In December of 2014, after CJ Parker caught him a little high and busted him open, Kevin Owens' first night in NXT came at the perfect time. He was in front of a group of fans who were going to carry whatever he did on the show that night as far as they could, and regardless of his degree of involvement, it was going to get over. When Sami Zayn ate the powerbomb into the side of the ring, it was one of those portions of time as a wrestling fan where you could sense the magnitude of the moment, and while feelings can occasionally betray us, this was an instance where everything we thought "could be," was.
Yes, for the last several pieces, I've taken parts of WWE and tried to dissect various problems within those areas. Today, however, I want to talk with you about something big the company has gotten exactly right, and it's a credit to them, but also a credit to the subject himself. I was inspired by the "Power of Positivity," and wanted to put a smile on your face today.
Kevin Owens hasn't been WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and with the exception of the tournament at Survivor Series or the Fatal Four-Way in Dallas on RAW, he also hasn't been put in a position where he could conceivably win it in storyline. He's hovered around the United States and Intercontinental Titles, but he hasn't been a main event guy on PPV since his main roster debut last May. Adding another interesting factoid, he also has a losing record on PPV.
- ELIMINATION CHAMBER: Kevin Owens d. John Cena (1-0)
- MONEY IN THE BANK 2015: John Cena d. Kevin Owens (1-1)
- BATTLEGROUND: John Cena d. Kevin Owens (1-2)
- SUMMERSLAM: Kevin Owens d. Cesaro (2-2)
- NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS: Kevin Owens d. Ryback (3-2)
- HELL IN A CELL: Kevin Owens d. Ryback (4-2)
- SURVIVOR SERIES: Dean Ambrose d. Kevin Owens (4-3)
- TLC: Dean Ambrose d. Kevin Owens (4-4)
- ROYAL RUMBLE: Dean Ambrose d. Kevin Owens (4-5)
- FASTLANE: Kevin Owens d. Dolph Ziggler (5-5)
- WRESTLEMANIA 32: Zack Ryder wins the IC Championship (5-6)
- PAYBACK: Kevin Owens d. Sami Zayn (6-6)
- EXTREME RULES: The Miz retains the IC Championship (6-7)
- MONEY IN THE BANK 2016: Dean Ambrose becomes Mr. MITB (6-8)
Believe it or not, this actually proves Kevin Owens might be, outside of John Cena, the single most important member of the WWE roster. He's had to deal with 50-50 booking, he's lost titles, he's won a few, but never for even a split second has he lost a shred of credibility. He's already a two-time IC Champion, but that doesn't mean much these days. However, it did when he held it, because he held it.
He worked a two month program with RYBACK, where he did the bulk of the lifting, then came directly out of that shaky pairing to lose on three consecutive PPV events to Dean Ambrose. Even through all of this, I would argue he and Ambrose are popularity equals, and KO is far more versatile.
He's survived despite weight issues that would doom almost anyone else in Vince McMahon's eyes. I can talk about this, you see, because I have even more severe weight problems than Kevin Owens. Luckily, my job is talking and writing, so it doesn't show up as much until I'm alone at a dinner party. The work doesn't reflect the size, as he has a high motor, reminiscent to Dusty Rhodes in his early days. It never slows him down, nor does it make him any less entertaining in the ring. It doesn't hinder him. If anything, it actually helps him stand out.
Is Kevin Owens REALLY Kevin Owens if he doesn't have the beard and a bit of a stomach and a look that says, "I don't give a damn about these things, because I'm still better than you with one hand tied behind my back."
That one victory over John Cena at Elimination Chamber should be a lesson for WWE and for other promotions, because it still resonates today. It was one win, but it was a deafeningly loud trumpet sound that told every fan, "THIS DUDE IS IMPORTANT." That's something I know I say quite frequently in these articles, but that's because it's never irrelevant to any discussion. John Cena looked up at the lights and did the favors for Kevin Owens. It doesn't matter what happened in the two subsequent bouts, because he's still one of the select few with a clean pinfall victory over HLR Inc. It may as well have been worth ten other PPV wins. It's something that just doesn't happen everyday.
It also meant John Cena saw something in Owens, as he could have politicked his way out of it, one would think. Had KO not gotten the duke in that first meeting, where is he today? Honestly, he might be just fine, because he's a Swiss Army Knife. That said, the win was a rocket ship for the main roster rookie. Overall, no one in the company, outside of Cena, is as effective as Owens is in as many different facets of the business as the Canadian has proven to be since joining WWE.
Can he talk? Yes, to the extent many (including me) are already daydreaming about him joining the booth on a permanent basis once he decides he's had enough of the bumping for a while.
Can he work? He's been one of the more consistent performers in the world for years, long before he ever signed with Vince. Can he get someone else over? Sure, though he hasn't been asked to do that yet, but unquestionably he aided Sami Zayn's sympathy quotient.
Does he have a good reputation? Absolutely. He's a flawless heel on social media, but he's a family man, someone who respects and treats the business with care, and sells like a madman for whomever he's working with in order to make everything they do look like a satin sack filled with cash.
Is he dependable? Even though he's had back trouble dating back to working with ROH and other Independent organizations, on the main roster he's been one of the real rocks Vince could rely upon during the great injury rush of 2015 and early 2016.
Whatever Owens has been handed, he's returned it to the owner in better shape than it was before. He doesn't have the bad attitude some guys do who feel they're better than the material. He's improving as a storyteller, his promos are top notch, and whenever his music hits, fans know it's time to look up and pay attention. Considering everything he's done, the physical knocks against him, and the fact that you could easily go to the movies and see 50 Kevin Owens lookalikes enjoying the film with you, he's truly gifted. I mean, he works in basketball shorts and a t-shirt, and I'd rather watch him than just about anybody in the world.
I view Kevin as this generation's Arn Anderson, which is extremely high praise, as Double A is one of my all-time favorites. He talks to you, rather than at you. He never had a great body, but he's a workhorse and an ultimate professional. He has a mind made for this business, has a passion for it, and gives it his all. Jim Ross would call him a "hell of a hand." I call him one of the most valuable, integral players in the business today.
We all know or have seen our share of Kevin Owens clones in our daily lives, but we still react to this man like he's a superstar, because he is. As "regular" as he might appear from a distance, there's only one Kevin Owens, and thank god we have a chance to watch him live out his dream. The privilege continues to be ours.