Kevin Owens Interview: WWE Universal Champion Wants To Captain Raw At Survivor Series
WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens has always been destined for greatness. The Canadian is a life-long WWE fan who learnt to speak English partly because of listening to the legendary commentary delivered by Jim Ross and promos produced by the Rock growing up.
Owens' journey to be a WWE superstar has been a long one. He spent some 14 years on the independent circuit honing his craft before WWE came calling and signed him to NXT, the company's developmental brand that has transformed into a phenomenon in the wrestling world.
He made a monumental impact when he turned on best friend Sami Zayn after his big NXT title win, beat his former ally for the title at the first time of asking two months to the day after debuting and then exploded onto the scene on the main roster, beating the franchise player John Cena in his first match on the main roster.
The Prizefighter then went on to become a two-time Intercontinental Champion and went one step further in August when he captured the WWE Universal title thanks to an assist from Triple H - someone who has played a huge part in his rise.
Canadian MP Matthew Dubé marked Owens' accomplishments by paying tribute to him in the House of Commons.
We had the pleasure of asking the champ some questions ahead of the WWE Hell in a Cell pay-per-view and UK Tour.
The rivalry between Raw and Smackdown has been an intriguing element of the weekly WWE programming, with both brands doing their very best to one-up one another and be the best wrestling show on television. With Survivor Series coming up, the two brands will lock horns in a number of traditional Survivor Series matches - including a 5-on-5 match between the male competitors of Raw and Smackdown.
As the champion and standard-bearer for Raw, Owens makes it clear that he wants to captain his brand at next month's event in his native Canada.
Speaking to TheSPORTbible, he said:
"I feel like there's no way I won't be in that match. Stephanie [McMahon] has already said that she wants me and Chris [Jericho] to lead the Raw team so that's what's most likely going to happen. As much as I'd love to defend my title in Toronto, it looks like that's the plan and that's the way we're going to go. Whatever I do that night at Survivor Series in Toronto I'll make sure I give it my best."
Before Survivor Series though, there is the small matter of a tour of a Europe, including shows in the UK from November 4 to November 10. Owens has wrestled across the pond a number of times when he was an independent wrestler as well as taking part in these tours after his arrival on the main roster in May 2015. He expresses how much it would mean for him to going into a full a European tour as the WWE Universal Champion and the absolute top guy on Raw.
"It's kind of like a come full circle kind of thing, you know. Like you said I've been to the UK many times before with other promotions, I've been with WWE before and now I get to come back to the UK as the premier champion on Raw, which is the premier brand. As corny as it may sound, it's a dream come true because it's something I've waited for, for so long. so it adds an element of excitement.The UK tour is always one that a lot of the boys look forward to, not just the UK tour but the Europe tour itself - being the champion going into it definitely adds a lot of excitement and I'm definitely looking to do that [come to the UK as Universal Champion] but I have to get past Seth Rollins at Hell in a Cell."
He's awfully busy being Universal Champion and dishing out pop-up powerbombs, but as a well-travelled independent wrestler, Owens remains aware of the impressive talent coming out of the British wrestling scene, with the champ mentioning high-flyer Will Ospreay, who has become a revelation in Japan.
"I'm extremely busy so I don't get to keep up with independent wrestling as much I'd wish but I do know that over the past couple of years there has been an incredible influx of British talent. I still keep up with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla which was my home on the independents for many years and I've seen many of the uk UK guys go over there and really do well for themselves - Will Ospreay in New Japan just to name him and several guys who are doing very well for themselves. Obviously there's a lot of talent there and I feel like it's pretty inevitable that we will see some pop up in WWE, NXT and all over the place so good for them."
Owens and his fellow Canadian Chris Jericho have formed quite the alliance in recent months and have provided a whole host of entertainment segments on Monday nights. It's a friendship that wouldn't been out of place in a buddy cop movie and as someone he watched growing up, KO is very much enjoying working with and learning from Y2J.
"Chris Jericho is always someone I have looked up to, I was a WWE fan growing up and I remember his debut back in the day, Raw would air at midnight in Canada and I'd stay up way past my bedtime, even though I had school the next day, to watch it. Seeing Chris' debut it was probably, at that point in the show, about 1am and I was losing my mind really.
"So to now be able to share the ring with him and do some pretty entertaining stuff on Raw on a weekly basis is pretty special.
"When you work with somebody like that, it's hard to put a finger on exactly what you learn. There's definitely something that imprints when you're in the ring with him and watching him do his thing, I can't put it into words.
"I don't want to be arrogant and say he might be learning from me too, but who knows? What makes someone an elite performer in this industry is that you never stop learning, so I'm sure he does."
Owens has made it evidently clear on a number of occasions, including this conference call, that he is desperate for a match with Brock Lesnar to show that he can hang with the Beast. In terms of other opponents who he feels would bring the best out of him, he talks up NXT's Shinsuke Nakamura and Tye Dillinger, who he wants to see progress to the main roster.
"I'd pick Nakamura as far as getting to wrestle in WWE on a broader spectrum because he's a very unique performer and I don't know anyone who wouldn't like to get in the ring with him. It's not really what you're asking but you're kind of touching on that topic, as far as people from NXT who I would like to see get a chance on the main roster, I'd love to see Tye Dillinger up here because I think he'd be great, people are really taken to the whole thing with 'the Perfect 10' and that's a guy I saw for a couple of years in NXT try things out and I always thought he was tremendous but now 'the Perfect 10' really seems to have connected to the crowd. I think he'd do great up here [on the main roster] and I'd love to get in the ring with him on a stage like Raw, for sure."
One opponent he has wrestled all over the world in PWG, ROH, NXT and WWE is Sami Zayn. The two have a knack of serving up a magical match when they are in the ring - the classic they delivered at Battleground in July is concrete evidence. Though the remain on the same brand, Kevin and Sami have not interacted since their epic clash. However, they are destined to fight forever and Owens feels as though they will lock up again - with Wrestlemania, the grandest stage of them all, the perfect platform for them to renew their rivalry.
"I feel like Sami and I are definitely going to be in the same ring again and WrestleMania would be a logical place to do it. That match at Battleground, although it didn't go the way I wished it had, I definitely think it was the match of the year so far, as humble as I can sound by saying that! I can't think of a better match yet. So doing it for the WWE Universal Championship at WrestleMania, or anywhere else for that matter with the title on the line, would really add another level to it. I definitely think it's going to happen at some point."
You can catch Kevin Owens when WWE LIVE returns to the U.K. this November 4th to 10th. For tickets, please visit http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/
• Friday, 4 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: The SSE Wembley Arena, London, England
• Saturday, 5 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: Butlins, Minehead, England
• Saturday, 5 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: Manchester Arena, Manchester, England
• Sunday, 6 Nov., 5 p.m.: Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, England
• Sunday, 6 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: First Direct Arena, Leeds, England
• Monday, 7 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: Monday Night Raw at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland
• Monday, 7 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: GE Oil & Gas Arena, Aberdeen, England
• Tuesday, 8 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: SmackDown Live at The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Scotland
• Wednesday, 9 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: Genting Arena, Birmingham, England
• Thursday, 10 Nov., 7:30 p.m.: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales
Images via WWE
Words by Josh Lawless
Featured Image Credit: WWE