on to say that WWE is booking Nakamura like “another Joe Blow”.
“You bring him over and he’s going 30-minute broadways with half the damn roster. Debuted down there in WrestleMania 32, NXT, with Sami Zayn, hell of a match. Hell of a match! A lot of credit to Sami Zayn and Shinsuke, but here’s ‘The King Of Strong Style’ and all-of-a-sudden, he comes in and he’s working Dolph [Ziggler] and it took him a long time to finish off Dolph for ‘The King Of Strong Style’. Do you understand where I’m going with this gimmick? That’s booking though. What is the plan? You’ve got this guy who’s one of those talents that just don’t come around every single day. He’s special. He comes in and you treat him like he’s another Joe Blow.”
Ross reminded Austin that ‘The Ringmaster’ became ‘Stone Cold’, but conceded that Nakamura, the natural heel, is in “a little bit more than “‘Ringmaster mode’, but not quite there yet” as a finished product and more aggression is needed from the former NXT Champion.
“I’ll tell [Austin] this: there was a guy called ‘The Ringmaster’ who came in that nobody thought was going to be special. Even though [Austin] had [Ted] DiBiase and all that stuff, Teddy was uncomfortable in that role and it wasn’t a natural fit, and he’ll tell you, and [Austin] sure as hell wasn’t a ringmaster, but the thing about it was [Austin] broke loose and created a different image and ‘The Ringmaster’ went away.” Ross added, “and it seems like [Nakamura]’s just a smidge under, for me, the desired aggression than I’ve seen him execute before.”
Ross purported that behind-the-scenes factors could be making Nakamura’s transition to WWE difficult. ‘Good Ol’ J.R.’ also floated the idea that ‘The Rockstar’ might be holding back in the WWE ring.
“Getting acclimated. There [are] a lot of issues there that we take for granted, that we don’t even want to take into consideration. Moving, living in Orlando [Florida] as opposed to living in for his entire life in Japan, his promotion – he was a fixture. He’d be like [Austin] leaving WWE and going to work for them, New Japan back when you were hot.” Ross said, “I wonder if he doesn’t think that him kicking as aggressively in WWE would be tolerated based on how hard he kicked in, I saw him kick in New Japan. Different feel, different style, different expectation, I don’t know. I’m not saying the talents are tougher, nothing [like that], but maybe there [are] different expectation level, but there’s something missing, something a little bit missing, in what he does, but I am encouraged to know there is greatness there. The right person, the right situation, the right angle.”
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