In a story old as time, nobody has told the pro wrestling friendship break-up story like Kevin Steen and El Generico. Last night at NXT Takeover: Rival working through their spiritual avatars Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, the blood brothers closed the show with a brutal display of drama. Owens played the lunatic challenger and Zayn played the fighting champion roles to perfection.
After about 20 minutes of ring work, most spent with Owens battering Zayn, multiple power bombs and pummeling strikes led to a rare pro wrestling doctor stoppage title change. Two matches into his NXT career and Kevin Owens is already the promotion’s kingpin. Wrestling worst nightmare runs NXT and is now one phone call from the WWE to making a main roster leap before the end of the year.
The WWE sees money and has put a lot of faith in Kevin Owens if they are letting him run heel roughshod over the NXT roster, just three months after appearing on television. For the loveable underdog, Zayn goes back into chase mode to regain the NXT championship he only held for a brief moment in time. It will be interesting to see how NXT books champion Owens, former champion Zayn and newly crowned number one contender Finn Balor over the coming months.
Even though NXT has been on the WWE Network for nearly a year, it’s still surreal to see two indie, mostly Ring of Honor, darlings sharing the main event spotlight. The Owens vs. Zayn feud is the big budget version of Kevin Steen vs. El Generico plotline told over the course of handful of years across multiple indie wrestling federations. Betrayal, a heel turn, attempted unmaskings, and flat out amazing in-ring chemistry is the foundation that the Steen vs. Generico rivalry was built on.
The sequels are never better than the original but so far WWE’s NXT version of Steen vs. Generico is going down the right path.
In El Generico’s final Ring of Honor match before signing with NXT, the two former friends put on a classic ladder match. The ring ends up covered with multiple ladders as both Steen and Generico nearly kill one another with some violent high spots. It’s always a good sign when the ROH crowd chants “please don’t die” in the general direction of Steen and Generico.