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Kevin Owens on WWE King of the Ring, why he’s not the next ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin

first_imgKing of the Ring debuted in 1985 and was a staple of the 90’s before being used sporadically after 2006. It has always been used to help launch someone to bigger stardom in the WWE with past winners including Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearOne person excited to be a part of the field in this year’s King of the Ring is Kevin Owens who has plenty of fond memories watching the tournament while growing up in Quebec, Canada.Owens has been embroiled in a rivalry with Shane McMahon over the past few months during a period that has seen him turn from heel to fan favorite. It’s a welcome change for Owens who is happy to be back in the thick of things after missing five months earlier this year recovering from knee surgery. Sporting News recently spoke with KO about being a part of the KOTR and his memories of it growing up, his shift in character, and recent comparisons to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.SummerSlam recently took place and you faced Shane McMahon. What was it like being on that big event in your home country of Canada?KEVIN OWENS: It was great. I thought it was great because SummerSlam, obviously, is one of our big shows of the year, especially with me missing WrestleMania. And SummerSlam being in Toronto, it meant even more to have a big role in the show.You and Shane have developed quite the rivalry over the past few months. Do you think this would have ended by now and are you surprised it’s continuing?KO: I kind of expected it to keep going just because Shane, he’s obviously not going anywhere because of who he is. I’m not surprised that we’re going to keep going. I feel like there’s still avenues to go. There’s still stuff we can do together, so we’ll see what happens.For the longest time, fans were used to seeing you as a heel, but now you’re the guy that people are rooting for — especially against Shane McMahon. What’s it like being in that different role?KO: It feels good just because it’s different. I was doing the same thing for a long time and it was great, but change is always good, I think. And trying to keep things different and interesting in wrestling is pretty important. I’m just glad to be doing something that feels different and is more stimulating for me and I think the fans, the audience, is reacting very well to it so we’re doing something right and hopefully it keeps going that way.You mentioned missing WrestleMania and before then, you were sidelined while recovering from knee surgery. You never want to miss that time of year, but how much did you need that time off to not only get better physically but to recharge the batteries mentally?KO: Yeah, it was as important for my mental state as it was for my body, for sure. I had been going nonstop for four years at that time and I think everybody needed it. Me, my family, everyone. Obviously, my knees needed it, but I think it’s also good for the show sometimes.Look at Bray Wyatt as an example. He went away for a long time, not because he was injured, but just because it was time for a reset and while he was away, he put a lot of thought into the new thing he’s doing and people seem to be enjoying it. It’s hard for us as performers to step away from the ring but we come back better than we were when we left. It’s good for the audience to miss us a little too. It’s good for the show with fresher elements when we come back. There’s always a silver lining.When you have to take a break like you did, do you unplug yourself from WWE or do you stay engaged and watch the shows each week?KO: I can’t. I can’t unplug completely. I definitely have to stay on top of what’s happening and watch. I don’t know if it’s just to have knowledge of what’s going on or if it’s … I’ve never, in my life since I was 11 years old, went more than a day or two without watching wrestling. That’s just how I am. That’s probably a bit of it too, but it’s also trying to stay in the game even if you’re not around. Just trying to keep your mind where it needs to be. Some people might have a different answer. Some people might unplug completely, but I personally can’t really do that.WWE is bringing back the King of the Ring and you are one of the people in the field. What are some of your fondest memories of the tournament growing up?KO: I was always a huge fan of the King of the Ring tournament just because that concept is really interesting to me, especially when it was a one-night tournament. I just felt that was great. Tournaments themselves, I’m always interested in them and the King of the Ring was the best one for me.Obviously, all the winners and how many tournaments I was able to watch as a fan and all the guys that won it, most of them went on to become big deals in WWE whether it was Steve Austin or Kurt Angle or Triple H or Owen Hart, Bret (Hart), all those guys.I’m really excited to be in it. I’m excited that it’s back. In a way, it’s kind of cool because I remember when I was on the independent scene and I’d get to the Battle of Los Angeles in PWG (Pro Wrestling Guerrilla), that was like our own little version of King of the Ring, for me. Now I get to be in the actual thing, in the real King of the Ring tournament, so that’s pretty great. It’s like my first Royal Rumble match. Those are things I grew up watching and now I