The Road to Battleground
These guys don't like each other.
Once upon a time, they did. And that's true no matter what some kayfabe truthers who believe the man who know portrays Sami Zayn in WWE never wore a mask and spoke bad Spanish in Ring of Honor (ROH) and other independent promotions tell you. Then, the man who would become Kevin Owens was influenced by a guy who also convinced him to get a tattoo which can be read as "LIVE" or "EVIL", the partnership he had with the man who we now call Zayn ended and a feud for the ages was born.
You can read more about that here.
In NXT, Owens debut made us think the friendship was again the most important thing. But that was fleeting, and lead to one of that shows best "mark out moments" ever, kicking off a battle for the NXT Championship which would propel Owens to main roster stardom and send Sami to the disabled list.
Get a little of that flavor here.
The Likeable One rehabbed his shoulder while KO converted a whole new Universe of fans. Then, at the Royal Rumble, Zayn reappeared and we got the now familiar scene of the two old friends pummeling each other with abandon...
That moment set off a months long stretch where their hatred of one another would cost them championships and title opportunities. WWE's been booking them into multi-man matches, like the WrestleMania's Intercontinenal title bout, or the Money in the Bank ladder match, and these two pick destroying one another over glory and gold every time.
After the last pay-per-view (PPV), where they kept each other from winning the briefcase which Dean Ambrose would turn into a WWE title, Zayn & Owens finally admitted to each other and the world that they were obsessed with ending their friend-turned-rival.
So at Battleground, that's what they'll try to do.
What's at stake?
Many, including yours truly, figured WWE would use the brand split draft as a way to book themselves out of the "Fight Forever" corner. But they didn't... and the stakes got a lot more interesting. Sami and KO will have to co-exist on Raw after this.
Or will they?
The winner could conceivably move up a rung on the card. He probably won't enter the Seth Rollins/Roman Reigns feud immediately or anything, but he's closer to that than Monday night's expansive mid-card in which the loser will find himself toiling - at least coming out of this feud.
Another option would be to make this the primary match-up of their careers.
It's worked okay so far.