Friday, February 6, 2015

Zayn vs Owens makes me happy

A couple years ago, one of the things I wrote about that made me happy was the WWE feud between Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. The two of them had grown up before our eyes in the smaller Ring of Honor wrestling promotion before defying the odds, it seems, and making it to WWE.

For years, there was a prototypical look for a wrestling superstar. Tall, jacked, tanned, etc. Hulk Hogan. The Rock. Triple H. Brock Lesnar. Randy Orton. Batista. Roman Reigns. Our friend CM Punk is maybe 6'1 and a little over 200 pounds. Daniel Bryan is listed by WWE as 5'10 and 189 pounds.

But the two of them defied all of the odds and turned that "prototypical" look into a "stereotypical" look. CM Punk held the WWE title for over a year - something that is rare in this day and age - and had two matches against Hollywood star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He only comes back to fight the best. Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista in the same night at the biggest WWE event in history - WrestleMania 30 - to win his championship.

When they left ROH for WWE, a new generation of stars needed to step up. Two of those stars were Kevin Steen and El Generico. Steen started out as a clean-cut good guy character who had entertaining matches. Then he became one of the nastiest "heel" wrestlers in the company's history, leading a faction called "S.C.U.M." and vowing to destroy ROH from the inside. He reigned as their Heavyweight champion for most of a year. Generico started as a parody of a masked Mexican wrestler. "The Generic One," he wore a plain mask and plain tights and was more of a comedy wrestler.

Steen and Generico started out as a team in the mid-2000s. People loved them. Then Steen turned on Generico to begin his heel run. They feuded on-and-off for the next several years. It all culminated in a "Ladder War" at the end of 2010.

Hype video above. Match highlights below.

Shortly after that, Generico signed with WWE and reported to their developmental promotion, NXT. It doesn't stand for anything. Well, it sort of means "Next," as in these are going to be the next WWE superstars.

They took the mask off and renamed him Sami Zayn. After seeing him for the first time, I remarked on twitter that he actually appeared to resemble "El Generico" more without the mask. He just didn't stand out to me at that time.

Over the last year or so, he has worked himself up into being the top good guy in the NXT promotion. People have wanted to watch his rise to the top for a long time. It finally looked like it was going to happen at the NXT live special on the WWE Network, titled "Takeover: R Evolution." Kind of a play on "Revolution" and "Our Evolution."

Last summer, word spread that Kevin Steen was going to be signing with WWE. That surprised a lot of people. Punk and Bryan and Zayn were all small, but they were muscular. Steen has a bit of a gut. And his promos were heavily peppered with F-bombs. He just didn't seem like he would fit in well into the PG-rated WWE world.

But he signed. Promos hyped him up for a month or two. His debut was going to be during the "R Evolution" event. Kevin Steen was renamed Kevin Owens. His son's name is Owen and he got that name from famed wrestler Owen Hart.

Kevin Owens opened up the show with an amazing display of agility for a man his size. He was heavily cheered by the NXT crowd. It's a much more "hardcore" audience. The casual WWE fan may not know who Owens and Zayn are, but the NXT audience certainly does. At the end of the night, Zayn's journey to the top was complete. He achieved his dream and won the NXT Championship.

The locker room came out to celebrate, most notably Kevin Owens. And then the turn happened. It has since come out that Owens was jealous of Zayn for getting to WWE before he did. He feels like that championship moment should have been his.

February 11, 2015 will see Kevin Owens versus Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship in the main event of a WWE-produced event. They have both finally arrived at the top.

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