A rivalry with roots in NXT has taken a more personal turn as it heads to SmackDown’s next pay-per-view (PPV).
The Road to Backlash
Before either man made the trip to the main roster, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin were on opposite sides. On WWE’s developmental third brand, they fought (along with current Raw Superstar Samoa Joe) for the right to challenge for Finn Bálor‘s NXT title in early 2016. Zayn was on his way back from injury, and Corbin was looking to break out despite not having the independent wrestling experience of others on the roster at the time.
When the brand split draft came about later that year, Zayn & Corbin found themselves on different shows. But when Sami moved to SmackDown in this year’s Superstar Shake-Up, it didn’t take them any time to rediscover their animosity.
Both men came up short in another Triple Threat, this one won by AJ Styles, making him the #1 contender for Kevin Owens’ United States championship:
Tension would continue to run high from that encounter, and when Corbin and Owens attacked the Phenomenal One after he defeated The Lone Wolf in one-on-one action, Zayn ran in to make the save. He’d pay for the decision on Talking Smack later, however, when Baron viciously attacked him during his interview:
Corbin was suspended for his actions, but hostilities resumed as soon as he returned to Tuesday nights. In London, the Likeable One ran in during an opening promo to deliver his own blindside to the Andre the Giant Memorial winner. Sami and his team would come up short in the six-man tag encounter that followed.
It was enough build for Zayn to get commissioner Shane McMahon to book a match between the two for Backlash. And as is fitting for this feud, before Sami could even finish breaking that news, he was jumped by The Lone Wolf.
What's at stake?
In a program that’s featured so many multi-man matches and outside-the-ring violence, bragging rights in a straight-up, one-on-one encounter will mean a lot. Leaving Chicago with a win will undoubtedly be a point of pride for whichever man claims victory.
Longer-term, rumors have claimed for a while now that WWE has big plans for Corbin. And while they don’t not have plans for the Underdog from the Underground, Sami’s story has long been about preserving despite losses and other setbacks.
But that hasn’t stopped Zayn from picking up some surprising wins, and the former NFL lineman some surprising loses, at past events.
Safe bet is for a good, hard-hitting match between two rising stars.
Other than that... tune in to Backlash and keep it at cSs to find out!
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