Following the Hell in a Cell network special, few superstars on the WWE roster had more momentum than Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The outcome of the Owens/Shane McMahon Hell in a Cell match was the talk of the wrestling world when it went down.
It was fresh, unforeseen and interesting. No one saw Zayn emerging from out of nowhere to save his former best friend from a McMahon elbow drop off the top of the cage. And no one really saw Zayn’s heel turn coming either. We believed in his ability to be a good heel and were glued to the screen the following Monday night to get some answers.
The first few weeks of the Owens/Zayn partnership went well enough. Kevin was up to his usual antics while Sami was trying to learn the ropes when it came to cutting corners and winning matches.
Then the bottom seemed to drop out of the thing in early November. They were sent home from the WWE’s European Tour for disciplinary reasons, and both were left off of SmackDown Live’s Survivor Series team. When the time came for that network special to air, they were relegated to a pre-show match Breezango, and they didn’t have anything to do on the main card until the main event of the evening.
At that juncture, they attempted to interfere by attacking McMahon while he was on the outside of the ring. The 47-year-old managed to get his hands on a chair, and he used it to repel the attacking Owens and Zayn. Owens ate an RKO as he attempted to run through the ring, and the two were last seen running from McMahon as if he was the no-sell version of Brock Lesnar.
Their interference impacted the match, of course, and we got one of the strangest (read: worst) finishes of a Survivor Series event in recent memory.
As if this clear fall from grace wasn’t enough, things got even worse for the best friends this past Tuesday. At the start of the show, they were informed that they’d be involved in a match against the New Day and that the entire roster would surround the ring as lumberjacks.
So they could all get their hands on Sami and Kevin after they betrayed the blue brand during Survivor Series.
Over the two-hour program, the pair attempted to find someone — anyone — who would have their backs during the match. Only to be told repeatedly that no one likes them backstage and that they were on their own. This, of course, echoing the brutal character-shredding comments made by McMahon during the show’s open.
It turns out that Zayn and Owens did manage to find two enemy-of-my-enemy friends in Rusev and Aiden English, and the pair took it upon themselves to take out Big E during the hectic final moments of SmackDown. Zayn managed to steal the win as chaos erupted among the lumberjacks and Rusev’s attack on Big E gave Owens enough time to escape.
Sami wasn’t so lucky. He was jumped by the New Day following the match while Owens was seen backstage begging Daniel Bryan — on his knees, no less — to not fire him. Bryan asked Owens if he was even worried about Zayn, which K.O. quickly brushed off while looking for reassurances about his job.
Not exactly a shining example of friendship from Owens, who has already turned on Chris Jericho on the main roster and Zayn on several occasions.
So now we have to wonder: is the WWE already putting the breaks on the tandem of Owens and Zayn? Two performers, who have proven capable of working in a year-long program, are we seeing them broken up after a month? Even though it might have actually made sense to give them a decent tag team run?
We’ll get some answers next Tuesday night, but creative’s handling of Owens and Zayn smacks more of Vince McMahon’s brand of behind-the-scenes justice more than effective storytelling.