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Oct 21, 2015

Talk Owens Talk

Interview with WWE IC Champ Kevin Owens

With WWE SmackDown returning to Talking Stick Resort Arena on Tuesday, our resident wrestling expert, VP of Digital Jeramie McPeek, interviewed the Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens about his career, his son and his dream opponent for WrestleMania 32.

TSRarena: You said on RAW this past Monday night that you think Texas sucks during your match with Mark Henry. What do you think about Arizona?

Owens: I’ve only been there once. From what I could tell, it’s pretty good. I didn’t get to see much, but I did enjoy my time there, so hopefully it’ll leave me with better memories than Texas has so far (laughs).

TSRarena: Were you here wrestling on the independent scene at the time?

Owens: Yeah, a few years ago for Ring of Honor, I did a couple of shows there when WrestleMania was in Arizona and they piggybacked off of their crowd, as they do every year. So I wrestled there a few years ago.

TSRarena: Did you go to WrestleMania XXVI while you were here?

Owens: I did not, no. I was in every WrestleMania town for years, and I would wrestle there the day before and I would always make it a point of flying home to watch WrestleMania with my wife and son. I always had this mentality that the next WrestleMania I would go to is because WWE took me there. I ended up breaking that rule for WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, because at that point I was already talking to WWE about possibly coming here, so “that’s close enough.” I wanted to see Daniel Bryan in the main event, but now a year later, for WrestleMania 31, I was actually being brought by the company (as NXT Champion).

TSRarena: Growing up a WWE fan, how much fun as this last year been for you?

Owens: The last year’s been pretty crazy. I mean, everything I’ve wanted the last 15 years has happened in the past 6 months. In terms of getting signed by WWE and then getting to wrestle in their, what they used to call developmental territory, but now it’s NXT. Tt’s hard to call it developmental anymore with all the attention it gets and all the buzz it’s creating. Then being called up to the main roster and being part of RAW and SmackDown and the pay-per-views… it took me a while to get here and once I got here everything went so fast, it’s been a pretty crazy ride.

TSRarena: Sounds like quite the whirlwind.

Owens: Sure, I mean I enjoy every second. You gotta try to take a break once in a while and take a step back and make sure you realize everything that’s happening. I remember one of my good friends Cary Silkin, who used to own Ring of Honor and who was a big part of me getting as far as I did in wrestling... he texted me the afternoon of the Madison Square Garden show I did a few weeks ago and made sure to tell me that when I come out on that stage to “take a second and look around and realize where you are because this is Madison Square Garden. This is a big deal.” I already knew that, but him putting it that way really put things in perspective. It’s true of the last six months really, from winning the Intercontinental Title to wrestling in Madison Square Garden against Chris Jericho or wrestling John Cena on pay-per-view, even wrestling in the Bell Centre in Montreal, which is my home in front of my family, it’s all been very special.

TSRarena: I saw the video of your son when you accepted Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge and have seen the pictures of him holding your Intercontinental Title belt. What’s it been like for him to see his dad make it to WWE and be wrestling all these guys he has been watching on TV?

Owens: He’s pretty proud, ya know, and that’s literally my main motivation. Obviously, making a living and taking care of my family is a big thing for me, but ya know, two things that really were always very important to me was… my parents always supported me in this endeavor. From the moment I told them I wanted to be a wrestler when I was a kid they never tried to discourage me. They pushed me to make it happen and I really wanted to make it for them, so they could see that all the support they’ve given me really made this happen. And then for my son to be proud of me. Those were my two main motivations… so he’s really been enjoying it, and so has my wife and my friends. They’re all very supportive, so I think they’re all enjoying the ride with me.

TSRarena: Your in-ring promos about your son cheering for Cena, while you were working hard down in the Indies, were gold.

Owens: Yeah, I mean it’s all true. He’s a big John Cena fan, so it kinda worked. It fell into my lap, so I got to use it on TV. Why not?

TSRarena: Who was he cheering for in those matches?

Owens: I think he was pretty split honestly. He’s always been a big John Cena fan, but all of a sudden he’s against his dad. I think he kinda feels like he can’t cheer against me, but at the same time he wants me to do good, so I think it was pretty split down the middle. Maybe a bit conflicted, but he’s met John and he and John know each other, and they have this little thing they share together. It’s been really cool to see him experience all these things. He gets to go backstage at the shows when I take him and he knows all the wrestlers, and all the wrestlers know him. To him it’s, ya know, “Oh hey, Mark Henry.” But to me, when I was 12, 13-years-old, watching these guys, to have the chance to see them outside of the ring, even encountering them on the street or in a way like that would have blown my mind. But he’s kind of already used to it, which I get a kick out of. He’s like, it’s all part of life now.

TSRarena: Tell me about winning the Intercontinental Title. That was always one of my favorites growing up, watching Savage and Steamboat and HBK and Stone Cold, The Rock…

Owens: Yeah, everybody really resonates that feeling. When I was a kid, that was the title that I wanted to win, because Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart and Bret (Hart) and Razor (Ramon), all those guys won that title and some of them eventually made it and won the WWE title. But the Intercontinental Title, there’s just something special about that title and also, to me, it’s the coolest looking one.

