Nobody ever doubted whether Kevin Owens had the tools to make the switch to the WWE. Yet even Owen’s supporters are impressed with his quick success in making the transition yet according to Owens, it really hasn’t been much of a transition at all.
“I had a bit of a struggle at first with thinking, “Who do I want to be here? What part of myself do I want to tap into so I get on NXT television as quick as possible?” Then I realized what I’d been doing for 14 years had worked because it had gotten me here. So there were little tweaks, maybe clean up the language a little, but besides that I think I’ve been pretty true to myself. And I think that’s a big part of what helps me be successful. I’m genuine, and I think people can see that when they watch. I’m just gonna keep going that way and see where that takes me.”
Owens’ story is a great lesson here that I hope isn’t being missed by the WWE. The process for most new signees has been to strip them down to basics and rebuild them with a WWE style. Guys like Finn Balor, Hideo Itami, and even Seth Rollins all had to go through rebuilding periods. For whatever reason, Owens was able to stay true to himself and the skills that brought him there. Whether this was an experiment or not, it’s working and it needs to be considered for all future signees coming in with large pedigrees outside of the WWE.
For independent road warriors like Owens, the NXT schedule is a breath of fresh air. I worked with Owens quite a bit in CZW and at the time he was making drives from Canada to Philadelphia in a packed car for little money. The new schedule is well deserved for someone like Owens who has certainly paid his dues.
”One of the big advantages of NXT for me was I get to sleep in my own bed every night almost. For years, I was on the road with the indies two, three days a week, and it got to the point where I’d wake up not sure which town I was in. Which, honestly, I kind of liked. That’s part of being a wrestler. But when I signed with WWE and moved to Orlando, my wife and my two kids came with me. That’s been great. My daughter just turned one a couple of weeks ago, so I get to be there for a lot of the landmarks I didn’t necessarily get to see with my first kid. That said, I do look forward to getting back on the road when the time is right.”
It also doesn’t hurt to work with your close friend and best rival in your first WWE program. Owens jumped right into NXT feuding with Sami Zayn. Zayn and Owens as El Genrico and Kevin Steen had one of the greatest rivalries in Ring of Honor history just a few years back. Owens was asked about the NXT feud and distinguishing it from their past rivalry.
Check out the entire interview in RollingStone.com where Owens goes into much more depth about his transition, his mentors in NXT, and more.