Starting at the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles defeats Owens & Zayn through some antics on Shane McMahon's part that leads to a different storyline that I intend to write about. However, we'll continue with the Royal Rumble down the line. During the Rumble, Shinsuke Nakamura enters at #16. He gets a big pop but he's kinda tucked away in the action. He's there in the last 6 and begins to wreck havoc. He gets fired up and throws 2 of the last 6 over-the-top rope and brings it down to 4 people. He faces an elimination scare, but is narrowly saved by another one of the last 4. 2 more are eliminated while Nakamura plays a smaller role in the last sequences of those eliminated. Basically, Nakamura wins the Rumble. The following SmackDown, Nakamura decides to face the WWE Champion at WrestleMania. However, it starts out to be a competitive friendship. Zayn & Owens refuse to let Styles continue and continuously attack him and to finally end the feud, Styles and a mystery parter will face Owens & Zayn in a Steel Cage match at Fastlane. It's continuously hinted that Nakamura will be the partner, but he refuses because he doesn't want to get tangled up in his opponents' affairs and that it's better for him to not be his partner because it might weaken his opponent for Mania. However, when Styles can't get a partner and appears for his match at Fastlane, dejected and nervous for the 2-on-1 match. Just before the bell rings, Nakamura enters to help Styles out. The match is won by Styles and Nakamura after a good back-and-forth. As they celebrate, Nakamura attacks Styles. Nakamura destroys Styles before picking up the WWE Championship and laying it on Styles. The following SmackDown, Nakamura explains that he did what he thought Owens & Zayn couldn't do - take down AJ Styles. Styles is storyline written off with rib and orbital injuries after the kicks and Kinshasa's that he suffered at Fastlane. After around 2 weeks, in which Nakamura takes down numerous top faces that attempt to talk sense into Nakamura like Orton, Roode and others, Styles returns to take his revenge. The following SmackDown, Nakamura & Mahal face Styles & Roode (mind you, Mahal won the US title from Roode in the final by cheating and a rematch was set for Mania). Nakamura picks up the win over Roode and as Mahal begins beating down Roode, Nakamura takes down Styles. The last SmackDown before Mania is where the contract signing will take place. Nakamura and Styles take to the ring, but Daniel Bryan has the ring enforced with security to keep them separate. Nakamura explains that he is targeting Styles because he realized that being friends with others led him nowhere. He was on-top in Japan, and in NXT but since arrive in SmackDown he's always been there for others and he's gotten nothing but backlash from the fans and tag matches in the midcard. Styles explains that he didn't get anything because he didn't win, not because he was friends with others. The argument gets heated and after Nakamura taunts Styles, Styles attempts to fight Nakamura but they're split up. They slip through the cracks and they land hefty blows that leaves Nakamura with a busted mouth. The show ends with Nakamura bleeding and Styles being pulled away. During WrestleMania, Nakamura and Styles take part in a classic match like their WrestleKingdom 10 match. Similarly, Nakamura takes the win over Styles. Styles lets his emotions get in the way and instead of pinning after numerous crucial moments in which the match is won, Styles continues his beat down which leads Styles tiring himself out and for Nakamura to take charge. He ends the match with a Kinshasa and takes the WWE Championship as he taunts the fans and the Styles.