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Canton’s Corner: The Wrestling Future Of Kevin Owens

There was a big story breaking last night about how the WWE contract of superstar Kevin Owens is set to expire in January 2022. It’s only four months away. Apparently WWE is very aware the deal is coming up, so it’s not like it has snuck up on them. What we don’t know is if WWE has offered him a long-term deal to stay and if it’s a raise over what he’s making now.

I have to admit when I first saw the report a bit surprised because I remember Owens saying in 2018 that he signed a five-year deal to stay in WWE, which meant he would be there until 2023 at some point. However, Fightful’s report also noted that for some reason, WWE decided to shorten his contract during the pandemic. I don’t know why they would, but I also have a tough time understanding some of the releases they have done in the last two years.

I think Kevin Owens is an outstanding professional wrestler who has a lot of experience at his craft. When he was a heel he was one of my favorites in WWE and while I still like him as a face, I think he’s clearly better as a heel. Even though he’s not a “body guy” that is going to make anybody jealous with how he looks, I think his rugged look works for him and he has credibility as a guy that just keeps on fighting for what he believes him. Most importantly, I think Owens has earned the respect of WWE fans.

The purpose of this blog today is to cover the possibilities of Owens possibly leaving WWE to join some of his best friends in AEW or staying in WWE, which is where he has worked since debuting in NXT in 2015.

Three Reasons to Join AEW

Let me begin this part by saying that if Owens goes to AEW, he’ll go back to using his real name Kevin Steen that he used in Ring of Honor and the indies. I’ll still refer to him as Owens since that’s his wrestling name right now.

1. Some of his best friends work in AEW

The above tweet and delete from Owens last night. He tweeted the coordinates of Mount Rushmore, which is a name that he has used in the past for his group with Adam Cole and The Young Bucks when they were in ROH together. Owens deleted the tweet, but enough fans saw it to put it together, to get it gain some traction on social media and make it onto wrestling websites like this one. In other words, Owens knew exactly what he was doing by doing that tweet-delete move.

It is pretty obvious that AEW would obviously want the 37-year-old Owens if he was a free agent. Since the Young Bucks are Executive Vice Presidents in AEW, there’s probably been some kind of interaction even though “legally” Owens is under contract to WWE still. If you don’t think wrestlers regularly text their buddies in other wrestling companies to ask about the situation then you are foolish.

When you’ve got the Young Bucks there as executives, Adam Cole coming in on fire this past Sunday at All Out, plus all of the ex-WWE guys that Owens has been in the ring with like Chris Jericho, Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Pac, Andrade El Idolo, Miro and so on, I’m sure KO would really enjoy himself hanging out with his friends in AEW. Plus, he is also close friends with the 2.0 tag team, who came from the same Montreal area that Owens came from earlier in his career.

In WWE, it’s enjoyable for a lot of reasons, but you also have a dialogue to memorize, plans can change at a whim and you have no control over that. In AEW, most of their talent has freedom to do whatever kind of promo they want and I’m sure that appeals to Owens, who is a great talker.

 

2. Easier schedule along with opportunities in other promotions

I think this is an important point because Owens is a family man. Owens often speaks about how the most important thing to him is his family. Owens is married with a son and daughter. Plus, look at all the cats they have in their house! They need attention too.

During the “Pandemic Era” of WWE he got to see them often because shows were in Florida where he lives and there was no touring. Now that WWE is back on the road again, Owens may be gone from home 3-4 times per week about two or three times per month.

If he were to sign with AEW, he would be on the road a lot less. They don’t have live events like WWE does. They have a live Dynamite every Wednesday, they might have a live Rampage two or three times a month, but then you’re really only away from home maybe 5-10 days per month instead of 15-20 days per month.

Owens has spoken highly of his experience at PWG shows in the past. What if he would want to work there again? AEW might let him. WWE would not. Maybe he wants to go wrestle some matches in New Japan Pro Wrestling like Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley have done. I think that’s something that Bryan Danielson might get to do too, so if Owens wants to wrestle some top NJPW guys, going to AEW will give him that opportunity.

I think the easier schedule would definitely appeal to a family man that has been in pro wrestling for nearly 20 years.

 

3. Stop and start pushes in WWE may be frustrating

If you think about the six years of KO’s WWE career, there have some highs and lows. I can think of highs like feuding with John Cena upon his arrival to the main roster in 2015 and winning the Universal Title in August 2016, which made him a top heel on the Raw brand. When I think back to that period, I remember his friendship with Chris Jericho leading to a rivalry that led to their WrestleMania 33 match in 2017. Jericho has said in the past that he was so mad that the Universal Title got taken out of their feud (so Goldberg could drop it to Brock Lesnar) and their WM match went on second on that show, that it led to Jericho wanting to leave WWE after 18 years there. It probably pissed off Owens too, but it’s not like he would say it while under WWE contract.

