If you listen to any of the old-timer’s WWE podcasts, then the odds are you have heard someone lament the death of the heel. How in 2016 no one goes for heat and the current crop of talent are too focused on being cool. It’s a view that in some ways is true but falls down when you present WWE’s new Universal Champion, Kevin Owens.
Owens lives and breathes being a heel. From calling out fans on Twitter to his self-proclaimed title of chin lock master. Sure he’s hilarious, and he can do incredible things in the ring, but you still want to boo him. You want to boo him because he’s a bastard.
Yet, even with that in mind Kevin Owens winning the title last Monday night on Raw was one of the reasons this industry/sport/entertainment/whatever the hell you want to call it is brilliant.
If you are even slightly aware of Owens career, you will know that he has been held back time after time. There is an episode of the Art of Wrestling (I believe it is 200) where Colt played an interview from before Owens was signed. On that show, he talks candidly about having to accept he was never going to make it to WWE. How he just wasn’t their guy. To see that man stand in the centre of the ring apparently very much their guy, well let’s just say there was a tear in the eye.
And sure, there will be people pointing to the fact that it wasn’t a real win. That without Triple H he would never have got the belt. You know what, a lot of the time I’d probably agree. But Kevin Owens doesn’t need to win clean. Give him the mic and let him sell that victory as his personal achievement and people will hate him even more than they already do.
Finally, have you ever seen a guy who is more of a good egg than Kevin Owens? Sure he plays this bullying, egotistical arsehole on TV but off camera, the man is a gent. From his adoring love towards his family to his obsessive love of zoos (something you can hear about again on the Art of Wrestling) Kevin Owens is a guy I want to support.
When Finn Balor had to relinquish that title, it felt like a lost opportunity. Here was a talent who can do it all being given the chance to prove himself on Raw and it was wrenched away from him. Yet, only a week later, it suddenly doesn’t seem so bad. Of course, I’m still devastated for Finn, but I have faith in him to come back better than ever. And in his absence, Mr Owens will keep that title warm. If the Gods of wrestling are watching he may even hold it until the day the Demon King returns and who doesn’t want to see that?