get to be a part of it. It’s thrilling.All hail the great KINGS of the past. #KingOfTheRing pic.twitter.com/CBxLJYXI4U— WWE (@WWE) August 18, 2019So many fans remember that moment when “Stone Cold” won the King of the Ring and afterwards did the infamous “3:16” promo. How did that moment influence you?KO: As far as Steve himself is concerned when I was a fan, obviously that’s when he took off and people took notice of Steve Austin in WWE. I was actually a huge fan of his before that. I didn’t follow him in WCW or anything before he came to WWE, but when he made his debut as “The Ringmaster” — and it’s funny because Steve himself has said “The Ringmaster” character was terrible — I was sold from the get-go for some reason.I guess, at the time it was almost a contrast of “The Ringmaster” Steve Austin compared to everyone else. He was brought in by Ted DiBiase, but here’s this guy just in plain colored trunks which, he was notable for the black trunks later on, but when he started he had either blue trunks or green trunks and white boots or black boots, but it was very straightforward.There was no pageantry, no big robe, nothing and at the time I felt that made him so much different than everyone else that had elaborate costumes, elaborate characters and all that stuff. Here was this guy that was pretty straightforward and that drew me to him right away. So, I was a fan of his right from the get-go and then when he wins King of the Ring, I was already on board. Then everybody took notice, but I was already sold on him.Seeing moments like that and then what they become in history because that’s literally a moment that has been replayed, him winning and then the promo after, everybody knows about it now. It’s such an important moment in WWE’s history and the potential of maybe being a part of something like that because the King of the Ring tournament, it’s always great to have an opportunity like that to possibly do something that will be remembered for years to come.So, you weren’t watching him when he was “Stunning” Steve Austin in WCW?KO: I wasn’t watching him back then. I had no idea. I was a WWF fan, not a WCW fan. I never watched WCW when I was a kid, so my first exposure to Steve Austin was “The Ringmaster,” which is funny because like I said, a lot of people, even Steve himself will say ‘Oh, The Ringmaster was brutal, it was a bad way to come in, it wasn’t a good spot, it wasn’t a good character.’ But I liked it right away. I was drawn to him. I like his matches and I liked that he was different from everyone else because of how simple that character was. When “Austin 3:16” hit, he exploded, but I was already sold on him. You’ve been using the Stone Cold Stunner lately in your matches. How would you assess your Stunner?KO: You know, it’s actually, I don’t know how to describe it. Obviously, it’s big shoes to fill, right? Not that I’m trying to be in Steve’s shoes, but when you’re doing a move that’s been so iconic for so long, it’s hitting right and it’s working well.The crowd reaction is always really cool to it. It’s nice to almost be able to bring it back just because I remember how it used to make me feel when he’d hit it and how exciting it was visually and all that stuff. I’m just trying to do right by it, I guess.So many people want to compare you with Steve in a variety of ways. I’m sure that’s flattering, but how do you balance that when it comes to using a move like that, but at the same time, not trying to be the next Steve Austin?KO: It’s flattering, yes and no. It’s flattering when I see people that are kind enough to make that comparison, but I obviously would never compare myself to him because he’s the biggest superstar of all time and I am not and I don’t think I ever will be. I would never be arrogant enough to pretend like I’m worthy of that comparison. I’m just a guy who loved “Stone Cold” and needed a new finishing move at one point and I asked Steve if I could use it and he said yes. He was happy to say so. He said ‘Please do, no problem.’ Now, I’m lucky enough to be able to use it and I reap the benefit of that. It’s a great finishing move that you can hit on everybody. I lucked out because I was the first one who thought of asking the master if I could use it and he said yes and now I get to do it. I’m not trying to be the next “Stone Cold.” Nobody is ever going to be the next “Stone Cold.”There will only be one “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. I stay on top of what people think. I read mostly positive reactions to me using the Stunner, but there’s still some people who say ‘That’s Stone Cold move, how dare he use it’ and all this stuff. For those people I say, I’m well aware of whose move it is and I’m never going to claim that it’s mine.That’s why I still call it the Stunner. I’m never going to try and change the name or anything like that. I’m just somebody who grew up a huge wrestling fan and now I’m lucky enough to be using the most iconic finisher of all time. And I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. All hail the king.After a four-year hiatus, WWE is bringing back the King of the Ring tournament. The field is made up of 16 superstars from “RAW” and “SmackDown Live” with the first round beginning Monday night on “RAW” (airing on the USA Network at 8 p.m. ET) and playing out over the coming weeks, with the finals taking place on Sept. 15 at Clash of the Champions.last_img

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