Over those last six years, Owens got pushed a good amount as a heel that got to feud with the likes of AJ Styles, Shane McMahon (with an infamous headbutt on Vince too), Roman Reigns and others. When he turned face, it was a different side of him, but I enjoyed his 2020 feud with Seth Rollins, the Universal Title feud as a challenger to Roman Reigns and of course the many matches he had with best friend (on screen rival) Sami Zayn.

When I look back on it as a big picture, what stands out is the inconsistency of his pushes. Yes, Owens is regularly on TV most weeks, but sometimes he gets left off major shows like how he wasn’t a part of SummerSlam a few weeks ago. That kind of thing is going to bother a guy like him even though he won’t say it publicly.

I just think due to all of the inconsistency during his WWE run, he may see AEW as another option for new feuds and new opportunities where he may be less frustrated about how he’s being used.

 

Three Reasons to Stay in WWE

1. A new contract could mean a significant raise and the biggest push of his career

This is a bit of assuming on my part, but that’s okay. My feeling is that if he stays with WWE, they’re going to give him a raise on his downside and maybe lighten his schedule so he can have some weekends off to be with family. In addition to that, I would expect WWE to want to push him regularly because if you sign somebody to a new deal, it makes sense that you would want to push them soon after. That makes logical sense, right? I think so.

While I doubt WWE would “promise” somebody a WWE Title or Universal Title run, I think they would be inclined enough to say that Owens would get more opportunities than he has ever had before.

Two examples of wrestlers being pushed after signing new deals this year are Cesaro and Riddle. In Cesaro’s case, he beat Seth Rollins in a singles match at WrestleMania and then main evented WrestleMania Backlash, albeit in a losing effort against Roman Reigns. Sadly, Cesaro hasn’t been featured as much in the last few months, so I hope that changes soon. As for Riddle, he had a US Title now and is now one of the most featured acts on Raw as a Tag Team Champion with Randy Orton in the RK-Bro team.

Owens has the leverage here. He can ask for more money and he should ask for more money. He deserves it based on his work. Plus, WWE certainly has the money to pay him.

 

2. Loyalty to the company that made you a household name

Kevin Owens has been a pretty big name in pro wrestling in the six years he has been on the WWE main roster. With all due respect to Ring of Honor, a lot of people didn’t watch or know that Kevin Steen that well. In WWE, we have seen him go from conniving heel that would do anything to win to being the doting dad that fans like because he looks like a regular guy that can do some incredible things in a wrestling ring.

I realize that some fans might dismiss loyalty in pro wrestling because they might think it’s all about going where you’ll get used better. However, I think a guy like Owens is loyal, he is honorable and he might be inclined to stay with WWE long-term because they’re the company that gave him his big great. They are the company that paid him so well he could afford a big house and take care of his family.

Some people in pro wrestling want to finish where they got their big break. I don’t know if Owens is one of those guys, but if he is then that’s a reason to stay in WWE.

 

3. There are still goals in WWE that he may want to accomplish

As I noted earlier, Owens is 37 years old right now. One of the options that he could consider is to sign a short-term deal to stay in WWE. Let’s say, for example, that he signs a two-year deal kind of as a “prove it” thing where tells WWE officials that he’ll stay two more years, but he wants to be featured more than he is and he wants to have a true run as one of their top champions. Yes, Owens won the Universal Championship as mentioned, but the WWE Championship is more prestigious in a lot of ways due to its 50+ year history instead of just five years for the Universal Championship. Obviously, with Roman Reigns as the Universal Champion it means more right now, but really it’s all just based on what title is pushed harder than the other one.

The point I’m trying to make is this. If Owens has the goal of being a WWE Champion then there’s only one company he can do that in. If Owens has a goal of headlining a WrestleMania or maybe being one of the top two or three matches at a WrestleMania then there’s only one wrestling company where he can do that.

How about Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn for the WWE Championship? Probably won’t happen, but you never know.

 

Final Thoughts

I don’t know what Kevin Owens is going to do. I don’t know the man personally. With Adam Cole, I thought he was going to AEW because his girlfriend Britt Baker is there and his friendship with the top guys in the company. Plus, WWE is reluctant to push a 200-pound wrestler like him. In KO’s case, I think that the same friendship with top guys is going be a big factor if (a big if) he decides to go to AEW next year. However, I also think KO’s six-year run on the main roster helps a lot in terms of a guy that Vince McMahon likes and wants to continue to feature moving forward.

My hunch (and that’s all it is right now) is that Owens may follow Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole to AEW. I think a lot of wrestlers see AEW as a place with a lot of momentum, where they will have more freedom than they have in WWE and it would be a different challenge to see if he can reach the top of that company. Plus, there are plenty of “dream matches” in AEW including a matchup with guys like CM Punk or Kenny Omega to name two.

I wish Kevin Owens the best with whatever is next in his career. The WWE fan in me wants him to stay where he is while hoping WWE uses him better, but then I wonder if he would be better in AEW. Either way, I’ll watch and continue to support just like I hope any wrestling fan would.

Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.

John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport