Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, I like to ponder curious things that nobody else in the world seems to be concerned with. The other night as I was driving home from TLC, which I saw live in Boston, I pondered: “What on God’s green earth is WWE doing with Kevin Owens?”
Anyone have the answer to that question? I sure as hell know I don’t. With all of the hype that was surrounding the debut of Owens down in NXT when he made his debut at TakeOver: R-Evolution almost one year ago to the date of TLC, and with the way he was portrayed not only down in NXT as the NXT Champion, but how he was portrayed upon his call-up to the main roster — it’s baffling to see what’s become of him. The best example I have of that is examining the match he had versus Dean Ambrose at TLC, and comparing that with my personal favorite match of Owens’ WWE tenure thus far: Elimination Chamber 2015 versus John Cena.
One of the things that many people have accused Owens of lately is being a generally “lazy worker”. I would argue that this isn’t true, by any stretch of imagination. The simple fact of the matter is that this goes back to the general booking and portrayal philosophies that WWE still holds on even though it’s entirely outdated. If you’re a babyface, you need to do everything in your power to get a positive reaction from the crowd. What if you’re a heel, however? Why should any heel be doing anything interesting or insane with their move set? After all, if you ask Vincent Kennedy McMahon, we as fans shouldn’t be determining who we like, WWE should. The problem with an outdated philosophy such as that is that it handicaps the amazing talent that WWE currently has not only on the main roster but in NXT as well. NXT seems to be safe from these out-dated ideals, though, thanks in part to the open minded strategies of one Triple H.
As we’ve seen with Kevin Owens, however, the main roster is still very much a shell of the old ideology that defined the Attitude Era and the early 2000’s for WWE. If (this is the largest if I will ever put into a sentence, because this is WWE after all) Kevin Owens was allowed to fully utilize the move-set that he’s so masterful at, as he showed at not only at Elimination Chamber but at Money In The Bank versus John Cena, the crowd would absolutely enjoy any and all of his matches. Regardless of whether he’s a heel or face, you would think WWE would want that as they’re currently hurting for star power and NEED someone to draw in attention. Again, we go back to square one with old ideology that damages the ability for Kevin Owens to be properly utilized.
If you recall, for a moment, anything about that match that Owens first had with Cena, you’ll notice that he used plenty of moves that I’ll be damned if he’s used since, mostly notably a moonsault. Tell me, how many people do you know on the active WWE roster who are over the 250 pound weight mark and can still do a moonsault just as well as….say Kalisto? I’ll wait for a response, because I already know what the response is: nobody. Owens is also incredibly agile and pulls off moves that no man his size should be doing. Why would you not want to push somebody who defies every single stereotype about a person with his build?
As it stands currently, WWE has a Kevin Owens crisis on their hands. One of the most incredible talents they’ve had in a while went from being a monster heel who made every match he had must-see television to wallowing around in the mid-card, losing his title to a far less interesting worker in Dean Ambrose, and having no real sense of direction from there. What’s next for Big Kev? It’s hard to say. I would like to see him and Cena have a memorable exchange in the Royal Rumble and start to build something off of that, because Owens needs something to push him back to where he was, but I also have very little faith in WWE to realize that.
The answer to WWE’s problem is clear: Let Kevin Owens be Kevin Owens. Drop stereotypes of body images, and more importantly drop stereotypes of being a babyface or heel. Only then will they be able to capitalize on the amazing talent they house. Until then, WWE may continue to suffer in terms of ratings. Eventually, Vince McMahon is going to need to wake up and smell the coffee that’s been brewing the past five years.