If you heard the name Kevin Steen, you probably wouldn’t think much about it. It’s a fairly simple name, and we wouldn’t imagine the person being all that threatening (especially with the first name Kevin). But what if we said Kevin Steen was someone who has spent the better part of the last 16 years developing his craft inside and out of the ring? Many fans that follow the WWE may not know that Kevin Steen is gone, and a prizefighter stands in his place today: none other than Kevin Owens.
During his time in independent promotions, Steen was known for his deep repertoire of moves and aggressive fighting style, an ability to captivate an audience due to his unrelenting will to achieve. He was being noticed, and it was only a matter of time before he transitioned from promotions such as PWG and ROH to a much grander scale. Once the opportunity presented itself, Kevin Owens was born.
The development of Steen’s career certainly saw its ups and downs. Much like anyone else’s career that undergoes a change, Steen’s transitions from promotion to promotion led him to go in a number of different of directions. Whether it was like a fan favorite or a despised heel, Steen always made an effort to stand out. Owens really ran the gamut while trying to evolve. Gone is the wrestler who did a number of spots alone, but is it forgotten? We give you 14 things the WWE wants you to forget about Kevin Owens:
14. Owens’ six-month-old son (at the time) was part of a match
In May 2008, at the end of an event called DDT4 Night One, Steen’s son appeared in a segment with the wrestler Excalibur. During the segment Excalibur called the baby ugly. It seems like the meanest, most heel thing to do, to insult a child; not even a child, but a six-month-old baby. Steen didn’t take the insult and walk away, it pushed him over the edge and he defended his son by standing up for him. After the insults flew, Steen performed his finishing move at the time, the Package Piledriver, three consecutive times. Steen and his son got retribution for Excalibur’s comments. After hitting the move, Steen placed his son on top of Excalibur for the pin.
13. He has been wrestling longer than Roman Reigns
It would be easy to focus on the here and now, and recognize that Roman Reigns is a two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, former WWE Tag Team Champion and Royal Rumble winner. However, what Reigns doesn’t have is experience. To become a master at anything, you need to work at it. It doesn’t come overnight, and when it comes to wrestlers it takes years to perfect your craft. As the son of a wrestler, Reigns may have grown up around wrestling, but that is no substitute for not having wrestled when he was younger. Owens has been wrestling since the turn of the century, so while both men are just over thirty years of age, Owens boosts a near twelve-year advantage in experience. The roads that have brought them to the WWE are very different. For a number of WWE fans, that’s enough reasons for them to get behind Owens while Reigns remains a divisive figure.
12. He has a deeper moveset than fans normally get to see today
What you see from Kevin Owens isn’t necessarily what you get. One of the biggest concerns about Owens was would his body be able to hold up to the grind of being on the road since he’s bigger and has been dealing with nagging injuries. What is remarkable about Owens is his deep set of moves that fans don’t often get to see. During his NXT debut match against CJ Parker, Owens hit an over the top rope somersault plancha. While the move is something that Sami Zayn does, it is remarkable to see Owens be able to do it. During his time on the independents, Owens was known for being able to hit a Package Piledriver, a crossface, and something called the Steenalizer, which was essentially a package fall-away powerbomb. He can hit an enzuigiri, various suplexes and slams, but we don’t get to see them, at least not on WWE programming.
11. He named his son after Owen Hart
One of the most notable items about Kevin Steen is that growing up his favorite wrestler was the late Owen Hart. Owen came from a family rich in tradition, and the family lineage still exists today with a third generation of Harts competing. So when Steen had a son, he named him Owen. While this may not be something the promotion would normally want you to forget, in this circumstance it is due to the issues with Owen’s widow, Martha and how that relationship with the company has remained sour even 17 years after his death. It is also notable to mention that Steen’s name in WWE also acknowledges his favorite wrestler, and his son at the same time.
10. He learned to speak English as a teenager watching Monday Night Raw
The English language can be very tricky and complex. This is even more true when your teachers aren’t the most grammatically correct. The French Canadian Steen primarily spoke French in his home province of Quebec. Even to this day you can detect a slight French accent. But what is interesting is how he learned the English language. During the 1990s, Steen watched a great deal of Monday Night Raw and listened to the commentary team of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler. As the story goes, Steen would replicate the promos the performers would give on screen and the commentary he heard from Lawler and Ross, thus learning English. This isn’t ideally how the WWE would want anyone to learn English, especially during the Attitude Era.
