It took a little longer than anticipated, but this dragging-out of the Kevin Owens-Shane McMahon feud is finally having a noticeably negative impact on both Superstars.
At one point, Owens was looking like an anti-authority, Stone Cold-type character who was going to do whatever he wanted while taking down a McMahon. If a McMahon has to be on television and taking slots in pay-per-views, this was probably the way to go.
Fast-forward to present day, though, and Owens and Shane are feuding over...a lawsuit?
It's all as strange as it sounds:
Shane canned Owens, so the latter is back with a lawsuit because this drawn-out feud apparently needed to have another twist instead of simply ending and letting both guys go their separate ways.
In the process, the sour feeling most fans seem to have toward Shane only continues to get worse. And now Owens has gone from a rebellious presence ready to topple a company to a guy who was reduced to begging to have a fine reduced and then filing a lawsuit.
When lawsuits and contract details start flying, it feels like WWE is reaching in the dark for ideas.
This is all especially silly considering Owens is shivering in fear about a fine and/or suspension or even losing his job when he's not too far off from—wait for it—putting his job on the line at SummerSlam in the early goings of this feud.
WWE hasn't always been good with continuity in tales. It has to fall right into the proverbial lap. Think, the recent Randy Orton-Kofi Kingston feud.
But this? It's a jumbled mess that doesn't make a ton of sense, which makes it feel like a boring way to keep both guys on television with something to do.
To take this a step further, if Owens is so afraid of all of these things and his character is supposedly scared of these repercussions because he needs to make money for his family, why did he fight his boss in the first place?
Look, that might be taking it perhaps a step too far in the analysis department. An anti-authority figure like Owens is relatable and has been since this was Mr McMahon in the ring, not his son. This was going in the right direction until Owens did a 180 and started literally begging Shane not to fine him.
But when contracts starting coming into storylines, things just get boring. There's a surprise clause! And it's one, especially if jobs are supposedly at stake, that won't end up mattering.
Longtime fans will have some serious deja vu here. When Shane fired Owens, the best possible thing WWE could have done would be to have the jobless Superstar stop showing up. It's a novel idea. Yes, fans are paying to see these guys. But throw that out the window and really sell this. Owens lost his job. He's showing up in the stands sometimes, maybe popping over to NXT. But he isn't at SmackDown. Have him come back later.
This is one of the main criticisms from the Summer of Punk and the surrounding events. When CM Punk took the WWE Championship off John Cena and escaped through the crowd with the company's top title as his contract expired, keeping him off television or even having him pop up at other promotions or something would have been downright amazing. Instead, Punk returned pretty quickly and the whole angle poofed.
This had the potential to be the Summer of Owens, especially once he started using the Stunner and railing against his bosses. But it's devolved into something more akin to a see-it-and-forget-it feud in the Dolph Ziggler category.
A payoff here isn't going to be much of a payoff. The big ending to this felt like when Owens beat Shane and was permitted to keep his job. With SmackDown's impending move to Fox, maybe this is the way to write Shane off television as the blue brand undergoes a makeover via the draft. But that's more in line with wishful thinking—Shane draws so much as a presence that the product can't afford to lose him.
That's the other frustrating part here. Shane's involvement was detested by some yet still made some sense on the back of the attention he garners. SummerSlam felt like the cutoff, though, and he could be out there doing something interesting with other Superstars. Instead, he's still on with Owens and throwing around something boring in a relatable way for most viewers: paperwork.
From this point, any time Shane shows up in a feud, it's going to lead to widespread groans because after an initial match, should it continue, lawsuits and petty boss stuff like fines are going to fly. There isn't a big direction to go in otherwise, which is funny for those who thought the "best in the world" stuff was as bad as it was going to get.
Barring a return to NXT as a top contender there, the same ramifications apply to Owens. He's one of WWE's best performers, but this never-ending gauntlet of perceived character misses (even if that's not what WWE was going for) and drowning in things like fines for the betterment of his family is a tough act to recover from in today's environment.
It's a shame it has come to this, especially since the boss vs. beloved wrestler thing has a tried-and-true blueprint. WWE digging a proper out from this and salvaging the storyline and both characters would be quite a feat, but given the names involved, here's to hoping.