Kevin Owens was red hot when he entered the WWE after a stint in NXT as their champion. He showed up and the first man he challenged was John Cena, which he followed up by pinning cleanly in the middle of the ring. While Cena won that feud, Owens continued to work on his promos, in-ring work, and character and became a very entertaining heel.
However, since Kevin Owens won the WWE Universal Championship thanks to interference by Triple H, the WWE has booked him as a chicken heel who has not won a single pay-per-view title defense cleanly. He had to cheat to win all his matches and needed Chris Jericho to help him retain his title.
While that worked in the past with heels like “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, at least Flair put on great matches without interference as well and won many of those on his own. Kevin Owens was booked to look like he couldn’t win without help and the audience started to turn on him.
If the WWE audience was turning on Kevin Owens for being a heel, that would not be a problem. However, Forbes reported that attendance at Monday Night Raw events, including live shows, TV shows, and pay-per-views, have dropped with Kevin Owens as the champion. Frightful.com even reported that house show attendance for the Raw brand is the lowest it has been since 2006.
While this has to be seen as the result of bad booking and storytelling that is not compelling, it looks like the WWE is making a change. Bill Goldberg has been on a tear since returning, but has only wrestled twice. He beat Brock Lesnar in under two minutes and then took part in the Royal Rumble match, once again showing up Lesnar.
With Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar the biggest match at WrestleMania this year, the WWE needs Goldberg to remain strong and now it looks like they will have him walk in as the WWE Universal Champion. There is almost no chance that Kevin Owens beats Bill Goldberg at Fastlane.
The problem is that Kevin Owens is suddenly gaining momentum heading into WrestleMania and is finally a compelling character in the WWE. It all started with him turning on Chris Jericho and eliminating a lot of the comedy from his act. Kevin Owens arrogance and anger are making him interesting for the first time since he won the Universal Championship.
Kevin Owens will fight Chris Jericho at WrestleMania. The question is whether or not Owens will look strong heading into the match. The only way that can happen is for the match with Bill Goldberg to work well in Kevin Owens favor.
Forbes pointed out that the idea is for Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar to be for the Universal Championship. That would add a prize to the already anticipated match. However, with house show attendance low, would the WWE want their biggest title on someone who will never wrestle at a house show, or on Monday Night Raw for that matter?
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For all his faults, Kevin Owens has been on Raw every week and has been very entertaining even when he was booked poorly in matches. The WWE has put their world title on a part time star who never showed up in the past with both Brock Lesnar and The Rock. The querstion is now whether that would further hurt attendance at WWE events.
Kevin Owens faces Bill Goldberg tonight at Fastlane for the Universal Championship on the WWE Network.
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