I hope I am not the only one who sees the Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn angle on SmackDown Live leading to a swerve that leads to an Owens turn as Zany backstabs his best friend.
I said some time ago that Owens could be a solid performer as a babyface. It looks like WWE is now willing to explore that opportunity with a storyline that won’t go away.
The blue brand has been at a disadvantage for months, with less talent and fewer big-name feuds. While AJ Styles continues to be the gold standard of programming, with complementary parts in Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Randy Orton and the Kevin and Sami Show. The addition of John Cena this week and the elevation of both Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler to the fringe of the main event picture has helped to ease some of the brand’s burden, but it has not solved all of its ills.
Owens and Zayn on their own can be phenomenal performers. As a duo, they have been both hot and cold with this recent heel union. Even in matches against each other, there is something missing. It’s not chemistry, it’s how this story has been told.
WWE had magic when Owens and Zayn brought their rivalry to the main roster after tearing down arenas in NXT. Friends turned foes. The backstory of family and growing up together in the business. It was as close to an NWA story from the 1980s as you could get. Something happened along the way. Watching the two in the ring week after week grew stale. Owens was fast-tracked to stardom. Zayn was left in the middle of WWE’s wading pool.
Now, the two are back on the same team, trying to recreate fire that is only producing weak smoke signals. In the end, Zayn will be the one to stab Owens in the back – more than likely at Fastlane – and cost him a shot at Styles’ WWE World Title. Once again, the two are destined for a confrontation at WrestleMania 34 where fans will throw their support behind Owens as the “injured soul” who they have wanted to cheer since he arrived on the scene in WWE.
Rough Start for Rousey
This situation with Ronda Rousey and the McMahon’s is as fractured as it could be right now. Much has to do with the green Rousey, who looks a bit lost in having to play up the WWE fans on television instead of climbing into an octagon and beating the hell out of her opponent.
There is no doubt the former UFC fighter’s arrival has been a boon for the company, but the story that includes Kurt Angle is awful. Had WWE booked her the same way it had when she closed out the Royal Rumble, pointing at the WrestleMania 34 sign, it may have worked.
When did Angle become the McMahon whipping boy once again? It was never part of a storyline. It would work if there was more backstory, if the company had built a story behind conversations involving Stephanie McMahon and Triple H with Angle about Rousey’s arrival.
Instead, the middle of the story is missing a rising action. Beating the hell out of Stephanie McMahon in New Orleans will grab some cable buys, but Angle in the ring with Triple H must be built a b it better. For now, this is a lukewarm situation that could snowball against Rousey, arguably the biggest addition to the company roster since Styles made his Royal Rumble debut two years ago.
Angle would appear to be the choice to compete in a mixed-tag match, but it won’t have the same kind of draw if the company can lure The Rock back to New Orleans.
I know I partially discussed this in my last post, but WWE did a great job of booking Nia Jax at Elimination Chamber. The aftermath of the loss to Asuka made the company’s most dominant female wrestler look strong. Hopefully this is the time she is booked to run through the women’s division on Monday nights with Asuka moving over to SmackDown Live.
Nia has been more of curiosity than anything else – teasing her dominance in the ring, but falling to Sasha Banks and other more established performers. Will 2018 lead to a run with the Raw Women’s Title? I for one hope so.
WWE would do right to book Asuka and Charlotte for the SmackDown Women’s Title. Bayley and Sasha should renew their rivalry and Nia should turn on Alexa Bliss. A babyface run, like Braun Strowman, would do wonders for her in the company.