BROOKLYN, N.Y. — For all the talk of Shinsuke Nakamura being an artist, it was Jinder Mahal who painted his masterpiece in Brooklyn, knocking off The King of Strong Style to retain the WWE Championship that has become as much a part of his DNA as his Punjabi heritage.
Which isn’t to say that WWE’s Rockstar was a deer in headlights in the biggest match of his career to date. In fact, if not for Samir and Sunil Singh, we might have a new champion, as Nakamura showed from the start of the bout that his unorthodox finesse was more than up to the task of matching The Modern Day Maharaja’s power. It didn’t hurt that he wormed his way into Mahal’s head early on, forcing the champion to charge headlong into some strong style elbows and knees.
He did not, however, account for The Singh Brothers, who first made themselves known by distracting Nakamura to hand Mahal his first advantage of the contest. What Mahal’s strategy lacked in subtlety, it made up for in effect: Tremendous stomps to Nakamura’s sternum and half-nelson chinlocks that threatened to turn The King of Strong Style into a human knot.
Nakamura eventually created enough separation to answer with kicks, kicks and more kicks, plus some jumping knees to the chest. When Mahal again attempted to use his power, Nakamura transitioned to a triangle hold and suplex facebuster to cut him off. Even after Nakamura missed a Kinshasa attempt, Mahal found himself unable to put the bout away, suffering a Kinshasa to the back of his head when he missed a charge into the post.
As The King of Strong Style prepared to administer his signature knee one final time, The Singh Brothers again interfered, climbing onto the apron. This time, Nakamura left nothing to chance, obliterating the two brothers with elbows, kicks and Kinshasas while, unbeknownst to him, Mahal recovered. With The Singhs dispatched, the champion snuck behind Nakamura, locked in the Cobra Clutch, and executed the Khallas to retain his title.
While the WWE Universe reacted in a mix of shock, despair and revulsion, Mahal reveled in his latest ill-gotten if no less biding victory, leaving the Brooklyn faithful to reconcile with one simple fact: The Nakamura Dynasty may yet begin, but the sun has not set on The Maharaja’s modern day.