Kevin Owens burst on to the WWE scene in the summer of 2015 and proclaimed he belonged by beating John Cena in his first match ever on the main roster. Unfortunately for Owens, he fell in defeat to Cena during their next two matches and was forced to slide down the card in the aftermath. It wasn’t until two summers later that Owens would completely reclaim the magic he debuted with, thanks in large part to a lengthy program with Chris Jericho.
Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, commonly referred to as Jeri-KO or Team Chris & Kevin or Team Kevin & Chris, put together some of (if not most of) the most entertaining segments of Monday Night RAW on a weekly basis. Their first notable pay-per-view match together came at the 2016 SummerSlam when they teamed up to take on, and defeat, Enzo & Cass during the opening match of the show’s main card.
It should be noted that when Jericho returned to the WWE last January, he was originally only planning on staying for a four-month run, mainly to help elevate Dean Ambrose. That feud was delayed due to injuries and Jericho agreed to extend his stay after a memorable program with AJ Styles. Y2J eventually had the rivalry with Ambrose, but it was the on-screen partnership with Kevin Owens that kept him (and will keep him) around for a year longer than he was planning.
The SummerSlam injury to Finn Balor opened the door for Kevin Owens to become the new Universal Champion, which he did on the August 29 episode of RAW, thanks to some assistance from Triple H. Owens ascended to the main event scene and Jericho went with him by association. As noted, their on-screen relationship provided some of the most significant weekly segments on WWE programming, most notably perhaps, the birth of “The List of Jericho.”
Surprisingly, however, Kevin Owens didn’t quite see it the same way a lot of the WWE Universe did. Owens was a recent guest of The Steve Austin Show where he revealed that once he became Universal Champion, he felt like he had to rid himself of Jericho because their shtick had become a distraction to his main goals (Thanks to Wrestling Inc for the transcription).
“Once I took that title, I feel like I’ve got sidetracked with Chris and it was more about being entertaining and being funny and kind of popping each other and entertaining each other, just seeing how much fun we could have every Monday night, which is important in what we do, but there’s also a side of what we do where at one point you’ve got to get serious and get your head where it needs to be. And I feel as Universal Champion, I haven’t done that yet. And with Goldberg coming after me; you’ve got Brock Lesnar here every week, almost, now; and I went through Seth Rollins; I went through Roman Reigns; But there [are] a lot of other people coming for that title and I think it was time to get rid of the distraction.”
“Getting rid of the distraction” came in a very memorable moment as you’ll recall from two weeks ago. Owens turned on Jericho during the “Festival of Friendship” segment, which will ultimately set up a match between the two at WrestleMania. Though it has to be surprising to hear that Owens felt like Jericho was holding him back to a certain degree.
“I will say that it had to happen and it was a long time coming. I feel like, just on my end, regardless of why, as far as the relationship that Chris and I had, I feel like I’ve been, ever since I won the Universal Championship, I’ve really haven’t been myself and I got here by being myself for 16 years.”
Some will read Owens’ quotes and say that he is acting in character or kayfabe, but there’s no need to do so on Austin’s podcast which wasn’t even on the WWE Network. It’s apparent that Owens wants to be taken more seriously. That wasn’t always the case when he and Jericho were in the ring together. He did admit that the break-up was a great moment, however.
“I think so because, like I said, I probably, without that distraction, I would’ve been in a different mindset and I would’ve been at a different level as far as my in-ring competition and my in-ring skills. But, I mean, I’ve always believed in myself, quite frankly, and believed in my abilities. Like I said, Chris was a distraction. It just had to happen and it happened. And, if I do say so myself, what a moment…”
[Featured Image by WWE]