As previously noted, former WWE United States Champion Kevin Owens was recently a guest on E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness. Among many other things, Owens discussed his departure from Ring Of Honor, then known professionally by his birth name, Kevin Steen. Also, Owens talked about transitioning to the WWE Performance Center and working under the tutelage of WWE Hall Of Famer Dusty Rhodes. Additionally, Owens revealed which WWE Superstar does a "great" impression of Rhodes.
In 2010, a new regime at ROH wanted Owens, and Sami Zayn, formerly known as El Generico, out of the company. During those difficult times, Owens continued to receive his family's support, which fuelled him to continue on in his pro wrestling odyssey.
"After a couple of years, in 2010, Ring Of Honor went through a shift in management and the people that came in and took over kind of decided that they wanted to push me out. They weren't fans. Me and Sami both. They weren't fans of ours and they just felt that we weren't contributing to the product the way we felt we were. Pretty much every fan watching was into our stuff, but the people in charge weren't."
Owens added, "[a so-called 'nine-to-five job'] was never for me and my wife knew that. She always supported me and told me, 'you need to keep going and you're going to get there.' And I did. And her support was instrumental, as well as my parents. They were always there and always believed in me."
When Owens finally arrived at the WWE Performance Center to begin training for his NXT run, he was not sure who WWE wanted him to be.
"When I got to the Performance Center, I wasn't sure… So I knew who I was. I've known who I've been as a performer for a long time, but I wasn't sure, when I got to the Performance Center, if that's what they wanted me to be. All I know is William Regal came to a PWG show in California, saw me wrestle, and I was offered a tryout and that whole process took a little while, took a couple of months."
Owens continued, "I got to the Performance Center a couple of months later and I still wasn't sure who they wanted me to be in a way because I did the tryout, I cut the promo the way I talk, I didn't try to be anybody different when I was cutting the promo, and as far as, like, I did a little match there and I wrestled the match my way except for some reason they had me, at the time, I was always pretty much a heel and they had me work as a babyface, so that kind of felt weird. So even in the match, I wrestled my own style, but I wasn't being myself. And I had, like, this is WWE in my head and 'I can't go in my shorts and my cutoff t-shirt'. I had a nice singlet made. I wrestled in the singlet, which was completely not me at that time because I wrestled in a singlet 15 years ago, 10 years ago, whatever it was, 12 years ago, on the independents. But then, eventually, I transitioned into the more street fight-looking gear and that was definitely more me. But in my head, 'I can't wrestle in WWE in street fight-looking gear,' so I wasn't sure which parts of the tryout they had liked: was it the promo that was entirely me or if they were they like, 'no, it's the way he wrestled'. Like, my mind was kind of playing tricks on me because nobody's telling me anything concrete and everybody has opinions. Everybody at the Performance Center is trying to help you in their own way and they give you their opinion on what they think will work or what they think you should do.
According to Owens, podcast co-host Christian and Rhodes gave him the confidence he needed to be himself.
"[Christian] kind of told me, 'look, you've just got to be you' and that resonated with me. And then, over time, I got to know Dusty Rhodes better. And Dusty and I got closer and closer and Dusty echoed the same thing, so that definitely went a long way in me getting the confidence to just be me. And it's exactly like [Christian] said, if you go too far, they'll pull you back, but you don't want to [not go far enough]. Yeah, exactly. You don't want to be too hesitant and not give everything you could give. Then, you might be holding back something that they could love."
KO went on to say that nobody influenced him in such a short time the way Rhodes did.
"I only got to work with Dusty for 10 months from the time I got to the Performance Center and then till the time I got called up on the road. And about a month later, he passed away. But, man, the time I had with Dusty is invaluable and I'm so thankful for it. I was fortunate to learn from a lot of people throughout my career, but nobody made as much of an impact in such a short time on me as Dusty did."
Apparently, RAW Superstar Dean Ambrose does such a good impression of Rhodes that it comforts Owens when he misses 'The American Dream'.
"You know who [has] got a great Dusty impersonation, by the way, is Dean Ambrose? It's unbelievable. Like, obviously now he's on RAW and I'm on SmackDown, so I'm not around him that much and before that, he was on SmackDown and I was on RAW, so I haven't been around him for a year-and-a-half, almost two years, maybe, but anytime he would bust it out when we were on the same brand, it would actually, no joke, make me feel, like if you close your eyes, you feel like you're in the room with Dusty, the way he talked. I swear. I never told Dean this because he probably would have thought it was really weird, but when he would do the Dusty impersonation, it made me feel great because it felt like a little bit of Dusty. It's weird, but he's so good!" Owens explained, "it's really good. And it's not just his voice. It's the way he speaks, even the stories he tells because, obviously, he was around Dusty a lot, so he [has] got the stories down and everything! It's absolutely fantastic. I like Dean a lot, but it's definitely my favorite thing about him, his Dusty impersonation."
Check out the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes that appear in this article, please credit E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness with an H/T to WrestlingINC for the transcription.
Source: E&C's Pod Of Awesomeness