Popular WWE superstar, Kevin Owens, was one of Corey Graves' guests on this week's edition of the After The Bell Podcast. During his interview, Owens went into great detail describing his intentions using the stunner as a finishing move, as well as "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's reaction when he asked permission to use it.
"I had a conversation with [Steve Austin] years ago actually," Owens said, "I want to say it was in 2016. This is the thing, people were doing the stunner – you know, you'd have the odd guy do the stunner in a random match as just something they were doing and that was it. Like, nobody was using it as a trademark but I had seen guys use a stunner here and there, but not to the extent that I felt it should be used."
Owens felt like his consistent finisher, the pop-up powebomb, was being used in various ways throughout each match on RAW and SmackDown. To combat the overuse, Owens came up with the idea to start using the stunner as his new finisher.
"I remember sitting there watching the show and everybody does powerbombs in some way, shape or form," Owens continued. "You know, my finishing move was the Pop-Up Powerbomb, obviously. I was getting annoyed. Not at everybody doing a powerbomb, but at the fact that every match had something that looked like a powerbomb. So I started thinking, maybe I need something else. At the time, I was a heel or antagonist or however you want to put it... I remember thinking, if I were to start doing the Stunner, some people might love it and some people might really hate it, but nobody would be indifferent to it.
"And it's something that in what we do, is so invaluable: making sure that people aren't indifferent. I've never really worried about getting really cheered or really booed, I just want people to make a lot of noise because I think that's the best," Owens added. "I remember being in the ring with John Cena or getting ready for a match with Cena. And I would come out first, and my music would stop and then there's a couple seconds of dead air just to let the anticipation build. Then his music would hit and you would be hit with two very distinct noises - you've got the fans that hate him and are booing him, and you've got the people that love him that are cheering like crazy. It's just a crazy noise but it's so intense, and it's so great - the energy. Because then you get the people that hate him trying to out-do the people that cheer him, and you've got the people that are cheering him trying to be louder than the guys that are booing him. And it just becomes this great, crazy atmosphere."
Owens hopes that his contributions to WWE will eventually create this dueling crowd reaction of cheers and boos, similar to how John Cena or Roman Reigns is welcomed into an arena. He recognizes that only an elite few will ever reach a level of polarizing stardom where the fans react as such.
"Roman for a long time had the same kind of vibe going, so I've always strived for that kind of reaction. Of course, if a reaction is overwhelmingly positive, that's great. Or if you get a lot of heat, that's great too," Owens said. "But I think being in the middle isn't a bad thing, I actually think it's really great. Very few people will get to the point where they're as admired as they are despised. Polarizing - that is what I strive for. Polarizing is a very special thing to be in our industry, I think. The people that can claim to be legitimately polarizing are made for life because nobody will ever not care one way or another, and that's great."
Owens recalls Austin being enthusiastic about his asking permission to use the stunner more often. However, despite the positive reception from Austin, Owens was told he wasn't allowed to use it just yet with the direction his character was going. Now, the time is right and Owens continues stunning anyone who dares to cross his path.
"The stunner, in my head, was something that could be a great way for me to try to get [to polarizing]. So I went to Steve and I asked him if I could use it, and he was very happy that I asked him. You know, me giving him the respect of it but more than anything, he was happy that someone asked him because he's like, 'You want to use it as a finisher ?' I'm like, 'Yes'. He's like, 'God, it's about time; I can't believe nobody's tried this yet. I can't believe no one had come and asked about using the stunner as a finisher. It's a great finish, like, why not?' He then went on and said some people use it and it means nothing," Owens said.
"So I said, 'Okay, that's great." And then I tried to go through other channels and was shut down. So I wasn't able to start using it at that point, even though I snuck it in one of my matches with Roman [Reigns], which ended up leading to a funny exchange between me and Steve on his podcast later on where he tried how to use the stunner properly because I couldn't beat Roman with it that night," Owens continued. "Anyway, I've had Steve's blessing to use it for a long time and I was just waiting for the right time. This year felt like that was it, so that's what I've been going with. Some people love it, some people really hate it. But again, I'm fine with that. I love doing it."
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.