On December 28, 2015, there were few memorable moments on a predominantly myopic edition of Monday Night Raw. Another episode unintentionally assayed its fan base’s forbearance by seeing how much shallow and fatuous booking one can deal with. However, a roster member still stood out on an otherwise episode to forget.
That wrestler, to no surprise, was Kevin Owens.
Kevin Owens’ NXT career had a historic start. Triple H did not treat Owens' debut as he would most. He made certain everyone realized that Kevin Owens was a special talent by publicizing his debut match on pay-per-view. On that TakeOver pay-per-view (PPV), the biggest question looming through the show was if Owens would betray his best friend, Sami Zayn.
WWE rarely exploits these types of situations, the stories that tell themselves and/or the ones fans want to witness the most. They instead wait far too long to pull the trigger or do not care about doing it at all. They especially do not care about feuds which originated outside of their little world (because they abhor bringing in wrestler's non-WWE careers into the mix). Triple H did not allow unwritten rules mar great story in the making. So, he capitalized on the situation by making Owens turn on Zayn on the night where Zayn finally got over the hump.
A few months later, Kevin Owens lacerated Sami Zayn, pummeling him so horrendously that the referee called off the match for Zayn’s own protection. In a short time, Owens was the new NXT champion -- and the company was a breath of fresh air, as a result.
As a part of the story, Zayn took a few months off from TV. He came back unexpectedly on Monday Night Raw, answering one of John Cena’s United States Championships open challenges. He took Cena to the limit, showing his sensational athleticism as well as his uncanny selling aptitudes off. Zayn came up short in a hard-fought battle. Losing to Cena was not the biggest loss he suffered, though. His biggest lost was his arm injury that needed surgery to repair it.
Injury and all, Zayn battled against Kevin Owens once more. However, he suffered the same fate, being on the short stick of a one-sided beat down, and at the expense of Zayn, Owens received another opportunity: a replacement spot on the main roster.
Similar to his NXT debut, Owens' WWE debut was a night to remember. He out-talked John Cena on the microphone, putting him in his place by telling him he had been wrestling more than he has. To add insult to injury, Owens pop up powerbombed Cena for the hell of it.
Owens ended up having three matches with Cena. The first one he cleanly won and the second one he lost. So, it came down to the rubber match – a match everyone expected Owens would come out as the victor but did not. Cena defeated Kevin Owens via making him tap out to the STF.
Many did not understand why this happened. It seemed WWE was making Kevin Owens into one of its biggest antagonists on the roster -- only for them to pull the rug right from under him. Reports came out that some people were not pleased with his appearance while other reports said that WWE was worried that Cena losing the rubber match would hurt his marketability.
Regardless, it hardly mattered that he lost the match. What mattered was what happened afterwards and that is where the problem has lain. He has become another cookie-cutter wrestler on the roster, another brick in the wall (albeit a very talented one who occasionally makes something worthwhile on his on accord). He trades wins and losses with the other mid carders; his matches follow the same platitude WWE formula, almost spot for spot; and he lacks many chances to talk, and when he does, it comes off as a routine over-scripted WWE promo, almost word for word.
Surely, Owens had outstanding matches with Cena and undeniably gained credibility from defeating him. But the feud with Cena is not the reason he became over. The feud was a spotlight which exhibited his true capabilities. In other words, it allowed him to be himself.
You see, Owens is an outstanding character and tremendous wrestler when he may be one. The difference between Owens then and Owens now comes down to just that. Nobody can hit a home run if he is on the bench, just as no one can become an outstanding talker nor wrestler without the opportunity.
Regardless, he is one of those rare wrestlers who can make the most out of nothing. As seen on Raw, he is making the best of this feud with Dean Ambrose over a championship so unimportant and counterproductive it has marred many wrestlers careers. If Owens and Ambrose, to his credit too, can make the best of conflict over a worthless championship, then the sky would be the limit if creative provided him with sound material to work with in 2016.
He posses "it", as he has the little things nobody can teach someone. It is either in someone or it is not. The way he can improvise a fitting, realistic mannerism or how he can deliver a line a certain way are good examples. He has a feel for crowd and can work off their emotion on the fly. He moreover has an overall feel for wrestling both in and outside the ring, knowing when t
Considering that Owens makes the best of nothing and WWE's creative struggles coming up with anything, well, creative, he would be perfect for them. He is someone who can turn sub-par material into something good, mediocre material into something great and good material into something special.
2016 should be the year of Kevin Owens. He is the most interesting character on the main roster, the best talker and one of the best in-ring workers. It is time for WWE to get over their fear of a wrestler not looking like a poster boy. Besides, a wrestler's idiosyncrasies is what causes them be distinguishable....and more interesting, as well.