WWE fans may finally get the chance to see how great Sami Zayn is in a wrestling ring. After living in the shadow of other WWE superstars, most notably his best friend Kevin Owens, it is Zayn who looks to throw a wrench in the “Six-Pack” challenge main event at Fastlane for the WWE World Title.
Zayn and Owens have been arm-in-arm in this most recent storyline of two friends reunited with Zayn’s over-the-top hero worship of the former Universal Heavyweight Champion. The two members of SmackDown Live has worked a program that has feuded with commissioner Shane McMahon and drawn support from former fellow indy star Daniel Bryan.
That should all come to an end on Sunday evening. It would appear Zayn will turn on Owens, allowing the former NXT champion to test out a run as a top babyface. If anything, the current story has held back both stars and their work in singles competition. It also sets up nicely for the two to meet at WrestleMania 34 where another chapter of their novel will write itself.
The Owens-Zayn drama is much like feud of the past: Edge and John Cena, Cena and CM Punk and Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. The build to those matches were solid, but were equally impressive in the matches they fought.
“On Tuesday, in a five-man maelstrom involving all the competitors in the upcoming Fastlane match (sans John Cena) duking it out to close the show, Sami Zayn revealed his true motivation,” writes Matt Wilansky of ESPN.com. “Amid the punches, superkicks, sidekicks and other pugilistic poundings, Zayn — who had promised Kevin Owens he’d lie down in the middle of the ring Sunday, essentially handing KO the title — Helluva kicked his “best friend” then pinned Owens for the win.”
Who saw that coming? Was Zayn’s sidekick shtick a ruse all along? Wilansky thinks so and so do I. Zayn could be one of the best performers on the WWE roster, but has been portrayed as a do-gooder and too much of a pleaser. Even as a heel, he is likeable to a fault. Maybe the “real” Zayn will come from out of the pack. No one is winning the match other than AJ Styles, but the seeds could be planted for other WrestleMania matches. This is one that doesn’t need a hard sell.
WWE took a common storyline – one friend turning on another – and heightened it with a continuation from NXT to the main roster. It then brought the two back together, only to force a split from their “marriage” all in the name of giving the fans another chance to witness greatness. And from what you can tell, it’s something I like seeing as an old-school wrestling angle.
Owens is the type of performer who gets over with the fans no matter what situation he is booked. That theory may have been tested with the recent events on the blue brand. WWE is working to correct that. Owens could have a nice run as a babyface, possibly pitting him against Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler and Jinder Mahal. In the end, however, the company could always revisit a program with Zayn.
Zayn is a solid in-ring performer who needs more of an edge to his character to cement himself as a true challenger in title competition. The move expected on Sunday night should catapult him toward the main event roster. It’s not unfathomable to see him compete for the WWE Title against Styles or Shinsuke Nakamura.
No matter what happens on Sunday night, the end of this “friendship” should end. While the move will help both Owens and Zayn moving forward, it is Zayn who could take the breakup and run with it as one of the better heals the blue brand has on its roster.