Former NXT World Heavyweight Champion Kevin Owens returned to WWE’s developmental brand at a live event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Thursday, confronting his former adversary, Sami Zayn, according to several fan reports.
— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) January 15, 2016
Zayn, 31, returned to in-ring action just a few weeks ago after suffering a serious shoulder surgery that cost him a significant portion of his 2015 campaign. Prior to the injury, Zayn was coming off his first singles match on WWE’s main roster when he lost to then-WWE United States Champion John Cena in a match for the title.
However, for most of early 2015, Zayn was feuding with Owens down in NXT for the brand’s championship. Owens dominated Zayn for a vast majority of the feud, capturing the NXT World Heavyweight Championship in the process.
As seen in the video above, Owens wasted no time in trash talking Zayn, calling him a “pumpkin-headed piece of garbage.” After making note that Owens’ appearance at the live event was occurring on his day off, Owens looked straight in Zayn’s eyes, calling him a “pathetic piece of trash.”
The crowd was into Owens’ entire speech and he also didn’t forget to flaunt his success during Zayn’s absence.
“I have been main eventing RAW, I have been main eventing SmackDown, I have been main eventing every show while you’re at home licking your wounds,” said Owens. “Vincent Kennedy McMahon probably doesn’t even know who you are. ”
After a little bit more provoking from Owens, Zayn heard enough and delivered a boot to Owens’ face as he stood in the corner of the ring. The impact from the kick drove Owens out of the ring as the NXT faithful cheered.
“Guess what punk, this isn’t Monday Night RAW, this is N-X-T!” Zayn proclaimed with passion in his voice following the assault on Owens.
With this latest development, there is a lot of speculation going around as to why Owens appeared at the NXT live event. Many fans on Twitter have chimed in, offering the suggestion that perhaps Owens’ appearance might lead to a match Wrestlemania 32. While the WWE’s myriad injuries in recent weeks could lead the company in unique and unexpected directions, there is nothing confirmed in regards to an Owens vs. Zayn match at the event.
In recent interviews, Owens has thrown his name in the hat as a potential opponent for the likes of The Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. Owens told KATC 3,via Wrestlezone, that after Lesnar’s assault on RAW — which included a vicious German Suplex — he’s targeting “The Beast Incarnate.”
“[Lesnar] kinda put his nose in my business where he shouldn’t have. Maybe that’s where we’re going to go soon…there’s obviously beef with Brock Lesnar after last night.”
Aside from Owens’ self-ignited speculation in regards to his potential opponent at the WWE’s biggest show of the year, the former ROH standout will have his hands full in less than two weeks at the Royal Rumble.
On Thursday’s edition of SmackDown, Owens accepted a challenge from WWE Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose for a championship match at the Royal Rumble. The match will be contested under Last Man Standing Rules.
When the match against Ambrose is completed, Owens’ direction heading into the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania 32 should be clearer. For now, avid watchers and fans of NXT should be on the receiving end of a special match between two competitors who have been in-ring rivals for well over a decade.
[Featured Image by JP Yim/Getty Images]