While it just seems like WWE is testing the waters of a feud right now, it's pretty clear this is a big-ticket item the company needs to handle properly in the coming weeks and months. It isn't just another feud—this has the potential to carry pay-per-views without a title.
That's expected of Owens and Rollins, of course. The chemistry, in the ring and out, is just there. Both are storied modern legends who can cut wicked promos and keep crowds in the palms of their hands.
But the unexpected is how this can benefit both guys—in this case, especially Rollins.
It is no secret Rollins has been something of a punching bag lately. He put on the stinker of a match at Hell in a Cell with The Fiend and ultimately ended up dropping the title. He's taken shots at various people on social media, including a CM Punk angle that (at least for now, but they're perhaps long-term seeds) isn't going anywhere.
And to Rollins' credit, he embraced it all in a recent interview on WWE Backstage:
That's all well and good, but like Rollins freely admits, he's got the burden of being the top guy. Like plenty before him, most recently Roman Reigns, he's had problems connecting with and keeping every type of fan engaged in his character and storylines.
But a slow burn into heel mode thanks to a feud with Owens? It's the sort of all-encompassing idea that saves angles and shows, if not characters.
The seeding so far has been fun. Rollins called out the Raw roster for its loss at Survivor Series, and Owens fought back. The next week the two traded jabs again. In the process, both top guys have excellently weaved in The Authors of Pain. This is sheer brilliance in the way it gets AOP back in the mindshare of fans, if not introduces them to some new followers.
But observant fans can sort of see where this is going. Owens is the tweener character beloved by all who can't really do any wrong. He's leaning into it, goading Rollins along and likely to keep doing so until Rollins snaps.
Rollins recently had a backstage interview where he noted he's wrong no matter what he does, that he can't please anyone and it's his burden of leadership to carry because nobody else can. But the beginnings of cracks have already started to show, and there isn't a talent on the roster outside of Owens who can keep jabbing at the cracks, leading to a full break.
Even Rollins might attest he's better as a heel. WWE perhaps taking its time getting him there via Owens is just good storytelling. Done right, it could be an iconic moment. The two don't necessarily need to work overly defined roles in this day and age, but it sure doesn't hurt to see some of Rollins' The Architect ways as he puppeteers baddies like AOP to keep on Owens. Rollins eventually getting his due by the stunner-equipped, cussing Owens isn't just shades of Stone Cold chasing after other guys in the past, it's must-see television.
Clearly, much of this has centered on rehabbing Rollins. He's in need of it, and Owens certainly isn't. WWE botched Owens' full-blown transition into a modern Stone Cold recently, but he's as loved as ever by fans regardless. It speaks to the level of his talent in all facets he's been picked as the guy to help along Rollins, whose speedbumps in dead-end feuds with Baron Corbin, teaming up with Becky Lynch and the Fiend disaster have led to, well, disaster.
WWE doesn't need this just for Rollins' sake, either. The Fiend runs wild on blue brand, but with the way the company has suddenly promoted the tar out of the United States title again, it's abundantly clear we're headed into another stretch where Brock Lesnar and his top title disappear for months on end.
Into the void steps this Owens-Rollins feud. In what could be a dead period for WWE, these two can instead put on classics while salvaging the goodwill of one of the company's top guys. It's a win-win from pretty much any vantage point, and if done right, it could have fans eagerly awaiting future episodes of Raw, which hasn't always been the case lately.