Kevin Owens was 11 years old when he saw a tape of Wrestlemania XI featuring Shawn Michaels and Diesel. Owens says that was the day he knew he was going to be a professional wrestler. His journey took him across small promotions, wrestling in front of as few as 11 people. All the while though he dream was to become a WWE superstar and take part in Wrestlemania. Two years ago, when he was wrestling as part of an independent promotion in New Orleans, he bought a single ticket to attend Wrestlemania 30, and watched the event from the stands like just another fan. “I have to be part of this one day,” Owens remembers thinking. He would eventually get his chance. Ten months ago, Owens made his debut in the WWE and has taken the world of professional wrestling by storm with his dominant heel persona. On April 3, the wheel turns full circle for Owens as he prepares to make his maiden Wrestlemania appearance.
In an interview, the former NXT champion and current Intercontinental champion spoke of The Undertaker being his dream opponent at Wrestlemania, his opinion of AJ Style’s hairstyle and his success despite not fitting the typical mould of the WWE wrestler.
On the importance of Wrestlemania 32
I wanted to become a wrestler because I saw a tape of Wrestlemania XI. I thought to myself i wanted to be a WWE superstar one day and now here i am. One year later I’m about to take part in Wrestlemania. Its a pretty incredible feeling for sure.
My whole family is going to be there. My parents, my uncle and my aunt are going to be there. My in-laws, my wife and kids obviously are going to be coming. My sister in law and my brother in law are making the trip out as well. Everybody is very excited. No matter how much wrestling you have watched in your life, you know how big Wrestlemania and how momentous it is. My sister in law and her boyfriend aren’t die hard WWE fans but they are fans of Wrestlemania just because of how huge the event is. And now because I’m a part of it, they are driving all the way from Montreal, Canada to Texas because they want to be a part of it.
On the recent retirement of Daniel Bryan due to injury, and his twitter messages in support of the former WWE heavyweight champion
I cant say that we were close friends ever but ive known him for a very long time. When I came into the WWE, he was already a very respected guy .. a very top guy. He was obviously one of the best in the world at that point. He didn’t necessarily have to be nice because i was just kind of starting. Because a lot of the top wrestlers weren’t nice. They didn’t go out of their way to treat us nicely and Daniel Bryan did and that meant a lot to me. In every locker room in the WWE and every locker room I’ve shared with him on the independent scene I’ve always had the utmost respect for him because of the way he treated people. He was incredible in the ring. Its seems he’s going to retire but I felt the need to tell him how I felt. I put it out on twitter so everybody could see it but i also made sure to tell him privately as well how much I appreciated everything he had done for me.
On whether Bryan’s retirement remind him of the impermanence of his own career.
He isn’t really a reminder of that. Because I’ve always made sure that I appreciate that. Any time I go out there and am part of a WWE show, that always feels very special to me because it took me 20 years not just to be part of the WWE but to be part of the main event is always an incredible feeling. It isn’t lost on me and it never has been. I will be driving on the road after a show at night and it will hit me that i am a wwe superstar. and this is what i dreamed about and i get to live it. Obviously every single person would like to see Bryan come back, healthy. But the fact is that he was part of Wrestlemania 30 and even 31. Not a lot of people can say that they have experienced what he did. His career getting cut short due to injuries is a shame but he had moments people spend years dreaming of and working for. I make sure i savour every moment I get.
On whether his snarky TV and Twitter personality is close to him in real life
Television is very close to what you get in real life. I’m not as extreme in real life as i am in the ring or on television. But I am who I am. Things work for me this way. I don’t think i need to change that. How I interact with everyone on Twitter is quite close to how I am in real life.
On why his character resonates with the WWE audience
I don’t feel like i am a character. I am who I am. Owens might not be my real last name but it is as close to me as it gets. Its my sons name. Thats why I picked that name. Kevin Owens is who I am. I probably don’t go around town being as snarky as that but on the inside i am exactly that guy. In the bright lights and on the stage of RAW and Smackdown, thats kind of my platform to let it out. But what you see on TV everyday is a big part of who i am. I don’t know if thats why it connects with people because it is very genuine. Even before i came to the WWE when i was part of the independent scene, i made sure that everything i do is genuine. If the audience can tell you are genuine, they will get behind you or they will hate you. Either way they will react to you because they feel that what they are watching is reality.
I’ll be honest I don’t like that word gimmick. I think a lot of people use it and don’t really know what it means – I don’t know what it means. I never connected with people who had outlandish characters if you will, I connected with the people who stayed true to themselves, which is why I was the biggest ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin fan there was. I’m a ‘no frills’ kind of guy.
On not fitting the typical mould of a WWE wrestler
I don’t fit the typical WWE superstar mould. People always associate the WWE with very muscley guys who look like they can tear your head off and i don’t look like that. If anything that helps me stand out and I’m very proud of
I was told many times by many people that I wouldn’t make it to where I am now. But that never mattered to me because i knew that i would make it here. If someone wants to be a WWE superstar the smartest thing would be to get good training and work hard. It sounds very corny and almost something john cena would have written on his t shirt. You can’t let people tell you can’t do something. I’m living example of how that doesn’t matter.
‘Whether his rivalry against the Big Show will continue into Wrestlemania
Don’t know whether it will develop to a match at Wrestlemania but i have to say, yesterday he hit me with a punch that if you watch on TV it doesn’t look like it would do much damage but, his hand is pretty much the size of my head and he pretty much knocked me out. I watched it on video and I remember the punch specifically. It doesn’t look like much but it rocked me probably more than anything has rocked me in my matches in the last few years. His power is something you cant help but be impressed by. Im glad i got out of it with my face in one piece.
