Sami Zayn has a new lease on life in WWE thanks to his renewed friendship with Kevin Owens. Suddenly, Zayn is back in the headlines. He's on the right track, and he's in perhaps the best spot he's known since coming to the main roster in 2016.
KO is the reason for all that. Zayn is a hot commodity thanks to his best friend.
If the best-friend gimmick sounds familiar, it should. Owens had the same relationship with Chris Jericho. The two were inseparable, and fans loved every minute of it. But when Owens turned his back on Y2J, their friendship was over.
If anyone should know how devious KO can be, it's Zayn.
He was Owens' best friend in NXT, but KO betrayed him as well. Zayn was brutally attacked and left for dead, just like Jericho would be later on. From a storyline point of view, there's just no logical reason why Zayn's character would trust Owens again.
So why have the two been paired up again?
The fact is this angle is working. Zayn and KO are together because they play extremely well off each other. They have the same sort of chemistry Owens had with Jericho, but The Prizefighter and Zayn have been much closer for a much longer period of time.
There's a trust between them and a comfort level each man would not have with anyone else. However, there's more to it than that.
Owens has become Zayn's safety net, a guaranteed way for The Underdog from the Underground to get noticed. Zayn did good work away from Owens, but his best stuff came with Owens. There's just something about the rub KO gives Zayn that's undeniable.
When fans see them together, they automatically see the history between them.
They see Kevin Steen and El Generico. They see Ring of Honor and they see a shared love of the business that brought both men all the way up to the worldwide stage of WWE. Fans may not be able to understand what pro wrestlers go through during the hard times, but there is definitely a great deal of respect for the effort.
Fans appreciate what the talents have to do in order to realize their dreams, and that's true of Zayn.
His underdog gimmick worked perfectly for him because he fit it well. He wasn't always the biggest guy in the fight, and he wasn't always the toughest, but Zayn never backed down. He took the best his opponent had to offer, and he just kept coming back for more.
Fans love that in a guy, and it was the perfect way to endear Zayn to the crowd. The WWE faithful loved him and wanted to see him do well.
But Zayn's runs on Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live were not successful. He had flashes of brilliance along the way, and the chorus of support grew online, but he never seemed to make any progress. It was obvious he wanted it, and he proved that every time he stepped into the ring.
Yet no matter how many times he took unnecessary risks between the ropes or impressed on the mic, Zayn remained in the same place. Either he wasn't fully connecting with the fans or his booking just wasn't there.
Perhaps it was a bit of both.
So WWE chose to inject new life into Zayn by rehashing an old storyline. But regardless of how convoluted the premise of Owens and Zayn's reunion may be, it's working.
However, their friendship has exposed Zayn's lack of connection, though many fans don't even see it. All they know is Zayn and Owens are entertaining together, so that's evidently enough. But some fans are likely seeing another familiar relationship when looking at Owens and Zayn.
Batista had the same sort of relationship with Triple H. Fans loved The Animal, and they loved when he destroyed The Game upon leaving Evolution. Batista had never been more over, and he had also never looked better in the ring than when he faced Hunter.
But Batista with anyone else was just not the same. Fans still popped for him as a babyface and hated him as a heel, but he was not the same talent he was when paired with Triple H. The same can be said of Zayn and Owens.
Zayn's ability in the ring and heart for the business are not in question, and they shouldn't be. He is one of the best hands in WWE today. But for whatever reason, he cannot seem to get over the hump in the company. But at the side of Owens?
The Underdog from the Underground is on his way up.
Like Randy Orton and John Cena, Zayn and Owens will likely always be connected because they came up in WWE together. But they will also be connected because, just like Orton and Cena, Zayn and Owens have a great rivalry. The bad blood will always flow deep for the two men who now call themselves best friends on SmackDown Live.
Eventually, that bad blood will resurface once again. When it does, Zayn will be on his game like never before, and he will have that connection to the audience. He's in the right place with Owens; this is where Zayn was meant to be.
Zayn will have a career outside of Owens, but it will not be one that sees him prosper. He can only do that with KO.
For the news on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens' sudden return home from WWE's European tour, check out Ryan Dilbert's column here.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Bleacher Report. His podcast, Tom Clark's Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com.