Kevin Owens made his WWE main roster debut in the summer of 2015, after a dominant run in NXT. Owens shocked the world by defeating John Cena at Elimination Chamber 2015 in a clean victory, an achievement not many people have ever done especially in their first match. Later that year he became Intercontinental Champion, holding it for nearly three months until he was defeated by Dean Ambrose. He would win it back and make his WrestleMania debut as the Intercontinental Champion; all of which are standard for a wrestler in their first year.
In 2016, following Finn Balor’s injury Owens finally achieved the goal of becoming world champion in WWE after winning the Universal Championship in a Fatal-4-Way match with a huge assist from Triple H. Usually the world champion is the main focal point of Raw and Smackdown, rightly so, but in the case of Kevin Owens, it always felt like he was playing second fiddle to either Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins. He was billed as a ‘prize fighter’, but that nickname was kind of pointless when you consider he’s fighting every week including in matches that have no meaning at all.
The partnership with Chris Jericho was awesome, Jericho became more relevant than he had in years and since then has managed to evolve into one of the biggest active wrestlers even now at the age of 50. Again though, Jericho was the one getting more focus and getting more over than Owens in a year where he became world champion, it just felt like he was not important to the management.
More evidence of this was FastLane 2017, where after turning on Chris Jericho after the festival of friendship (amazing segment by the way), he would lose to Goldberg in less than thirty seconds. To this day it is the only world championship reign which Owens has had and it ended in such a disappointing manner, even worse when you consider that Chris Jericho even explained on Busted Open Radio that the plan was meant to be Jericho vs. Owens in the main event, or at least for the world championship.
Instead, what we ended up getting was the pair fighting for the United States Championship, with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar fighting for the Universal Championship. (I still standby this match did not need a championship involved at all).
The problem I have had with Kevin Owens booking is that he is taken seriously but then also not really. If Vince McMahon is prepared to take a bump, have an in-ring segment with you, and have his son fight you in a Hell in a Cell match, he must really think highly of you.
That promo he did on SmackDown during their feud when his mic was cut off was superb by the way. But at the same time, Owens never is really a consistent main eventer, and if he is in the main event, he often does not walk away with the W particularly if a title is up for grabs.
He wrestled in a high-profile WrestleMania match, teaming with Sami Zayn against Shane McMahon and a returning Daniel Bryan. Baring in mind, this was in April of 2018, he wrestled the final match against Shane McMahon at Summerslam 2019. He also defeated Seth Rollins at Wrestlemania last year, one of their biggest stars so here again is an example of how WWE do obviously like Kevin to a certain point.
The point being with all of that is that WWE likes him enough to have him feud with the McMahon family, a task not many are given the opportunity of doing. Yet, there’s a glass ceiling that is about a foot thick because no matter what I just never see him as a real main eventer.
He’s a good hand, no doubt about it, but it feels like he’s only ever in the main event to fill time while they build-up to the real main event later that year. There was no way that he was going to beat Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble for example.
They have tried to convince us that he is the next Stone Cold due to his rebellious nature and feuds with the boss; they even have got him using the stunner as a finishing move now. It feels extremely forced though, I for one cannot take him as seriously as Steve Austin, they are lightyears apart. I do like Kevin Owens by the way, but the idea of him being on Austin’s level is a joke.
We are in a time where wrestlers do not need to look a certain way to be good, I appreciate that. But you must think about the casual fans; put Kevin Owens next to Drew McIntyre for example, which one are the casual fans going to believe is a wrestler?
I do feel like there’s another World Championship run in him. Maybe a Royal Rumble win next year leading to him having the ultimate WrestleMania moment? But I do not see him ever being taken seriously as a main eventer even if he was to win another world championship.
As far as what is next for Owens, we saw Jey Uso decimate him with that gruesome attack with the chamber door and that will likely lead to a WrestleMania match, and Jey’s first-ever singles match at the big event. I’m sorry to say that I actually think Owens has more or less peaked now; he’s turning into a Dolph Ziggler style wrestler where he is always there and teased as someone to take seriously, but at the end of the day does not really lift up any trees.
I expect this year to be exactly the same for Owens as it has been every other year, he’s there and will give his all in whatever they throw at him, but he won’t reach that next level mostly because I do not think they know what to do with him or indeed how to elevate him.