The feud between these men started recently on Smackdown Live. Nakamura, who had fallen from prominence in WWE programming after losing the United States Championship, defeated Bálor in a singles match on the blue brand last week. Their title match on the Extreme Rules pre-show featured a more ruthless Bálor beating up Nakamura outside of the ring like the King of Strong Style did to him on Tuesday, but the sometimes-Demon ultimately fell to the Kinshasa.
This is the first time Nakamura has won the WWE Intercontinental Championship, but he has been associated with an Intercontinental Championship before. During the last phase of his career in New Japan Pro Wrestling, he won the IWGP Intercontinental Championship five times and became the longest-reigning holder of that title. Nakamura is credited with elevating NJPW’s white belt and is still the wrestler most closely associated with the IWGP IC title to the extent that he was a major storyline motivation for Kota Ibushi‘s run with it earlier this year.
This championship win by Nakamura was described as, “a return to form,” the end of, ” a cold streak,” and possibly, “the next chapter in his storied career” by commentary, making it sound like he could be feature more by WWE in the near future.