Former WWE Universal Champion, Kevin Owens, was one of the featured guests on this week's After The Bell podcast hosted by Corey Graves. During the discussion, Owens went into the specifics about what lead to his appearance at last weekend's NXT Takeover: Wargames that helped Team Ciampa win Wargames.
Owens remembers having a stint in NXT that didn't last as long as some of their other stars, however, he looks back on it fondly. Feeling the energy of the NXT fans and his peers in the ring brought Kevin back to the main event of NXT Takeover: Brooklyn years ago.
"It's actually really hard to put into words and I've kind of been trying. Right after the show, they got me, Dijakovic, Keith Lee, and Tomasso to do a '.com', little post-match thing. I had too much to say and I knew I couldn't say it all because I couldn't put my thoughts into words how great it felt to be out there in that environment. So, I kind of just said, 'NXT, don't ever change.' And that's really what I mean - I loved my time there and I had a really limited amount of time there," Owens explained. "I was only on NXT television, as part of the NXT shows, I was only there about six months and then if you count the moment I got signed at the performance center until the time I got called up, that was ten months.
"So, it was a very short amount of time. But while I was there, I really loved my time there," Owens continued. "And I only got to do one TakeOver in a big arena like that. It was the first one in Brooklyn. So, to be able to do another one and experience it, and get the feel for it - obviously, Chicago was very kind to me. But even without that, being in the ring with those guys and a lot of them I have known for so long but I hadn't wrestled in a while. It was just - man, I'm trying to find the words because just saying, 'It was great!' is really understating it."
Owens has actually made it a running joke with Triple H that he's always ready and willing to cover for any NXT superstars who can't perform at a scheduled show. This time, however, Owens was actually Hunter's choice to fill in for an injured Johnny Gargano.
"It's been a constant throughout the last few years that any time I hear anybody at NXT getting injured or for some reason not being able to make a show, whether it's a storyline or not, I always send Triple H a text like, 'Hey, if you need somebody, I'm here. Hahahahaha.' We always have that little insider joke, and so the same thing happened when I heard that Gargano was off of TakeOver," Owens recalled. "I immediately texted him saying, 'I hear Johnny's out. I'm available.' And then this time the answer was, 'Well actually, that's a possibility. I'm looking into it.' I was like, 'Oh s--t, alright.' And then he called me in the middle of my European tour a couple of weeks ago and let me know that it was going to happen."
Owens was genuinely surprised that his involvement in the Wargames match never leaked out to various internet outlets. He noted how they weren't going out of their way to keep it a secret backstage on the day of.
"I guess I was sitting on it for a week and a half; we didn't tell anybody. I'm astonished it didn't get out because especially that day, we didn't take any precautions to try to keep it secret," Owens said. "I was just walking around with the guys and I was just there, like, I was just another NXT guy. So that fact that it didn't somehow leak that I was going to be in the match was a nice surprise because I don't know what it is about our industry and where we work that makes everybody want to tell everybody everything."
Owens wasn't used at this year's WrestleMania, so he mentioned how this massive part in Takeover: Wargames felt like his WrestleMania moment for the year. It reminded him of his very first night on NXT television, when he faced CJ Parker (now known as Juice Robinson in New Japan) in a one-on-one match.
"When I walked on the stage, it brought me back to my first NXT show, Takeover against CJ Parker. And I remember doing my entrance, and walking out on stage, and kind of looking at Full Sail Arena, which is obviously a fraction of the size of All State [Arena]," Owens said. "But it had the same feel, the same excitement, I felt the same goosebumps and the same thrill. And I forget who I was telling this to but I didn't get to do WrestleMania this year... Takeover really felt like WrestleMania. That day and even the week leading up to it, I was so excited. And then getting to do it and when I was in the ring - I guess that's the best way to put it. For me, this was my WrestleMania this year. That's how big it was."
Despite accidentally having his nose broken during their bout, Owens says that he became great friend with Robinson following their match.
"But [my broken nose] actually turned out for the best for me, you know? A beautiful friendship came out of that moment, so it's fine," Owens said.
Kevin now looks toward the future and his blooming storyline with Seth Rollins that began this past week on RAW. His main goal is to always stay relevant in the fan's eyes - something he feels he hasn't been great at accomplishing over the past year and a half.
"I don't know; the only thing I always worry about - and I say 'worry' but I use the term lightly. The proper term would probably be that the only thing I obsess about constantly is that whatever I do is relevant and matters," Owens explained. "If I'm being candid, I feel like more often than not over the past year and a half, what I was doing when I was on RAW or SmackDown was not necessarily that important, or it didn't matter as much as I wish my contributions to the show would matter. So, everything from [RAW this week], and confronting Rollins and having that match with him, to where we go from here on out, all I strive to do is make sure that whatever I'm involved with on the show is as entertaining as it can be, and enjoyable for the people watching as it can be. I just want to make it count."
You can listen to the full interview above.
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit After The Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.