There are times when WWE never ceases to amaze; whether it’s putting on a huge spectacle of a PPV that leaves audiences breathless with the high quality of talent on show, or on the opposite end of the spectrum, insisting the WWE Universe wants nothing more than to see Lana’s love life played out as the Raw ‘Main Event’ week after week. Perhaps I’m being disingenuous with that last point, but I honestly don’t know any fans who want to see more of this tepid love triangle. I get the aim is to push Rusev, but if that means having to endure the tawdry, drawn-out saga week upon week, then it’s a hard pass from me.
There are times when WWE strikes gold purely by accident; perhaps a big star gets injured and the last-minute replacement has an epic match or gets the opportunity to deliver the promo of their lives, solidifying themselves at the top of the tree (see Austin 3:16 promo and the unintentional opportunity he was given at that time in the company). I think WWE are close to striking gold again soon, and though both players in this potential feud (Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens) aren’t diamonds in the rough and genuine stars in their own right, I believe it’ll only bear fruit now due to the history both men have with the company, their current standing in the roster and their interaction and perception with the fans. Wrestling fans are a fickle bunch and a wrestler’s stock with fans is as up and down as a roller coaster, but if you strike just a right point, something special can happen.
For whatever reason, Seth Rollins’ face run hasn’t taken off like I, and many fans, would like it to have. I don’t dislike the guy, but there’s an issue that I can’t quite put my finger on that is hindering him from being THE guy for Monday Night Raw. The crowds cheer for his entrance and there’s no doubting his ability, but the connection just isn’t there. I think Roman Reigns had a similar issue when he was pushed as a top guy and the crowd reacted negatively to that quite early in his run. Perhaps they weren’t as much as the sum of their parts when they were The Shield. That ship has long sailed and served its purpose now John Moxley is doing his own thing in AEW, leaving his old persona behind. Maybe the WWE crowd loved The Shield, but aren’t all that keen on the individual members going solo.
I’ve always preferred Rollins as a heel and he can play the chickenshit coward with aplomb, but again, I believe he should be more confident in that role and if he’s going to be the bad guy, be a nasty, vindictive, horrible wrestler who may be bad, but faces his opponents head on. WWE could really do with more of those. Rollins also doesn’t play well with others. The Shield aside, his alliances never last long, always leaving him alone and fighting to climb the ladder once more. This is in stark contrast to Kevin Owens who appears to be equally comfortable with whatever role he’s given. He works well in teams, like when he was paired with Chris Jericho, he can lead others, like in NXT and is simply not afraid to stand on his own two feet and face anyone – even if it means getting his ass kicked. That’s the character of Kevin Owens.
This past Monday, I watched the interaction between Rollins and Owens that kicked off the show and there were several observations I made that want me to see these two go off against one another in a program. Owens transcends with the crowd better than Rollins and that’s no mean feat considering English isn’t his first language. Without harking back to, or comparing him with Steve Austin as I think that wouldn’t be fair, Owens has that ‘everyman’ connection that resonates with fans. Though he’s not going to be beating up his boss anytime soon (he already did that with Shane McMahon), he is positioned (in real life and in the show) as a guy who turns up for work, puts in the hours, gives the best he can give and yet is still somehow not in the spotlight. His hard work and talent going unrewarded in regards to titles.
Rollins thinks of himself as the leader of the Raw locker room. He sees himself as the face of the brand and takes personal responsibility for any failings they have. This is building nicely to his frustrations boiling over and the fans taking the full brunt of his anger. It looks as if his turn is coming, but this is WWE and we can never be sure. Just as every face needs a bad guy to go against, so must every heel have a face to suffer the frustrations and anger within them. It’s one thing to berate and chastise the fans, but to really make their point, someone must feel the repercussions and the fans must bear witness to what the heel perceives they have brought them to. Then that beaten face can start on their long road to revenge and redemption.
The story can write itself, especially if the personal aspect is taken into account. Rollins is perennially positioned as the top guy on Raw. He’s always in or near the title picture. He headlines shows. He’s been ranked top of the PWI 500 this year and he’s on the arm of one of the most popular and beautiful women in the company (Becky Lynch), so from Kevin Owens’ perspective, what has Seth Rollins got to gripe about? Owens doesn’t have the luxury of having his wife by his side when he’s touring the world, he races out of arenas in his ring gear to go home and spend precious time with his family – again, something a lot of fans can relate to. Owens has to switch between brands to get on the card. He aligned himself with his NXT brethren last month and almost blew the roof off the arena. If he’s getting those reactions, why should he not be where Seth Rollins stands?
WWE has a lot of options with this feud. They can continue on pushing Seth as a good guy and have Owens be the heel, but I think the reversals of their traditional roles will play well. The crowd will pop bigger for Owens. Owens can carry the feud verbally and just have Rollins react. Right now it doesn’t need a title, but should Brock Lesnar be dethroned or need some fresh meat to be thrown at him, a wily, sneaky, hard-hitting, popular and fired-up Kevin Owens would be a great choice.
Owens should be the star of Monday Night Raw. He should be one of the biggest stars in WWE, and if that means having to dislodge Seth Rollins to get there, perhaps that could or should be the way forward.