Source: The Steve Austin Show
Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin chatted with former WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens. Among other things, Owens talked about the importance of being himself as a WWE Superstar, Daniel Bryan paving the way for independent professional wrestlers in WWE, telling his wife he would move up to the main roster from NXT in six months, and what Dusty Rhodes thought of Owens' WWE ring name.
"When I got to NXT, I had no idea what or who I would be really. I got signed, but I was never given an indication of what the plans were, if there were plans. As a matter of fact, when I got signed, Canyon Ceman, who is Triple H's kind of righthand man with recruiting talent, called me and said, 'well, we're going to hire you, but I was told to let you know not to get your hopes up as far as RAW and SmackDown goes because, as you're aware, you're maybe not somebody who Vince McMahon would gravitate towards. But you're going to get your chance in NXT like everyone else.' And my exact words back to him were, 'well, I look forward to the challenge' and he said, 'well, I thought that's what you'd say.'"
According to Owens, he had singlets made when he made the leap to WWE; however, fellow NXT graduate Enzo Amore told the former Kevin Steen not to wear them unless he is told to change.
"I had singlets made because I figured, 'well, WWE, you've got to look nice and clean.' And that's not me. That was never me." Owens continued, "Enzo Amore, at that point, I didn't know my name; I didn't know my character; I didn't know [anything]. Enzo saw me in my singlet and he was like, 'well, what is that? That's not you. Till you're told otherwise, just be you.' I was like, 'oh, alright.'"
In Owens' view, he was brought into WWE to be himself and has not strayed from that philosophy.
"I got here because of who I was and they want me to be me. And I've always stayed true to that. Of course, there [are] little aspects of who I am, that I've played up at different times, like the last few months I've been more about being entertaining and this and that, but I feel like I've shown all kinds of shades of my character from the time I showed up with [John] Cena till now." Owens added, "that's what I was in Ring Of Honor. That's what I was in PWG. That's what I was on the indies for years. And when I got here, I just didn't know if that's what they wanted. Once I got the feel that is what they wanted, I went in headfirst and never looked back."
Owens professed that WWE Superstars like him, Sami Zayn, and Samoa Joe owe Daniel Bryan for creating space in the WWE for performers with differing body types.
"Now it's a very different environment and a very different territory, if I may borrow the expression. We really do have guys of all sizes, all shapes, and there [are] the cruiserweights. Everything [has] really changed in the last two years, but at that time, it still wasn't this way. There'd already been guys that, much like myself, were successful even though they weren't the kind of guys you'd expect Vince to be onboard with, like Daniel Bryan. He probably deserves a lot of credit for people like myself and Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe being here because he really broke down the barriers, almost like the fake barriers that people were putting up. Yeah, the perception. He really changed the perception."
Owens recalled that he told his wife that he would only be in NXT for six months and she was skeptical despite being generally supportive of his dream of being a WWE Superstar.
"I wasn't okay with living in Florida for an extended period and I don't know what made me say this, but I told her 'once I'm on NXT television, I'll be on the main roster in six months and we can move back home.' And as much as she loves me, as much as she believes in me, she was the one to say, when a lot of people would tell me you'll never get to WWE' or 'if you do make it, you won't be successful', she would always tell me that they weren't right and that I would. As much as she loved me and believed in me, she still said, 'well, guys stay in NXT for years. Like, it's a nice thought, but come on!' But then, if you do the math, I started in NXT on December 11th and May 18, I showed up on RAW and was called up and that was six months, so it came true."
Also during the podcast, Owens said that Rhodes, who was assisting talents in NXT at the time, did not like the Owens last name until he heard that Triple H came up with it.
"[Rhodes] goes, 'Kevin Owens, huh?' I'm like, 'yep. Do you like it?' He goes, 'nope!' And as he keeps walking back to the office, I'm kind of laughing. He goes, 'who thought of it?' and I go, 'Hunter,' and he goes, 'I love it!' And that's Dusty! He really popped me! 'Nope!', 'I love it!' That's pretty good."
Take a stroll through 317 Gimmick Street here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
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