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By Ciaran-James @TheCiaranJames
Since the infamous “Festival of Friendship” the serious side of Kevin Owens has returned, not since his stint in NXT have we seen this vicious side of KO. Owens Universal Title reign came out of nowhere, after ending his feud (momentarily) with Sami Zayn in the spring Owens treaded water for a while. His friendship with Chris Jericho started in the summer of 2016, together they proved a very entertaining tandem and were soon the highlight of RAW post draft. They teamed together and were successful at Summerslam defeating Enzo & Cass, the duo was picking up pace. Further success followed for Owens after Summerslam as he qualified for a Universal Championship opportunity, in a match where he did nothing the former NXT Champion emerged victorious as Triple H ran in and handed the title to KO.
The reaction to Owens winning the Universal Title was overwhelming, the live audience the following week rejoiced in his victory. With AJ Styles as WWE Champion and KO now holding RAW’s equivalent the majority felt WWE was headed in a new direction post draft, however on RAW things were far from changing. Unfortunately for Owens it was clear that WWE did not see him as a worthy champion, as is the booking these days KO was made to look weak and cowardly, often relying on new friend Chris Jericho to save him. Although another protégé of Triple H, Kevin was never going to receive the type of booking his mentor did in his glory years, HHH was pushed strong and hard and rarely relied on others. For the next six months, Universal Champion Kevin Owens was nothing more than a comedy character, and relied all too often on Y2J to retain his title.
As the return of Goldberg proved best for business WWE got carried away and started to look differently at Wrestlemania, at first it seemed Owens would clash with Jericho, however that changed at Fastlane. Two weeks prior to that KO did what we all expected and violently turned on Y2J, dismissing their friendship within seconds the Universal Champion was making a statement. One week Owens cut one of the best promos of the year, as RAW opened the “Prizefighter” made his feelings about Jericho and Goldberg abundantly clear. His vocal performance received critical acclaim, many stated the old Owens was back and what a welcome it was. His confidence seemed to grow as he took his place at the top of the mountain, his cold-hearted attack on Sami Zayn later in the show cemented his return to being a true heel.
His scheduled match with Goldberg at Fastlane occurred, as we all know he lost but the defeat just passed him by. Goldberg wasn’t in KO’s league, so what if he lost the title to a fifty-year-old who can’t really wrestle. Kevin had bigger things on the horizon, in the weeks after he revealed his true intentions and why he attacked Jericho. With beautiful brutality, he described how he used Y2J to keep the Universal Title over his shoulder and his enemies at arm’s length, Chris was just a pawn in the evolving KO/Triple H agenda. The feud slowly unfolded over the coming weeks, Owens along with new ally Samoa Joe randomly attacked Jericho and familiar foe Zayn on episodes of RAW. Both Chris & Kevin have delivered without argument and have overshadowed most on RAW, it’s their feud that receives the biggest reaction, it’s their feud that most are personally interested in.
This past week on RAW, Chris Jericho presented a very special episode of the “Highlight Reel”, although the segment was exciting it didn’t really help with Owens new villainous character. Jericho ran through a quick history of Kevin Owens, calling him a smark and revealing messages between the two in 2014. It’s nice to see that WWE still view hardcore fans as smarks in 2017, the segment although good was unnecessary in parts. Thankfully it came to an end at the hands of Owens via a distraction from Joe, KO stormed the ring and attacked Jericho once more, and he tore up the “List of Jericho” and proceeded to eat the paper, stopping to spit it at Y2J. The look on Kevin’s face was money, it’s those kinds of visuals that sell the match and stoke the excitement of fans, and it was that look that made Owens the vilest heel on RAW. It’s that KO that we want to stay around before his inevitable face turn. The look of disdain on Owens face was exceptional, the snarling former champion stood above his fallen foe, happy with his destruction.
Kevin Owens is one of the most appealing wrestlers WWE have at their disposal, in 2014 he debut in NXT and proceeded to raise the bar. Within six months he was challenging and defeating John Cena on a main WWE PPV, the snarling, violent KO we saw in ROH, NXT & WWE is the one that sells tickets, he’s the guy that makes you to tune in every week. The evidence is there for WWE to see, the “Prizefighter” Kevin Owens is “Money”, it doesn’t matter if he’s walking, talking or wrestling, he has our attention. Please WWE give us this Kevin Owens.