One of the things that WWE announcers frequently say when they’re hyping up the ongoing Kevin Owens-Sami Zayn feud is that the pair are “destined to go on fighting forever.”
This past Tuesday on SmackDown Live, both were on the receiving end of a double chokeslam from Kane. As they lay in the middle of the ring, the Raw honchos announced that they were drafting Sami Zayn. It seemed glaringly obvious that the right thing would then be for the SmackDown overlords to quickly jump in and draft Owens.
But as we know, that didn’t happen.
Now that both men have been drafted to Raw, that proclamation that the two shall fight forever seems ever more apt, but not in a good way. TPB has previously argued and advocated for the duo to be separated in the brand split. This would have given both men the space from each other to indulge in some other feuds, the fans a break from their feud, and not injecting their animosity with a dose of overkill when it has the energy and longevity to be revisited over the course of several years.
The WWE is now in an impossible creative situation, and the stock in Owens and Zayn is teetering on the edge. One of the things that has kept the fire raging is interference in each other’s matches. Sami Zayn cost Kevin Owens his precious Intercontinental Championship on a number of occasions, and Owens would return the favor. The whole point of their feud is that neither man can keep their hands off the other. Now that they are going to remain in spitting distance of each other for the foreseeable future, how is it going to make sense for either man to get ahead in other feuds without being immediately bulldozed? If they do cool off the feud for a bit, are we supposed to believe that both men are exercising restraint and reining in their seething hatred?
What other options does creative have?
Well, they could have the match at Battleground, another at SummerSlam, and prematurely declare the feud over when it really ought to be stretching out to WrestleMania at a slow and steady pace, thereby costing themselves thousands of PPV buys and network subscriptions. Or, they can go the way they have been for the last few months: have the two of them cross paths in multi-man matches with Cesaro and Chris Jericho as bit players.
Oh, did we mention that they too have been drafted to Raw?
Jericho has nothing to lose and is doing the decent thing that any wrestler at his point in his career ought to: fattening up matches and making the younger stars look good. It is not, conversely, a good position for the “Swiss Superman” to be in. For what feels like a lifetime, Cesaro has been inserted into other peoples’ feuds to keep their matches strong, without being able to enjoy any significant spotlight of his own.
Nobody can complain that an athlete as talented as Cesaro is getting countless opportunities to strut his stuff in the ring, but there is only so long that he can continue to do that before his tires are spinning in the mud. By remaining surrounded by people who are already in well established feuds, Cesaro is likely to continue trying to grab morsels of exclusive time with the fans.
What the WWE should have done is obvious: By keeping Zayn and Owens as far away from each other as possible for a prolonged period of time, there is the opportunity for one man to spring up completely out of the blue on the other, a few months down the line, in one of the cross-promotional PPVs.
This has been performed to great effect in the past. The Undertaker and Kane’s 700th feud was kicked off by Kane interfering in SmackDown’s business, and Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels had a match at WrestleMania stemming from an altercation in the Royal Rumble. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar also happened, but we’ll try to forget that…
Furthermore, a cross-promotional match at one of the big four PPVs would mean big money, and be a special attraction. Instead, this feud is only going to have the life drained out of it prematurely. If nothing else, having one of the two warring Canadians on SmackDown, along with Cesaro, might have at least done wonders for the lame duck of a roster that the B-Show is currently lumbered with.