Kevin Owens is a prize fighter. He keeps reminding us of that each week he is on WWE television. Looking at his track record, it is tough to argue that point. It seems since getting to know him, fans have almost heard his name exclusively said in a championship context. Recently, Owens’ name has gotten further and further away from those golden whispers however. Kevin’s usual tactics have instead backfired recently. Has Kevin Owens taken his eyes of the prize?
The NXT Championship
When he arrived in NXT at their TakeOver: Revolution event, Kevin Owens was met with incredible excitement from those in attendance at Full Sail University and those watching around the world on the WWE Network. In fact, the fanfare he received was that of a hero’s welcome. Thunderous applause greeted the man formally known as Kevin Steen, but by the end of the night, many of those same fans applauding had changed their tune. After his long time tag team partner Sami Zayn defeated Adrien Neville to become the NXT Champion, Kevin came out to congratulate his friend; only to turn on him moments later by smashing his head into the steel ramp way and power bombing him on the ring apron.
It didn’t take long for Owens to explain his actions, and his logic was simple and sound. He came to NXT to make a better life for his family. To accomplish this, he would need to win championships fast. In his mind he deserved a title shot immediately, and the fastest way to do this was to create a personal issue with the NXT Champion. His plan almost backfired when NXT General Manager William Regal originally offered a non-title match to Owens, but it was then that the former Steen revealed his modus operandi. Owens stated that when he fights, he fights for a prize, and only agreed to the match is the NXT Championship was the prize he fought for. Sami Zayn agreed to the stipulation and within two months, Owens plan ended with him standing in the middle of Full Sail University holding his newly won NXT Championship above his head.
United States Championship & Intercontinental Championship
As it always is with men like him, one prize just wasn’t enough for Owens, so he set his sights on a new prize. For months, John Cena had been issuing open challenges for the United States Championship. While many had tried, only a few managed to come close to defeating the leader of the Cenation. One of those men happened to be Sami Zayn. Zayn’s success ate away at Owens, so once again he used a persona issue to skyrocket him to his next prize of the United States Championship. Owens answered Cena’s challenge but decided to use a familiar tactic of making an issue personal to get what he wanted. His matches with John Cena were heralded with praise from fans, and even more impressive was the fact that Kevin managed to defeat Cena in their first contest at Elimination Chamber. Although his rematch at Money In The Bank and his official title match at Battleground were unsuccessful, he did walk away with an impressive 2nd place trophy of a spot on the WWE main roster.
With a new territory comes new challenges and new prizes to be won. Having failed to capture the United States Championship, Owens set his sights one of WWE’s oldest and most sought after prizes, the Intercontinental Championship held by Ryback. The always hungry man from Las Vegas won the title at Elimination Chamber, coincidently the same night Owens scored the biggest win of his career. The two headed for a collision course that culminated at Night of Champions with Owens winning the championship. Another trophy added to Kevin’s collection.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship?
After winning the Intercontinental Championship, the only place to go is up, and with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship vacated, it was the opportunity Owens was looking for to elevate himself. Although he managed to defeat both Titus O’Neal and Neville, he was stopped from achieving his ultimate goal by Dean Ambrose, who defeated Kevin in the semi finals of the tournament to crown the new champion. Ambrose gave him more trouble after that loss, defeating Owens at the Tables, Ladders, and Chairs event to become Intercontinental Champion.
Not satisfied to leave his shoulder without a strap, Owens challenged Ambrose on two more occasions for the Intercontinental Championship, once on Smackdown that ended in a double count out, and again at the Royal Rumble in a Last Man Standing match that saw the lunatic fringe put Owens through two stacked tables to knock him out and retain. Thankfully for Kevin, he had another chance to walk away that night with an even bigger prize of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Despite eliminating fan favourite AJ Styles, Kevin found his past coming back to haunt him as Sami Zayn entered to Rumble match and eliminated the man who took him out in order to secure his first prize in NXT.
This is the first long period of time that Kevin Owens has been without a prize, and it is clear that old habits die hard with him. Owens has turned his attention to Dolph Ziggler, a man who he has some history with, stemming from issues Owens had with Neville while he was Intercontinental Champion. Owens is making an issue personal, but to what end game this time? Dolph doesn’t hold a championship. In fact, he hasn’t been in title contention for a title in quite some time. How does a feud with Ziggler benefit Kevin Owens? The truth of the matter is, it doesn’t. In fact, on the latest episode of Smackdown, Owens had his sights set on the United States Champion Kalisto. As a prize fighter, this made sense for him. A win against Kalisto would mean a future championship opportunity. Instead of focusing on the match, Owens decided to attack Dolph, leading to a distracted school boy roll up from the champion, and a loss for Owens.
If Owens’ history has taught us anything its that he cannot let personal matters get in the way of his championship opportunities. He made things personal with Sami Zayn and it ruined his best chance at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He tried making things personal with Dean Ambrose and it cost him the Intercontinental Championship. Now he’s making things personal with Dolph Ziggler and it has already cost him a shot at another trophy. WrestleMania season is here, meaning the biggest show of the year is just around the corner. If Kevin isn’t careful to keep his emotions in check, he might end up losing out on an even bigger prize than a championship belt, a WrestleMania paycheque.