In the first of our star’s to watch section, we take a look into the past experiences of the man who has taken NXT by storm. A man who has been in the wrestling business for over a decade. He is the recently crowned NXT champion. He is Kevin Owens.
Born in Quebec, Canada as Kevin Steen, the now thirty year old Owens started off his wrestling career working within the depths of the independent scene under his birth name, with companies such as Combat Zone and Pro Wrestling Guerrila. It was in 2007 that Owens made his first major strides forward in the industry, signing for prominent indie company Ring of Honor (ROH). Upon signing with the company, he was immediately put into a pairing with fellow rising star El Generico, better known to fans now as WWE’s Sami Zayn. As a face tag team, they would team together for over 2 years. This was up until the ROH PPV Final Battle, which took place on December 19th, 2009. It was at this event that Owens shocked the fan base by turning on Generico, leading to a year long feud between the two, climaxing in an unsanctioned fight exactly one year later, with Generico’s mask up for grabs against Steens career. The feud between the two earned rave reviews from numerous wrestling critics, winning feud of the year from various wrestling magazines.
As a result of losing to Generico, Steen was forced to leave the company in storyline. In reality, he was told to stay away for a few months whilst writers came up with a story for his return. At this time, Steen made a great effort to get himself into better shape, losing 40lb for his in ring return. Unfortunately for Steen, his scheduled time for return coincided with a change in the companies management. New man in charge, Jim Cornette would then tell Steen to wait a further six months. This caused a great amount of frustration for Steen. He took to eating a lot, gaining his weight up to 291lb, and let his contract with ROH run down, before eventually resigned a few months later.
Upon his return, Steen would be given an invader style gimmick, showing up unannounced at events to attack a number of wrestlers, like Steve Corino. The intentions of management were to make Steen look like a heel, but his appearances were so popular, that he received great pops from the live crowds. Fans continued to rejoice as Steen made a stance in gaining his place back on the ROH roster, which he did by defeating Corino at Final Battle 11. A few months later, he would reach the summit of the company, winning his first, and only, ROH world title against current TNA superstar Davey Richards, a title which he would proudly hold for nearly a year. He would continue to put on great matches after losing the belt, teaming and feuding with the top stable S.C.U.M. before departing for WWE in 2014.
Under the name Kevin Owens, Steen has made himself much more well-known over the last six months at NXT. Debuting at Takeover: R Evolution, he would show a more group of fans his amazing combination of strength, speed and agility, as well as his impressive pop up powerbomb finisher and his sheer grit and determination after breaking his nose during the match. He made a bigger impact later in the night, attacking former friend and enemy Zayn just after he won the NXT title, reigniting their great feud from years earlier. Just a few months later in just his second, he would take the same title from Zayn in a brutal showing at Takeover: Rival.
Known more to the hardcore indie fans as the Anti Christ of Wrestling and Wrestling’s worst nightmare, Owens continues to earn rave reviews from those within WWE, so much so that many believe that a main roster call up is imminent. By the time Wrestlemania 32 comes along, don’t be surprised to see Kevin Owens involved in a show stealing encounter.