The cool part about the title I’m holding now is it’s the same design as the title I grew up watching. When I was a kid and I had all the foam replica belts, this was always the one I’d win first when I’d beat my pillow, so it’s pretty cool to have the real thing. And my son gets to play with the actual thing instead of the toy replica like I used to. So it’s another cool little thing that I get to share with him.

TSRarena: No knock on any of the guys that have held it in recent years but it hasn’t necessarily received the attention it once did. Are you looking forward to trying to elevate the IC Title?

Owens: Like you said, no knock on anybody that’s held it, but I feel like it’s maybe been seen as a less important title over the last few years. I feel like when Daniel Bryan won it (at WrestleMania 31), a lot of people felt like, “Now this is gonna restore some value or importance to it,” but then he got injured.

I think that Ryback tried to do everything he could to make that title mean as much as he could and I know personally that title meant a lot to him. It means a lot to me, too, and I think fans are excited to see it get more attention and maybe move up the ladder of titles if you will and get some importance behind it again. If I can be the guy to bring that to it, then great.

TSRarena: Do you enjoy actually wrestling, or cutting promos more? Because it looks like you’re having a blast doing both.

Owens: I really can’t say honestly. I enjoy both. I really enjoy every aspect of this. The hardest part is being away from my family honestly but that just comes with the job and is part of the sacrifice we have to make, me and my family because it’s not easy on them either. Thankfully I have a wonderful wife that takes care of the kids while I’m not there and she’s an amazing Mom and fills the void when I’m not there. I wouldn’t be able to do this without her... But as far as the actual in-ring stuff in matches or stuff outside of the ring with the promos and the microphone or even doing little interviews like this, I just really enjoy every aspect of it. Like I said, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, so I embrace every part of it.

TSRarena: Who were some of your favorite heels on the mic? I know Shawn Michaels was your all-time favorite wrestler, and he’s mine as well. Was he a guy that you looked at for that?

Owens: I actually always thought Shawn Michaels was really underrated, as far as mic time. I always thought he was fantastic, whether it was as a heel or a face. Even (Monday) night on RAW… his interaction with Seth Rollins was just incredible to me and by the time it was done and he said “hit my music,” the music hit, and there’s nobody like him to me. He’s incredible and has such a good time in the ring. That’s why I try to take something away from everybody I speak to. Shawn, the interaction I’ve had with him, he’s given me advice on my matches and given me advice on how to live on the road and make the best of everything, but to me the biggest lesson he taught me wasn’t even on purpose, but was just to have fun. That’s the most important thing because that’s why I’m here.

But Shawn Michaels is one of the best (on the mic) and Steve Austin, as well, The Rock… they’re really obvious answers, those guys are just incredible. But there’s somebody actually I’ve always looked up to, a bit of a more obscure reference. The fans of ECW will remember Steve Corino... He’s kind of been my mentor for a lot of years, I used to watch him in ECW and I thought he was one of the best on the microphone, as well. He’s a commentator for another wrestling company now and he’s still great at talking. But those four guys I’d say have really influenced me and what I am today.

TSRarena: I got a chance to interview Shawn last Spring about his new book and that was a real thrill, but I’ve got to admit I popped Monday night in the living room watching him in the ring with Seth.

Owens: It was my favorite thing on the show, because No. 1) how much fun Shawn was having on the show, No. 2) because Seth Rollins, I feel lately, has really been stepping it up on the mic and has been coming into his own. So having them in the ring was pretty special only for the fact that I’m good friends with Seth Rollins and I know how big of a Shawn Michaels fan he was. So I know how cool that moment must have been for him being in the ring with Shawn Michaels. That’s something that doesn’t happen every day.

TSRarena: My son and I have a podcast where we talk wrestling. Of course he’s in school today, but he wanted me to ask you if there was anybody in WWE today who you haven’t had a chance to wrestle yet that you really want to, or if you have an opponent at WrestleMania in mind, if it was up to you?

Owens: So I’ve answered this question a couple times and my answer is always Brock Lesnar, because I’d just love to be in ring with him and see what it’s like. There’s nobody quite like Brock Lesnar, as far as pure strength and viciousness and everything. I’d love to see if I could hang with him and see how much could I hurt him. After watching the last few months, the more he comes around the more I feel the energy in the building when he’s there.

I’d love to get in the ring with the Undertaker one day, too. I feel like that’s a longshot, I guess, because he wrestles on a limited basis and when he does it’s always a huge deal. But hopefully I can position myself in the next year or so to be seen as a viable opponent for the Undertaker, because it would be a thrill to be in the ring with him at WrestleMania or anywhere. It can be on a RAW or a live event, I don’t really care, I’d just love to be in the ring with him. I feel like that would be an experience I’d never forget.

TSRarena: The match would be amazing, too, no question. Last thing before we let you go, tell us why Phoenix fans should buy tickets for SmackDown on Tuesday and come out and see it in person.

Owens: Well, I’m gonna be there, so that’s obviously the main reason. It’s the only reason they need really. But WWE puts on a show like no one else and it’s always a great time. I can’t tell you the number of shows I’ve been to as a fan growing up, or just a few years ago. Anytime I’d have the chance to go to a live event in Montreal, or if I was wrestling in Pittsburgh and the next day was the Royal Rumble, stuff like that, I would always go because I’ve always been a fan. I’ve never not had a great time at a WWE show and SmackDown will be no exception. 

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