WWE’s Kevin Owens still impressed with his match against Steve Austin

Kevin Owens still marvels that he was able to bring « Stone Cold » Steve Austin out of retirement.

Owens teams up with John Cena, his first-ever WWE main roster opponent, against decades-old nemesis Sami Zayn and Roman Reigns on the final SmackDown of 2022 Friday Night on Fox. He spoke to The Post about coming full circle with Cena, his long arc with Zayn and what Austin’s match at WrestleMania 38 meant to him.

As we begin to head into the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania season, Owens reflected on his gratitude for his match with Austin at WWE’s biggest event earlier this year.

« I still haven’t figured out how it happened, » Owens said. « All I know is that several people have told me, from Steve to Vince McMahon to Bruce Prichard, that it couldn’t have been anyone but you – that is, me – with Steve. I don’t know who suggested it, who asked for it, or how it happened. One day I will. But the fact is, it’s extremely flattering to me that these three- there all thought I was the best choice. There really is no greater compliment than that for me.

Kevin Owens described the thrill of luring Steve Austin out of retirement.
Steve Austin gives Kevin Owens a Stone Cold Stunner at WrestleMania 38.
Steve Austin gives Kevin Owens a Stone Cold Stunner at WrestleMania 38.

It’s not just that Owens managed to land Austin’s first game in 19 years; is that it exceeded all reasonable expectations. Owens was WWE World Champion, but the Austin match was arguably his most important moment in the business.

« It doesn’t get better than this, » Owens said. « I said it the day after the game: it’s all downhill from here. »

One of the many tag match subplots that Owens has Friday on SmackDown is his perpetual story arc with Zayn. The two have been fighting as friends or foes in the storyline for over two decades, previously wrestling as Kevin Steen and El Generico all over the planet. Zayn, who kicked Owens into the family jewels to help Reigns’ Bloodline faction win Survivor Series’ WarGames main event, is currently riding a surreal wave in a highly entertaining storyline that is central to WWE programming.

Despite the recent on-screen betrayal, Owens is thrilled for his friend.

« He’s been an incredible performer for the 22 years I’ve known him and it’s great to see people finally taking notice and appreciating him as much as they should, » Owens said. “He’s getting the credit he’s long deserved. Our careers at this point, there is no denying that they will forever be intertwined and tied together. We will always come back to each other in one way or another, whether in combat or as a team. It’s a real pleasure to see things evolve for him.

Asked to estimate how many times they shared the ring together, Owens shouted the MithGifs Twitter account.

« She’s an amazing fan and knows all of our careers, » Owens said. “She came back and watched every match that involved the two of us that she could find of our freelance careers in WWE, and she writes these essays on her substack on our careers that I couldn’t recommend more. I kind of call her a Sami and Kevin historian.

The woman running the account has found 300 to 400 instances in which Zayn and Owens have been in the ring together – but he estimates that’s actually more than double.

“I guarantee you it’s not even close. It’s so much more. We’ve had so many shows in the backcountry of Quebec, or all over the world, that no website would have ever heard of,” Owens said. “If I had to guess, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say it’s definitely close to a thousand. We’ve been doing this for 20 years. It’s good. »

In Owens’ first WWE main roster match in 2015, he defeated Cena in a moment that meant he was supposed to be taken very seriously. Years after the two fell out in the script, Owens cites Cena as a mentor.

Kevin Owens mocks John Cena on an episode of WWE Raw.
Kevin Owens mocks John Cena on an episode of WWE Raw in 2015.

« John and I sort of mended the fences a long time ago, » Owens said. “We haven’t been on opposite sides of the ring in a while. He’s been an incredibly valuable person to talk to about WWE and wrestling in general for so long. Even when we were rivals, if you want to call him that, he was a great sounding board for ideas and anything I could do to improve myself as a performer. He has been at the top of the company for so long that I couldn’t have imagined not using this resource.


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