Kevin Owens realized a lifelong dream two weeks ago, capturing the WWE Universal Championship after defeating Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Big Cass in a fatal four-way elimination match on RAW. He did not do it alone, however, as an assist from a returning Triple H allowed Owens to win the title.
It was a fitting conclusion for Owens, who signed with the WWE in 2014 after Triple H himself, the head honcho behind NXT, signed the former Ring of Honor champion. Owens debuted in NXT in late 2014 and has since run roughshod through both the developmental and main roster ranks.
In a recent appearance on Chris Jericho’s Talk is Jericho podcast, Owens spoke about how fitting the ending to RAW two weeks ago was for him — and the show itself.
— WWE (@WWE) September 6, 2016
“It couldn’t have been better, but not just for storyline purposes, the ‘where do we go from here?’, ‘why did Triple H do it?’, ‘what’s going to happen with Seth [Rollins] and Triple H?’, this and that. It obviously opens a lot of doors for interesting stuff TV-wise,” Owens said to Jericho (h/t Wrestling Inc). But for me personally, when you win the world title, people assume, ‘oh, you probably want it to be this incredible battle where you claw, blood, sweat, and tears, and you just had this apparent moment.’ Besides the fact that I’m a heel, Triple H got me here. He made the call to hire me. He made the call to take a chance on me because he hired somebody who wasn’t a cookie cutter WWE Superstar. And there would have been a chance where somebody would have been like, ‘you hired him? Are you kidding?’
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) September 6, 2016
Considering his stocky build and general unique look, Owens does not profile as a prototypical WWE superstar. However, in an era where WWE is open to working with other companies and signing established veterans from other federations, Owens found himself in the right situation to succeed in an evolving WWE.
But when he first signed, success — especially on the scale he has attained it — was far from a promise.
“Even when I was hired, I was told by [WWE Senior Director or Talent Development] Canyon Ceman who called me to announce ‘okay, we’re going to sign you, but I was specifically told to tell you don’t get your hopes up for RAW or SmackDown because you’re not the typical WWE Superstar. You’re going to have a chance in NXT just like everyone else.’ So I said, ‘oh, I’m up for the challenge’ and he said, ‘I figured that’s what you were going to say’. That’s how my career started here and then Triple H always obviously believed in me. That’s why he signed me and he saw something in me.”
Even other veterans at the Performance Center in Florida were not sure what Owens’ appeal or Triple H’s interest in him was. It was explained to him when he started.
“Terry Taylor even straight up told me once at the Performance Center, he was like, ‘Triple H sees something in you. I don’t see it, but it’s my job to bring it out.'” Owens said. “And then, later on, like, now, I have a great relationship with Terry. But part of why I love it is because he’s so honest. Other people really dislike that about Terry. I love it.”
Owens has even established a rapport with WWE chairman Vince McMahon. Many have said how intimidating McMahon could be but after an initial reluctance, Owens said he has been more inclined to speak with McMahon when needed.
— Cageside Seats (@cagesideseats) September 1, 2016
“But that’s only because I make a point of going in there when I have a question instead of letting my producer do it because people like [Jericho], or John [Cena], or Randy [Orton] have told me, ‘what are you sending someone else for?'” Owens continued, “the thing about it is he’s intimidating because he’s Vince. But once you get in there, he’s not intimidating. He’s not trying to intimidate anybody.”
Now, two years into his WWE stint, Owens is enjoying the success that, not too long ago, was a fantasy in most peoples’ minds. As he prepares for his first title defense against Seth Rollins at Clash of Champions, there are still several highlights to come in his WWE career.
“So anyway, last Monday night, Triple H literally handing me the title, but that was a moment, like, that was incredible to me and I got to say ‘thank you’ in the ring,” Owens said. “Like, he gave me the title and I said, ‘thank you’, but it wasn’t ‘thank you for giving me the title’. It was ‘thank you for everything’. Yeah, because without him, like, I had Steve Austin saying good things about me [and] I even had The Rock saying good things about me before I got signed by WWE. But without Triple H taking that chance, who knows where I’d be now?”
[Photo via WWE]