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Kevin Owens returns, announced as Bryan's new Fastlane challenger

Kevin Owens returned to the ring tonight and was announced as Daniel Bryan's new challenger for Fastlane.

A contract signing for Bryan and Kofi Kingston's WWE Championship match at the pay-per-view had been advertised as the focal point of this week's SmackDown. The segment started off the show, but it led to Vince McMahon coming out, introducing Owens, and announcing that Owens will be replacing Kingston in the title match at Fastlane.

The storyline was Vince saying Owens is more deserving of the title shot. Vince said he has to give the audience the "highest caliber competition" and "biggest box office" he can.

Owens came out and signed the contract for the title match. Big E and Xavier Woods were furious, and the fans chanted for Kingston as New Day went backstage.

There was then a segment where Owens asked Stephanie and Shane McMahon if he could team with Kingston against Bryan & Rowan. Owens said he thinks Kingston is just as deserving of challenging Bryan as he is.

Owens & Kingston faced Bryan & Rowan in this week's main event. Owens pinned Bryan after hitting a stunner, with Kingston taking out Rowan with a dive before Owens got the win.

Big E and Woods both sent out tweets to further the angle. Big E wrote: "I don’t even know why we’re surprised anymore."

Woods tweeted: "So what else does @TrueKofi have to do? He’s a multi-time champion. He’s given 11 amazing years to this company. He’s pinned the @wwe champion. Kofi is more than good enough. Kofi is more than worthy. What else do you want from him? WHAT ELSE?"

Tonight was Owens' first match since undergoing double knee surgery in October 2018. He was on Raw before having surgery, but WWE had been hyping that he could be on Raw or SmackDown when he returned.

Fastlane is taking place at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10.