Sunday night at SummerSlam, the tag team division as a whole had a much different complexion to it than in the months since WrestleMania. Sami Zayn and Neville were paired together, seemingly at the last minute, to take on the much more established Dudley Boyz. The six teams from Smackdown battled in an effort to separate one from the pack while finishing with a subtle twist.
The newly-formed Jeri-KO defeated fan-favorites Enzo & Big Cass in front of their home crowd to kick off the official SummerSlam card. And The New Day were forced to defend their WWE Tag Team Championships without Big E, although he did appear at the finish to save Jon Stewart and the group’s titles.
As noted, Zayn and Neville weren’t even on the SummerSlam card until last Friday, just two days before the marquee event. Zayn was even doing media appearances Friday afternoon when he was questioned about why he didn’t have a match, and what was next for him. At the time, he seemed as confused as his fans, but he diplomatically hoped that something special was waiting for him. Perhaps a thrown-together match on the kickoff show wasn’t what he had in mind, but it might not be a one-time deal.
According to Ringside News, the WWE is continually looking to beef up their tag team division, and that may lead to more tag matches with Sami Zayn and Neville on the same team. If you recall, Neville recruited Sin Cara several weeks ago in a match against the Dudleys, but now that seems to be more of the one-off deal than this pairing with Zayn. The two babyfaces were still victorious at SummerSlam as the Dudleys continued to have issues in the ring, leading many to believe that they will split up shortly.
If the WWE wanted to continue to bolster their tag team division, it might make more sense to keep Bubba Ray and D-Von together, but if they do split them up, a new team appears to be waiting in the wings to help the division continue in the short-term. If the plan is indeed to continue with Zayn and Neville as an official tag team, then the move to get them on the SummerSlam card makes sense. But if the main goal of the match was to continue the Dudley dissension, then Sami and Neville were just pawns.
As previously alluded to, the finish to the 12-man tag match on the kickoff show saw Jimmy Uso steal the pinfall victory from American Alpha after making a blind tag to Chad Gable. This was likely set up to turn The Usos heel as the WWE needs an established team to give Jordan & Gable their first significant main-roster feud. That’s all on Smackdown Live, though, as Zayn and Neville face an uphill battle on RAW where the division is loaded with popular teams.
What makes this pairing even more difficult for some fans to swallow is the fact that Zayn is coming off a top notch match at Battleground. He and Kevin Owens were booked in a grudge match that was billed to bring finality to a feud that has spanned many years and many different promotions. Wrestling pundits and fans alike argued that their match was the best on the card that night, and one that Zayn won. Owens rightfully moved in a new direction alongside Chris Jericho, but nothing of significance was waiting for Sami leading into the second-biggest show of the year.
We may not have very long to wait to find out whether this tag team of Zayn and Neville has a long shelf life. The Cruiserweight Division is set to debut on RAW in September, and there have been rumblings going around that Neville may be placed at the top of that group as the company is looking for a standout star to carry it. Both Sami Zayn and Neville are former NXT Champions, but they now find themselves linked for no other reason than the creative team couldn’t find anything of relevance for them. Can they make this work?
[Image via WWE]