A lot of us are looking forward to tonight's SmackDown (Mar. 10), and not because of a match.
As guests on Miz TV, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens will speak on WWE main roster television for the first time about their relationship and rivalry. As we saw on Monday night (and at Royal Rumble earlier this year), Zayn's introduction to the greater WWE Universe will center on his story with the current Intercontinental champ - a program that spans year, characters (sorry, Generico-truthers) and companies.
Getting a headstart, and certainly going more in-depth than whatever time they'll get on USA Network tonight, WWE.com has a great piece up talking to both men, with the conceit being they were asked the same questions in separate interviews.
It's a phenomenal piece of business, highlighting why Owens vs. Zayn is the greatest 'Reality' Era tale... but unfortunately, hard to replicate seeing as how you'd need to find two teenagers growing up now in the same area who happen to be supremely gifted performers and start booking the next fifteen years of their life.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is how well Sami's injury from last year slots right into the story. No one wishes for shoulder surgery, but being able to tie his absence in kayfabe to KO's betrayal of him in NXT while also having it result in Owens' establishing himself on the main roster and leveling the field after WWE signed (or, as Kevin famously growled in his NXT debut teaser video, "called") Zayn first, is practically magical.
KO sums up their relationship through the years, which both men admit has persisted despite their being very different people, as familial rather than friendship:
I've often said that we were more brothers than friends. I still feel this way, regardless of what's going on. You can't choose who your brother is. You're born and whoever is in your family is your family. That's your blood. That's the way it is.
Me and Sami have a very similar relationship in that we didn't really choose to be friends. We had to be friends, because when we started making a name for ourselves in this industry, we were getting booked on a lot of the same shows. Some of those would be eight or 10 hours away, and Sami didn't have a car, so we'd take my car. We spent a lot of time together because we had to. Spending that much time together, you can't help but get to know them and get close with them. Personality-wise, though, we're probably complete opposites. But, you don't choose who your brothers are. We didn't choose to be friends, we had to be friends and we became friends through necessity.
That the one thing they had in common - wrestling, and the goal of doing it for WWE - didn't work out as planned still drives Owens, despite his downplaying, and Zayn saying he was in Triple H's ear to sign his former tag partner from almost the moment he walked in the door:
When [Sami] said that everything we've done before in the past was all to end up here, that's true. Everything we did in the past was with one goal: To come here together. That didn't work out, because he got here almost two years before I did. But, that's life, really.
I felt really frustrated with that situation because WWE was always where I wanted to be. As good as I had it at that time, as happy as I was doing what I was doing, when I saw Sami come here, it definitely stung a little, because I wished I could have come, too.
Interestingly, it's now KO who thinks he and Sami will eventually move past the tension caused by the way they both entered WWE. Zayn doesn't close the door on it, but he ends the interview with a line that's become synonymous with the two wrestlers since their Ring of Honor (ROH) battles:
It's very hard to see how that would even be possible now, while we're in the thick of this. But, stranger things have happened between Kevin and I. We've been friends many times and enemies more times than I can count. It's always one or the other. I don't see how it could be possible right now, but it wouldn't be the first time or the last time. I think at the end of the day, when you look at the history between us, I think we're destined to fight forever.
Definitely head over to WWE.com for the whole article. It'll help tide you over until tonight, when one of wrestling's greatest feuds further establishes itself on the biggest stage in the game.