Fans of the prize fighter are bound to protest at the notion of him losing the WWE Universal Title this quickly after capturing it, but in all brutal honesty, his somewhat tepid reign hasn’t quite justified him holding on to the top prize in pro-wrestling any longer.
Before you blow your top, especially if you are one of the long suffering smarks that revelled in vindication when the WWE beggared disbelief by crowning the former Indie darling the Universal Champion, hear me out I pray.
A Champion, as the much-maligned John Cena typified, is meant to carry the company on his back.
Right from bearing the burden of making each show – episodic or PPV – stick, to ensuring on a war footing that ratings don’t plummet. From selling out arenas to convincing the fans to loosen their purse strings in order to buy merchandise.
From wearing the marketing face of the company to lubricating the lockerroom behind the scenes so that the sum is greater than the individual parts. From espousing believability and legitimacy in the ring, to exuding confidence and swagger outside of it.
The question isn’t whether Kevin Owens can manage to bring all these attributes and requirements together so as to be a good champion. The more pertinent query would be as to why he was pushed into the spot that required him to, in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong here. For a ‘new-timer’ that has just made his step up into the main roster for the better part of 2 years, the way he has conducted himself as the WWE Universal Champion has been nothing short of admirable.
However, apart from underlining a paradigm shift in the behind-the-scenes decision making, and to front the dawn of the New Era, there seems to be no other clear reason why the WWE hand-picked Kevin Owens to pick up where Finn Balor’s reign was forced to abruptly come unglued.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose, Owen’s fellow inhabitants in the rarified air at the top of the mountain, have all been tempered and tested sufficiently in the WWE, before being thrust into the limelight to bear the burden.
And even then, as Reigns would attest, any one of them isn’t above reproach. In Kevin Owens’ case, without ever even being involved in a main event feud, it was always a steep ask to suddenly expect a Superstar to puff his chest out and walk into the proverbial crocodile’s mouth.
The fact that he was always earmarked as a bonafide main eventer for the future assumes secondary importance here. In an industry as unforgiving on body, mind and reputation as pro-wrestling, it was an ill-conceived chance taken with Kevin Owens – and one that ultimately didn’t pay off.
Perhaps writing off his chances at Hell in a Cell against Seth Rollins isn’t wise. After all, the WWE seem more intent on one-upping the omniscient IWC with unexpected results than seeing through storyline continuity and logic to prevail with their creative direction.
But with the challenger heading into the PPV looking much more of a threat than the Champion, the WWE would be shooting themselves in the foot should they have Kevin Owens prevail over Seth Rollins inside the vaunted steel structure.
To cap it all off, Chris Jericho, a part-time veteran who perennially seems to be in the midst of the ‘best run of his career’ whenever he chooses grace the WWE with his fashion-savvy presence, has outshone his ‘best friend’ and stolen all of his thunder.
Fans seem more vested in seeing Jericho turn face and feud with Owens, rather than watching the Champion prove his mettle against the resurgent challenger for the WWE Universal Title.
Triple H’s shocking interference to gift Owens with the WWE Universal Title, at this point in time, seems to be little more than a moot point that has been washed away into irrelevance.
Perhaps it is the WWE’s reluctance to pull the trigger with the follow-up chapters of this storyline, though, that proffers the most revealing insight into the thinking of the powers-that-be.