It’s starting to sound a bit cliché at this point, but it still rings true that Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens have been destined to fight forever since they broke into the business together.
The two have engaged in some extraordinary battles against one another since their respective professional debuts, the best of which having arguably taken place within the ranks of WWE.
Their bitter rivalry in NXT still stands as one of the most emotionally driven feuds in the brand’s history, and it’s proven by the notion that their animosity followed them to the main roster. Every step of the way, from WrestleMania to Money in the Bank, Zayn has been there to halt Owens’ attempts at success, culminating for the time being in a Match of the Year candidate at Battleground.
The match was exactly what it needed to be, with Zayn finally exacting revenge on his former best friend for stabbing him in the back. The prospects for either man going forward were monumental, as it provided the opportunity for both to go down separate roads and establish themselves before inevitably crossing paths again — this time for the WWE’s grandest prize.
Instead, while Owens went on to become the WWE Universal Champion, Sami Zayn showed zero direction before being utilized as little more than enhancement talent for those atop the card on Monday nights. But it seems that the WWE has a habit of fixing problems with solutions that, in turn, just cause more problems. This rang true on the latest instalment of Monday Night Raw when Sami Zayn became involved in a feud with the legendary Chris Jericho.
You’d never turn your nose up at a heated rivalry with a bona fide future Hall of Famer, but the means of which this story came about are where things continue to sour. Instead of basing this rivalry on Sami Zayn trying to get back on a winning streak as he continues to scratch and claw his way back to relevancy on the WWE roster, the entire Highlight Reel segment on the flagship show that kick-started this feud was based around Sami’s former friendship with, you guessed it, Kevin Owens.
“The Prizefighter” is already sitting pretty on top of the WWE mountain, he doesn’t need to have his name featured prominently in two separate matches on the line-up heading into Clash of Champions, because as long as he’s got that title in hand, he is the man.
Who needs that even less, however, is Sami Zayn. As mentioned, the WWE’s resident ultimate underdog has already defeated Kevin Owens. He should be moving onto bigger and better opportunities, and if it didn’t come with the added condition of being forced to ride Kevin Owens’ coattails to victory, the Jericho feud wouldn’t be so bittersweet.
Plus, as a sidenote: Why on earth does Chris Jericho need to spend his time hyping up somebody else on the roster? They may be “best friends,” but Chris Jericho is one of the single greatest wrestlers in WWE history, who continues to adapt as each waking generation passes, debuting new catchphrases and finding a way to innovate with each return to action.
Thinking in terms of the story, Chris Jericho could be in the WWE Universal Championship picture if he wanted to. Seeing him act as Kevin Owens’ cheerleader is a bit odd, but I digress.
It goes without saying that a win over Chris Jericho is an absolute necessity for Sami Zayn at Clash of Champions. What Zayn needs right now is exactly what Dean Ambrose needed from Jericho following WrestleMania; somebody to put him over that won’t suffer too badly from the loss, and has enough star power to make him look like a real threat to the championship picture going forward.
Theoretically, the WWE shouldn’t go forward with the Owens-Zayn WWE Universal Championship match before 2016 is out, because fans would know wholeheartedly that Zayn would have no chance of walking out of that encounter with the championship, but it might be the only way for Zayn to save face and stop living in the shadow of his arch nemesis for the rest of the year.
Maybe the key to life after Owens for Sami Zayn is a loss, because so far he’s not earned much of anything since beating him. Plus, it would be Sami’s first main roster PPV main event, and since Raw’s next event after Clash of Champions is going to be Hell in a Cell, it might be the best platform for them to finally put this rivalry to bed for a lot longer than three months.
After all, the Hell in a Cell gimmick is a match type best used when it’s to settle the WWE’s most blood-boiling rivalries, and that ideology perfectly embodies that of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Either way, the first step for Zayn is to beat Chris Jericho next Sunday night, and try to step out of Kevin Owens’ shadow a little bit, because so far, it’s making both men look kind of pathetic. You can’t rely on one feud to carry you through your entire career forever, and the sooner both of these guys can become their own men and create a legacy for themselves, by themselves, the better.