Samoa Joe earned his first WWE pay-per-view victory since his Raw call-up after beating Sami Zayn Sunday night at Fastlane.
Zayn went for a Helluva Kick in the corner, but Joe countered and then slammed Zayn to the mat. That led to the Coquina Clutch, and the referee called for the bell after failing to get a timely reaction from Zayn.
WWE shared a photo of a victorious Joe kneeling over his conquered opponent:
Bleacher Report's Mike Chiari would've enjoyed a longer match:
Uproxx's Brandon Stroud didn't think Zayn stood much of a chance:
Black Sports Online envisions a bright future ahead for Zayn despite the defeat:
The match saw Joe and Zayn renew their rivalry from NXT. The two feuded in early 2016 to determine who would challenge Finn Balor for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. They went over 40 minutes on the March 9 edition of NXT in a 2-out-of-3 Falls match.
Considering his past experience with Joe, Zayn should've known better than to poke the bear on the Feb. 13 episode of Raw. After beating Rusev, Zayn called out Joe, which resulted in a beatdown on the Raw entrance ramp:
The next week, Joe attacked Zayn before his match with Kevin Owens:
Zayn returned the favor Monday when he went after Joe following his victory over Cesaro:
The rivalry has been a great diversion for both competitors on the proverbial road to WrestleMania.
Zayn has further cemented his underdog status, and he's one of the few wrestlers in WWE who came out looking strong in a losing effort. Joe, meanwhile, continues to look like a remorseless monster—a trait he perfected in NXT.
The question now becomes in which direction the two wrestlers go for WrestleMania 33 on April 2 in Orlando, Florida, since their bad blood almost certainly ended Sunday night.
Zayn may tread water for the most part. His long-term storyline with Braun Strowman ended last month, thus limiting his options for WrestleMania.
At the last two editions, the Intercontinental Championship was up for grabs in a ladder match. Should WWE go down the same route with the United States Championship, Zayn would be among the top contenders to take the belt.
Joe, on the other hand, will be moving on to bigger and brighter things. On Raw, Seth Rollins said he will be at WrestleMania despite the fact he's still out of action with a knee injury. While Rollins wants to wrestle Triple H, he may have to settle for Joe as a proxy for the King of Kings.
Should Rollins not be cleared for WrestleMania 33—or if he gets his wish and takes on Triple H—Joe will still be a lock to play a huge role at the biggest PPV of the year.