On people expecting him to defend his title at Wrestlemania against AJ Styles
I don’t think AJ is really at my level. He needs to cut his teeth in the WWE a little before he can even think of coming after somebody like me. He is still a rookie. I have been part of the WWE universe for nine or ten months now. That shows my superiority and how dominant I am. I have been intercontinental champion and I have accomplished so much more than he has. I think before he can even think of coming after me, he needs to get a decent haircut first of all then a couple of victories, get some time in the WWE and then I’ll entertain the idea of getting into the ring when I feel like it.
On what his 10-month experience in the WWE has been like
Its been a pretty crazy ride. I feel like i have accomplished. I have lived more in the last one year what most WWE superstars live over five, six or seven years or even an entire career. Ive been part of so many pay-per-views and been in the ring with John Cena and Dean Ambrose and Randy Orton and Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns and I put a quarter of a fight against all those guys. I’ve already done so much of what I dreamed to do when I started twenty years ago. But there is so much left to accomplish. I’m pretty proud of what i have done so far and I am looking forward to the next five, six ten years. However long I’m doing this for. But I am enjoying the ride.
On being part of Wrestlemania
I bought one ticket to go to Wrestlemania 30 because that’s how huge Wrestlemania is. I was already in New Orleans because I was wrestling for various independent promotions at the time and I wanted to go to Wrestlemania because it is Wrestlemania and as a fan, I could not miss it. Because although I had been wrestling for 13 years at that point I was a wrestling fan and I still am today. So I bought a ticket to go to Wrestlemania by myself because of how big an event it is in the industry and I couldn’t miss it.
And now walking into Wrestlemania as the intercontinental champion is an incredible feeling. I remember sitting in the stands in Wrestlemania 30 thinking “I have to be part of this one day.” And now a few years later I am going to be defending a title over there. There’s no way to put that into words. Its something i am quite proud of obviously.
On whether he would like to face The Undertaker at Wrestlemania
If a chance ever came to wrestle Undertaker at any point — whether it is at Wrestlemania or Raw or a live event in Texas or wherever– I would jump at the opportunity. Obviously the Undertaker is a huge name. You know how great Wrestlemania has been for him and I would love to wrestle him. I’ve said before that if i had a dream opponent for Wrestlemania of course it would be the undertaker. Just being in Wrestlemania is going to be special. But Wrestlemania is synonymous with the undertaker. Just because it doesn’t happen this year doesn’t mean it won’t happen next year, who knows? I have to play my part as best as i can. I have to be on WWE television and be a big a star as I can and hopefully things will work out my way next year and I will get into the ring with The Undertaker.
On his relationship with Vince McMahon and Triple H
I talk to Vince as much as I can. He obviously is the busiest man i know. Vince, at any time on RAW, or Smackdown or on a pay-per-view is thinking about a million things – running the show basically. I have a good relationship with him. I’m still getting to know him. I still feel like we are building a relationship. Me and Triple H are closer because of my time in NXT. He ultimately made the call to hire me and sign me on a WWE contract. Thats something i will always be grateful for. Ive got to work a lot closer with Triple H in the ring. I know him more on a personal level than I do Vince. We talk about our kids and stuff like that. They both are very different in a way but they have the same goal – of making WWE as entertaining as possible. My favourite thing on RAW, if I’m not performing is to sit in the gorilla position where Vince and Triple H work as well as Road Dogg, Billy Kidman and all these people that make the show work and just observe how people do that stuff. Because who knows where I will end up one day. It’s fascinating.
On what he would change if he was in charge of RAW
Only thing i would really change would be to keep more of a track record of wins and losses as far as title contention goes. (March 1) RAW saw Dean Ambrose come out and challenge Triple H for the world title match and Triple H said he would give it to him because Dean Ambrose got to his nerves. I personally don’t believe Dean Ambrose deserves that match at all. I understand Triple H giving it to him only because every time you are around Dean Ambrose you want to put a beating on him because that is the kind of person he is.
On his friends backstage
I get along with some people more than others in the locker room. Oddly enough the person i get along best is with Stardust. He is kind of interesting to be around. I kind of like chaos and he is a pretty chaotic guy. I get a kick out of that.
On whether he was inspired by Bret Hart growing up in Canada
I was actually a big Owen Hart fan, but I wasn’t a Bret Hart fan at all growing up. I guess what it was is that I had an older brother as a kid and I kind of felt the same way Owen did as far as his older brother went. I related to Owen almost. Now years later obviously I have a very different outlook on Bret Hart and everything he did in wrestling and how talented he was in the ring, he was one of the best wrestlers of all time and everybody knows that, but just because he was Canadian didn’t mean that I liked him. It didn’t really play a factor in it.
What he expects from Wrestlemania 32
I want to be remembered and this is my first Wrestlemania. I’ve been saying on commentary and Twitter that I want to make it KO Mania and I mean that. I want whatever I do at Wrestlemania to become the talk of the night. Everyone is going out to Wrestlemania trying to steal the show and hoping they are going to be what people are talking about at the end of the night. I want to be part of that discussion. That’s what matters to me. Whether I’m intercontinental champion or not – but I will be because nobody is going to take it from me. Whether it is in a singles match or a multi-man match I want my part because that’s what I thrive on.