Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho: Best Ways to Wrap Up Feud at WWE Payback
The former best friends will meet once more at the April 30 pay-per-view. Jericho will soon head out to tour with his band Fozzy. And now that both men are on different brands following the Superstar Shake-up, it's even more clear that this story is coming to a close.
Owens vs. Jericho can be a powerful farewell, a display of a friendship burned to ashes and the opus for a triumphant braggart titleholder. The following is a look at how to achieve that, how to get the most out of the closing moments of this saga.
A Lengthy, Brutal Battle
Jericho and Owens' clash at WrestleMania 33 brought us some strong action and a solid story. Plus, KO escaping a three-count by touching a single finger on the bottom rope was a great moment.
Still, Owens vs. Jericho didn't feel complete.
The intensity of the battle didn't match how personal the rivals' issues were. As Garrett Kidney of Voices of Wrestling wrote: "It lacked some raw passion to sell the grudge and push it to the next level."
Payback can offset that.
The Prizefighter broke his friend's heart, smashed his face through glass and left him without the U.S. title. The level of violence has to reflect how emotional this story has become. This match has to be fiery from the opening bell. The rivals have to brawl outside the ring and club each other.
And there is a chance here to create a magical work of theater. WWE would be smart to allow Jericho and Owens ample time to produce that.
A Lurking AJ Styles
AJ Styles has a vested interest in Jericho vs. Owens.
He won the right to challenge whoever wins by beating Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat match on April 11. The U.S. title's No. 1 contender now waits to see who he will take on for the gold.
Although Payback is technically a Raw PPV, SmackDown's Styles should show up.
He can appear in street clothes in the audience or hang around backstage. His presence would add tension and play up how important the U.S. title is to him.
Should Owens beat Jericho to a pulp, Styles can cement his ongoing babyface transition by saving Y2J.
KO Remains the Champ
WWE has to tease a Jericho victory several times through the match to keep things interesting, but it's obvious Owens must win.
It makes zero sense for KO to drop the belt now and for Jericho to move to SmackDown. Y2J can't be champ; he has some frontman duties to take of.
The folks at the Tights and Fights podcast put it simply when they tweeted: "Jericho's leaving soon, so Owens has to retain."
In addition, an Owens wins means The Face of America Open Challenge will continue. The Prizefighter will continue to have a reason to mock the United States. And he can keep trying to invigorate the U.S. title the way The Miz did with the Intercontinental Championship.
That means an Owens win is a win for SmackDown—for all of us really.
A Violent Send-off
Jericho's hiatus should be a means to showcase how dangerous Owens is. Y2J can't simply walk away for a few weeks. Owens has to snap him in half.
After a hard-hitting match that leaves Jericho struggling to stand, KO needs to assault his former friend after the bell. A powerbomb on the apron, a series of chair shots and a barrage of right hands while Jericho is strapped is a stretcher would all add up to an exhibition of Owens' destructive power.
The champ would benefit from devouring his foe in such dramatic fashion. It would further paint him as a heartless villain.
And Payback would be improved by such a lasting image.