“Where’s my belt! I don’t need a goddamn belt! I made this place! I’m the Champion of the Universe!” – Kevin Owens backstage at Professional Wrestling Guerrilla on 10 July 2015.
Before an electric Houston crowd, the stage was set. Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Seth Rollins and Big Cass faced each other in a four-way elimination match for the WWE Universal Championship. Before hand social media had the opinions on who would triumph, with Big Cass – the outsider, Owens – the guy who most wanted to win but never believed he could, Reigns – dividing the WWE Universe once again and Rollins – seeming the logical choice. I write Seemed the logical choice but this year alone WWE fans should be used to the unexpected, with former Champion Finn Bálor and current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose winning the big one in recent months.
But this is the ‘New Era’ of WWE and a very different world has presented itself due to the result of this twenty-minute plus match, with Big Cass eliminated due to Owens, Reigns pinned by Rollins thanks to a returning Triple H and then the moment that no one believed would happen. As Owens slumped in the turnbuckle corner seemingly at the mercy of the united Rollins and Triple H, Triple H span Rollins and connected with a vicious pedigree allowing Owens to get the pinball victory and become the new & second ever WWE Universal Champion.
“Tonight I teach a 7-foot tall monster that height is irrelevant. I show an architect that his vision is all wrong. I destroy an empire. #RAW – Kevin Owens 29 August – Twitter.
Kevin Owens may be one of the most outspoken members of the WWE roster, but there is no doubting his ability in the ring, no ignoring the excitement you get when you know he’s pissed off and you feel a promo is coming and to think when you put all this together combined within a sixteen year career with Owens wrestling all across the world you know WWE has made the right decision on this night.
The Arrival: When WWE announced that Owens had signed with them back on August 12, 2014, there were many doubters among fans and the dirt sheets proclaimed he wouldn’t be a success with uncredited sources saying he doesn’t have the right WWE look, he needs to lose weight or a person in control doesn’t believe in him. Once again proving that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet, at NXT TakeOver: Rival on February 11th, 2015 he defeated his arch Rival of multiple years in the Independent scene, now known as Sami Zayn to claim the NXT Championship in furious fashion, a Title he would hold until July 4th on a WWE Network special event held in Tokyo, Japan, when Finn Bálor would seize the Championship in an exciting match ending his reign at 143 days.
In the live world of RAW as NXT is recorded, on May 18, 2015 it seemed like a normal episode, John Cena arrived to the ring to issue his U.S Champion open challenge segment, something that had given the Title a new lease of life and relevancy within WWE. Unexpectedly, familiar music hit and it was Kevin Owens with NXT Championship in tow.
“Now I would introduce myself but you know exactly who I am don’t you and if anybody out there doesn’t know who I am well quite frankly those people aren’t worth my time in the first place…
Veteran advice? Are you kidding me? Let me made make something clear I’ve been doing this for 15 years, In fact I’ve been doing this longer than you, he only difference between you and I, is that I didn’t get a break until now so don’t get to give me advice ever?!”
And with chants of “Fight Owens Fight” from the fans, Owens destroyed Cena and then stomped on the United States title in a blatant show of disrespect. This was the statement needed by Owens to show he may have been called up to the main stage, but he had lost none of the brutality, the coldness and the blatant fuck you attitude that had made him a success in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Ring of Honor, Combat Zone Wrestling and many more.
The feud with John Cena was fantastic, the arguments on RAW and matches that followed his debut got wrestling fans across the world talking about what would happen next. However it wouldn’t be until at Night of Champions of that year until Owens took some silverware, defeating Ryback to win the first of his two reigns as Intercontinental Champion. His second would be on the February 15th episode of Raw, when he would seize the title again after a brutal fatal five way match involving Dean Ambrose, Stardust, Tyler Breeze and Ziggler. During this time he would have engaged in a turbulent battle with Ambrose who ended his first reign as Champion and the two would have exciting matches none more so than the last man standing bout at Royal Rumble when Ambrose would retain but that match would let everyone know what both men were capable of.
Cue Sami Zayn…the return of that man at the Royal Rumble and his arrival on RAW to battle Owens as well the monstrous matches that followed was a thing of unrelenting brilliance. Never before in recent years has the WWE Universe and Independent wrestling fans united to tune in for such a feud, countless GIF’s and Meme’s appeared of “We are destined to do this forever” quotes with a backdrop of the two men destroying each other in ladder matches. And even after numerous battles, their matches still felt fresh due to the great storyline involved and the two relentless attempts to top each other.
2015 was a hell of a year for Owens, it wasn’t just noticed by the fans but Pro Wrestling Illustrated even ranked him Number 10 in the Top 500 singles wrestlers of that year, a feat not achieved since 2013. Who knows where he will be this year, as stated in this article, Owens has had a sixteen year career, and to say he his best work has been in the last two years would be insulting to himself and the promotions he worked in.
Many fans remember his amazing work in Combat Zone Wrestling, as well as PWG, at the beginning of the decade in PWG leading to 2014, alongside the Young Bucks and Adam Cole as part of ‘The Mount Rushmore of Wrestling’, and his feuds with El Generico, yup that guy, Adam Cole and Brian Cage were must see viewing. Seriously, this is my personal opinion on this but I’d recommend looking some his PWG matches up. Also when you mention his influence in Ring of Honor from 2007, four letters normally come to mind…S.C.U.M.
Suffering, Chaos, Ugliness, and Mayhem. aligning himself with Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs, the three tore through ROH, pissing off fans, ROH management and everyone else. They did what they wanted and didn’t care who they offended in doing so. It was great to witness, and I haven’t even mentioned the time he hacked ROH twitter account praising PWG. His feud with El Generico, (yes that guy again, you understand why the memes say what they say) that began at Final Battle 2009 when Owens attacked his then tag team partner. What happened afterwards not just with El Generico, their matches back then were phenomenal as well, but his explosive feud with Jim Cornette. The two issues between the two men is something every wrestling fan should read about as it tells of backstage issues, pay issues and creative arguments. Everyone has their diffrrent views on the issues, some say Cornette had little or not interest in Owens, despite Owens producing great wrestling and delivering superb promo’s in the ring while others argue if this is the case why did Cornette book him to the top. Dividing the fans, it was a feud that was electric back then and even now fans speculate if Cornette harbours any resentment towards Owens. But to be honest I doubt Owens really cares on the opinions of the past.
No matter what happens now, Kevin Owens, who yelled after his Championship win, “ITS MY SHOW!”, has made his mark, made his statement regardless of how he won, he is the man WWE wants to represent them for their premier show, RAW. The future in the ‘New Era’ is showing the world that anything can, will and does happen in WWE, and it’s getting everyone talking about it.
“I won” – Kevin Owens, 30th August – Twitter.