Kevin Owens and legendary tag team The Hardy Boyz made surprise returns to WWE on Tuesday's SmackDown, leading to some bad news for Kofi Kingston. Canadian grappler Owens first made his name on the independent scene, using his given name of Kevin Steen. When Owens signed with WWE and made his debut as part of NXT in late 2014, his name was altered to its current version, and he quickly cemented himself as one of the brand's top heels. Owens has mostly retained this status on the main roster, winning multiple major championships.
Real-life brothers Matt and Jeff Hardy first signed with WWE in the late 1990s, and became huge stars via their series of ladder, table, and TLC matches against rivals Edge and Christian and The Dudley Boyz. Both would also see considerable success as singles stars, winning multiple world championships in both WWE and Impact Wrestling. After a long time away, Matt and Jeff returned to WWE at WrestleMania XXXIII in 2017, first competing as a team and then once again going their own ways.
Owens has been out with knee injuries since October 2018, having last wrestled as part of a tag team match against John Cena and Bobby Lashley at Australia's Super Show-Down event. Owens' return has been teased multiple times over the last month, but nobody really expected him to appear as soon as Tuesday's SmackDown broadcast. Matt Hardy hasn't wrestled on WWE programming since a July 2018 episode of Raw, and for a while it looked like he was set to retire. Clearly, that didn't turn out to be the case.
Owens' return in particular made waves on SmackDown, as not only did he resurface, he's also now set to main event the Fastlane pay-per-view against WWE champion Daniel Bryan. The New Day's Kofi Kingston had been set to challenge Bryan after a great performance at Elimination Chamber, but for now, is on the outside looking in. The onscreen explanation for the swap came via Vince McMahon, who insisted that Kofi just wasn't a marketable enough challenger for a pay-per-view, and held up Owens as a worthy opponent for Bryan. It remains to be seen if a triple threat somehow comes out of this.
The reuniting of The Hardy Boyz as a tag team came without explanation, as the duo simply emerged to face The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) during SmackDown's first match of the evening. Naturally, the brothers received a huge ovation from the WWE fans, and Matt looks to be in wonderful shape after such a long layoff. One assumes the Hardys will soon challenge for the SmackDown tag team titles, at least after Shane McMahon and The Miz get their rematch against champions The Usos at Fastlane.