Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been steadily receiving more and more heat since the weeks leading up to the Survivor Series main event on Nov. 19. Over the last several episodes of SmackDown Live, they have been placed in numerous predicaments by Shane McMahon, and all the while, Owens and Zayn have been complaining about how power-hungry the commissioner is.
It has generally come off as whiny, sniveling banter from two performers looking to irritate the crowd and make it fun to watch them get beat in the middle of the ring. Yet as the story as continued to evolve, it’s started to look more like Owens and Zayn were right, and that McMahon was indeed flexing whenever the opportunity presented itself.
From forcing the two competitors to fight for their chance to be on Team Blue at Survivor Series — while John Cena was simply invited to compete and McMahon was allowed to appoint himself — to their lumberjack match against the New Day, the evidence is quickly stockpiling in favor of what Owens and Zayn have been saying on repeat for the last month-plus.
Which makes us, as viewers wonder: what if they’ve been right all along? What if he really has gone mad with power? After all, he’s been at the center of every major storyline on the “land of opportunity” brand over the last two months or so.
We aren’t the first to point out how odd it was to see Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura pinned so early during the Survivor Series main event. Why was McMahon the one left standing and fighting? Like he needs to be built up anymore at this point in his career.
Happy to see WWE use this main event as a showcase for Shane McMahon.
The future of the business. A rising star with years of in-ring prominence ahead of him.#SuriviorSeries
— Chris Walder (@WalderSports) November 20, 2017
McMahon has gone on to berate the duo of Zayn and Owens in recent weeks, condemning them and making sure we all knew that no one in the locker room liked them. He’s poked them in the chest, routinely reminding them of how unpopular they are. He’s continuously stacked the deck against Owens and Zayn during their matches, but they’ve repeatedly come out on top regardless of the circumstances.
That changed this past Tuesday night when Owens was handcuffed to the outside of the ring while Zayn and Randy Orton did battle in the main event. Even though it was gimmicky, it felt like Shane had finally pushed his plans for revenge just a bit too far. And, once again, he was the driving force behind the entire show.
It ended in a pinfall victory for the Viper, but Owens and Zayn jumped him after the match. At which point Shinsuke Nakamura came to Orton’s resecure, essentially revealing himself to be Randy’s tag-team partner during his match against Owens and Zayn during Clash of Champions — a bout that McMahon had announced during the opening of SmackDown Live.
What came next was an unforeseen and shocking bit of news just as the show was going off the air. What McMahon hadn’t initially said when he made that tag-team contest was that he’d be the guest referee and that if Zayn and Owens lost, they’d be fired from all of WWE — not just the blue brand.
Wait, say what now?
Not only will #SDLive Commissioner @shanemcmahon be special guest referee for @FightOwensFight & @SamiZayn's #WWEClash match… if they lose, they'll be fired from ALL of @WWE! pic.twitter.com/H3e9XWIiaj
— WWE (@WWE) December 6, 2017
Since the buildup to Survivor Series began, SmackDown has become increasingly reliant on its “authority figures” to move the storylines forward. That hasn’t always been the case on Tuesday nights — we used to go weeks at a time without seeing Daniel Bryan — but right now numerous superstars are stuck in neutral while McMahon takes center stage yet again.
It’s been more than two months since we saw Tye Dillinger wrestle. We’re expected to accept Dolph Ziggler’s role in the United States championship match between Roode and Baron Corbin even though he’s been off TV for a while. Carmella has languished as the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase and hasn’t had the opportunity to build herself up as a credible threat at all.
Roode hasn’t had anything important to do until last week when he entered a program with Corbin for the US Title, while Nakamura has had virtually no chance to show WWE fans why he was, at one juncture, considered one of the best in-ring performers in the World.
Yet we have Shane McMahon driving the bus each and every Tuesday, with Bryan looking more and more dejected as things progress.
There are numerous possible explanations for this. Some of them could even be fun. Here’s hoping that creative isn’t going back to one of the most tired wells of them all: authority vs everyone.