Leading up to the Royal Rumble, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were vying to become co-WWE Champions. Never once did the heels even hint at the slightest rift in their partnership.
Now two days later, they’re ready to blow off the Owens-Zayn partnership in one show on SmackDown Live.
Owens and Zayn lost to AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura in the main event of this week’s episode, and it was announced that they’ll face each other next week to determine AJ Styles No. 1 contender, getting a title shot before the belt is defended against Nakamura at WrestleMania.
Blowing up the Owens-Zayn partnership is fine, even though I’d like to see it play out more. My issue is that they’re doing it so quickly. Two days ago these guys were fine. Last week, these guys were totally on the same page. Now one little hiccup and that’s it? They’re done?
There’s an argument to be made that it’s just how heels act. Babyfaces might give a partner the benefit of the doubt, but heels are heels and they’ll be irrational in situations like this.
However, it still feels like they’re cramming one month’s worth of storylines into one week. Why? Lack of planning, that’s why. WWE has a history of this under Vince McMahon, and this development points to times not changing.
Rusev beat Kofi Kingston, Jinder Mahal and Zack Ryder to become No. 1 contender to the U.S. Title
This was a good match, which is saying something considering some of the guys involved can be slow and methodical. Besides, suggesting that Jinder Mahal was in something categorized as a “good match” is going to raise some eyebrows, I know.
Rusev getting the win got a nice reaction, and people love Rusev Day. I think the reaction was hurt slightly by the fact that this was the fourth show in four days for that building in Philadelphia. They already got to pop for Rusev Day at the Royal Rumble.
The issue they’re going to have with this U.S. Title match is that neither guy is a strong heel. The fans like to sing Bobby Roode’s theme and the people like to cheer for Rusev Day. That could be an issue for the match.
The Bludgeon Brothers beat two local wrestlers
See how I put “two local wrestlers” instead of “two job guys.” I’m being nice.
This is typical with WWE and tag teams, but there has been so little character development with the Bludgeon Brothers, that the fans aren’t going to care much about them once they get pushed up against New Day or the Usos. If they think they cam skimp on character development because these guys were in the Wyatt Family together … well that’s just lazy.
Baron Corbin beat Tye Dillinger
Of course he did!
Corbin doesn’t get anything from this win. It was a competitive match — almost 10 minutes — and Corbin won, but Dillinger has been positioned as borderline enhancement talent. What does Corbin get over a competitive win over a guy positioned like that? I think this actually hurts Corbin more than it helps him.
Chad Gable & Shelton Benjamin beat Breezango
This was a good match, but the crowd was absolutely shot at this point. This is 100 percent the downfall in WWE’s strategy of just occupying a building for almost an entire week. The crowd was dead for this match, and they shouldn’t have been, because it was good overall.
AJ Styles & Shinsuke Nakamura beat Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Styles and Nakamura are put on the back burner for now, as WWE tells the Zayn-Owens storyline. That’s fine, but as we stated above, there are issues with jamming this Owens-Zayn feud in so quickly.