Welcome to 'The Era of Owens'
Kevin Owens’ victory at NXT Takeover: Rival earned him a distinction that no other NXT Superstar can claim: Owens captured the NXT Championship just two months after his debut, earning him the record-setting accomplishment of the fastest ascent to champion in NXT history.
This week, Owens talks about his road to WWE NXT, his friendship with Sami Zayn and why he will fight anyone as he embarks on life atop the NXT mountain.
WWE.COM: Kevin, you've done what no other competitor has been able to do and that's step foot into NXT and win the NXT Championship within a two-month time span. How does that make you feel?
KEVIN OWENS: Well, obviously it makes me feel great. There's always a special feeling that goes along with winning a title but when winning that title is coupled with doing it in such a short amount of time, and with so much buzz around it, it makes it even better. I'm proud. Very proud.
WWE.COM: When did you first decide this was what you wanted to do with your life?
OWENS: My dad rented a tape of WrestleMania XI when I was 11 years old and I decided to watch it with him. As soon as I saw the first match, I was hooked. And by the time I saw Shawn Michaels compete, I knew this is what I had to do with my life. I started pestering my folks about training, but obviously they weren't going to let me do that at such a young age. But, they encouraged me to pursue it. They bought every pay-per-view for me. They took me to every WWE event that came to Montreal. They could see how passionate I was from the start.
WWE.COM: How did your training come about?
OWENS: When I was 14, my mother got in contact with a local wrestler by the name of Serge Jodoin who agreed to train me. I started in an old barn in the middle of a field near where I lived. That only lasted about a month, but it was good. Serge was a good man, a solid wrestler, and he taught me whatever he had the time to teach me very well.
That school closed down and I eventually signed up for another school in Montreal about a year later and resumed training. I had my first match on my 16th birthday in L'Assomption, which is a small town outside of Montreal.
WWE.COM: You’ve faced a lot of adversity to get here. Talk about some of the criticism that’s been thrown your way.
OWENS: I guess it was the exact kind of criticism you would expect for someone like me trying to make it in an industry where aesthetic appearance is so important. I've been told I wasn't in good enough shape and that I looked too bland. I also had people tell me I was too hard-headed and didn't play by the "rules" enough. All I can say about that is I am who I am. I've done pretty well for myself so far so I must be doing something right.
Am I willing to change some things in order to improve and get even further? Of course. Am I willing to listen and learn from anybody willing to teach me? Absolutely. But I really believe I can do those things while still being genuine and true to myself.
WWE.COM: The moment you came to NXT, you claimed you would fight anyone and everyone. How did you develop this mentality?
WWE.COM: Your success in making it here involved attacking and challenging Sami Zayn for the NXT Championship. Was it difficult for you to target your best friend?
OWENS: No. It's what I needed to do for my family's well-being. It could have been anyone. He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. I honestly mean that, 100 percent. It takes something special to be able to do what I did and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror every day. And that something special is called guts. Most people don't have any … or enough, anyway.
WWE.COM: Can the friendship between yourself and Zayn ever be repaired?
OWENS: I think so. He's said that he doesn't think it can, but I bet he'll come around. Eventually, he'll understand that I had to do this. It probably won’t happen anytime soon, but one day.
WWE.COM: You maintain a no-nonsense demeanor when you make your way down to the ring. How do you mentally prepare for your matches?
OWENS: I approach every match the same way, really. Before I step through the curtain, I mentally commit to the fact that I will get hurt, that I will be in pain, that I will go through hell and that I am going to hurt another human being, cause them pain and put them through hell. I make myself OK with that. And then I soak in the comfort of knowing that it's all to make my family's life better until my music hits. Then it's time to give everything. No regrets.
WWE.COM: What does the future hold for Kevin Owens, NXT Champion?
OWENS: Whatever I want. Bálor, Breeze, Itami, Corbin, Parker, English, Dillinger, Cassady, Amore, Kalisto, just to name a few ... that's potentially a lot of good fights coming my way. And I look forward to each and every single one of them.