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Should Sami Zayn have won the Royal Rumble?
Sami Zayn is no longer part of The Bloodline.
After Roman Reigns defeated Kevin Owens in the main event of the Royal Rumble, he relished in bludgeoning him after the match. Owens has been a perpetual thorn in his side, so this was an opportunity in the story for Reigns to stand tall.
After years of failing to connect with the audience at large in the desired manner, Reigns’s work has never resonated more than it has right now. On Saturday at the Rumble, he reminded everyone of his ruthlessness, which was on full display during the brutal beatdown of a handcuffed Owens.
The celebration stopped when Zayn stood up to Reigns, telling him that no more violence toward Owens was necessary. Reigns then started to bully Zayn, to the point where the crowd demanded that Zayn strike first—and he did, drilling Reigns with a steel chair.
Yet what goes up must come down. Zayn did not celebrate hitting Reigns, instead voicing his inner turmoil to Jey Uso. This was particularly compelling, as Jey was the one Bloodline member who most distrusted Zayn—until he finally became a believer during the WarGames match in November at Survivor Series. Jey’s defense of Zayn during last week’s “Trial of Sami Zayn” was phenomenal, and their bond has added another endearing element to the story.
With a conflicted Zayn contemplating his actions, Jimmy Uso delivered a picturesque superkick right in his face. That jump-started The Bloodline’s vicious attack on Zayn, minus Jey Uso, who walked away.
This story is unfolding spectacularly. It is building to Elimination Chamber in two weeks, when Zayn is likely to challenge Reigns for the undisputed WWE universal championship in front of his hometown fans in Montreal. But an epic of this magnitude feels out of place at any event but WrestleMania.
Except there is no way to get there. Zayn cannot prolong this story into the main event of WrestleMania.
Zayn should have won the Rumble. That isn’t to knock Cody Rhodes. It’s just that this is too hot of an angle.
If Zayn was in the Rumble, the crowd would have erupted had he won. That would have also flipped the card, necessitating Reigns-Owens to open the show. Zayn could have turned on Reigns before entering the Rumble at No. 30 to close out the show. That would have built to Elimination Chamber, where the crowd is going to be electric. Ultimately, would Zayn have lost to Reigns at WrestleMania? Up until the referee counted to three, that ride would have been legendary.
Rhodes won a very entertaining Rumble, capped off by an outstanding sequence with Gunther. But despite the current excitement of The Bloodline’s story with Zayn, it is best to keep Rhodes in the main event of WrestleMania. He needs to hold on to that spot; if he somehow lost it, that would hurt the credibility of the Royal Rumble match. There are very few stipulations in WWE that are honored or adhered to, but this is one that cannot be violated. It would be a terrible disservice to the Rumble if a change were to be made.
Rhodes now shoulders a laborious task of following this epic story. That is, no doubt, a challenge he relishes. But there are questions worth asking. Is it a year too early for him to win the belt? Would it have been better had Rhodes overcome a force like Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania? Or is this the time to crown Rhodes?
The finish of WrestleMania is going to be a must-see. Will WWE build Rhodes up all this way only to fail? Reigns is a juggernaut. Will Rhodes be the one to end his historic run?
Reigns’s run is the hottest in WWE since The Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak. The honor of snapping the streak had to go to the right person, and Lesnar’s victory against The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 in 2014 further solidified his place in WWE history. The same should be said for the man who defeats Reigns. That person should be able to carry the company for a long time based on the weight of the victory.
In 60 days, we will see whether Rhodes is the one to do it.
The (online) week in wrestling
- Last week’s match pitting Mark Briscoe against Jay Lethal was a heartbreaking tribute to Jay Briscoe.
- Cody Rhodes’s promo on Raw was, once again, spectacular. He followed that up with a solid win against Finn Bálor, who continues to show he is a team player for WWE. The match highlighted WWE’s depth—Rhodes vs. Bálor could be a pay-per-view main event—but the part that stuck with me was Rhodes stating he was only 62 days from WrestleMania. That means he was referring to the second night of WrestleMania 39.
- Much to my surprise, Rhea Ripley challenged Charlotte Flair for a title match at WrestleMania 39—and not Bianca Belair. In a reminder that I’m not booking this, I thought a Flair-Asuka rematch—along with Belair-Ripley—was the way to go.
- Samoa Joe and Darby Allin will headline what looks to be a very compelling edition of Dynamite on Wednesday, and we will also see one of my personal favorites—Timothy Thatcher—wrestle Bryan Danielson.
- If you’re looking to follow the business of pro wrestling, the coverage from Brandon Thurston is superb.
Anthony Bowens: “I’ve heard ‘Scissor me, Daddy!’ in some very unlikely places”
The Acclaimed will be in action Wednesday night on Dynamite, defending the AEW tag team titles.
Anthony Bowens and Max Caster have flourished in their time together, and they have added a jolt of electricity to the tag titles—an excitement foreshadowed in previous matches/story lines against FTR and the team of Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal. The addition of Billy Gunn in their corner has completed the group, and it has been a joy to watch their work in AEW.
“We’ve always been confident since the beginning that whenever we found our footing, we’d be able to do some damage,” says Bowens. “We didn’t expect it to happen this quickly. We started to recognize a change when we partnered up with The Gunn Club. Then they turned on us, Billy hopped on board, and we knew the crowd was going to be into us—but we didn’t know to this extent. Working with a legend like Billy, the crowd’s reaction, it’s been so gratifying.”
The rapid rise of The Acclaimed was buoyed by their catchphrase. “Scissor me, Daddy” has not quite reached the ranks of “Suck It,” but it has been extremely popular—and, to the untrained ear, likely equally as offensive.
“I scissor people everywhere,” says Bowens. “I’ve scissored on airplanes, I’ve scissored in libraries. I’ve heard ‘Scissor me, Daddy!’ in some very unlikely places. The strangest place I’ve ever heard ‘Scissor me, Daddy’ is the men’s bathroom.”
Bowens is one of the most exciting younger wrestlers in the industry, but his work ethic and determination is as old school as it comes in wrestling. He now has a decade’s worth of experience, and after grinding and pushing for eight years on the indies, he finally received an opportunity in AEW.
Tonight’s opponents for The Acclaimed have not yet been announced, but the safe bet is that whatever occurs will further advance their story line with The Gunn Club, who are vying for the titles. Considering those are Billy Gunn’s sons, it could also lead to a situation where Gunn’s loyalties are torn.
“We are the most unpredictable team in pro wrestling,” says Bowens. “You have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next, and we’re going to continue entertaining people every week. Not too long ago, Max and I promised each other we’ll keep working hard. We’re both superstars, and it’s about time the world recognized that.”
Tweet of the Week
Chelsea Green is extraordinarily talented. Looking forward to seeing what she does in her new role.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.