9. He built a reputation for himself long before he came into the WWE
When he first appeared in NXT in December 2014, Steen received a huge welcome from the fans, one that was impossible to ignore. The commentators gave him his due and certainly had no problem focusing on his past. However, as time has passed, with his place in the promotion growing and his subsequent elevation to the main roster, there has been much less acknowledgement of his past. It is understandable that the company wants to focus on the here and now, but that doesn’t negate what he did before coming to the WWE. Steen was very successful in promotions such as Pro Wrestling Guerilla and Ring of Honor prior to his WWE arrival. Fans recognize his past achievements and certainly give Steen his due, as his match credentials including facing some of the best in the world, such as the recently signed Shinsuke Nakamura.
8. He has feuded with Sami Zayn prior to coming to the WWE
When Owens first turned his back on Zayn, it started a slow burn between the two. For a few weeks interviews were conducted discussing Zayn and Owens’ history with one another. They focused on how they shared the road with one another and were the best of friends. While that is true, it glosses over the fact that Owens and Zayn had incredible feuds with one another in other promotions. While Zayn was under the El Generico gimmick, he and Owens had a long feud during their time in Ring of Honor. The feud stemmed from Owens turning on his then-partner Generico during Ring of Honor’s Final Battle 2009. The feud lasted a year, which is unheard of in today’s wrestling. It culminated with a match at Final Battle 2010 when Generico put his mask on the line against Kevin Steen’s career. Generico was successful and thus ended Steen’s ROH career (albeit temporarily).
7. He began showing interest in wrestling after watching Shawn Michaels and Diesel at WrestleMania XI
While it wasn’t the most memorable WrestleMania main event in the event’s history, it was certainly enough to catch the attention of a young Kevin Steen. At WrestleMania XI, in Hartford, Connecticut “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels went against “Big Daddy Cool” Diesel for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. The match carried with it the glamour of having Pamela Anderson and Jenny McCarthy at ringside. That wasn’t, however, what endeared the match to Steen. The rivalry between the two opponents went back to when Diesel had played the role of bodyguard for Michaels. The story they told in the ring of two good friends that turned bitter enemies proved successful. In fact, it is a story line that Steen himself would use later on in his career when he would feud with his friend Sami Zayn.
6. His relationship with former WWE manager Jim Cornette
While Jim Cornette has not worked for WWE for quite some time, he and Owens worked together in Ring of Honor. Owens’ contract with ROH supposedly ended due to budgetary reasons, but he has claimed that his poor relationship with Cornette, ROH’s lead booker, may have been a contributing factor. Owens was promised a push by Adam Pearce, but Cornette elevated others above him. Owens has also stated that Cornette “froze” him out of ROH, and failed to make ROH President Cary Silkin aware of Owens’ status. Even though Owens was pulled out of ROH events, he continued to be paid every month, and was told he would be brought back a few months later. During that times Steen lost 40 lbs. on Cornette’s direction. However, after ROH was sold, Owens was told to wait an additional six months. This upset Owens, causing him to regain a great deal of weight. Eventually his contract expired in February 2011.
5. He has faced a former WWE Champion prior to their time in the WWE
While the WWE would like us to think that every confrontation or match up their wrestlers have is for the first time, this isn’t the case with Owens and a particular former WWE World Heavyweight Champion. During his time in Ring of Honor, Owens had altercations with a faction known as Age of the Fall. The faction consisted of Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black. Tyler Black may not be a household name, but he certainly has become one today in the WWE under the name Seth Rollins. He has captured the WWE Tag Team Championship, United States Championship and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Owens and Rollins never crossed paths in the WWE until they were partners in a tag team match just prior to Rollins’ ACL injury in the fall of 2015. A match between the two is one that fans look forward to seeing in the WWE, but it won’t the first time they have faced each other.
4. He’s been competing his entire career with an injured knee
Owens has been competing since he was sixteen years old, and is now over the age of thirty. Thus, his body has taken an exorbitant amount of abuse. Early on in his career, he injured his knee, and has had problems ever since, having had surgery several times. The injury was written into a storyline with ROH in 2009; during ROH’s Final Battle pay-per-view, he had what some thought to be his last match, when he and partner El Generico lost to the Young Bucks. Owens appeared to be in tears, and stated that this was going to be it for him. He embraced Generico, but followed it up by kicking him low, thus turning heel. While he has never allowed his knee issued to prevent him doing what he can do in the ring, he continues to compete with the injury.
3. Ranked in the top ten by PWI prior to coming to the WWE
Pro Wrestling Illustrated annually puts out its ranking of the top 500 wrestlers in the world. But while a number of wrestlers make this list, there are many who do not, so though 500 may seem quite extensive it is not. As mentioned before, Owens’ achievements stand out because of what he’s done before he came to WWE. One such accomplishment was being ranked number ten in PWI’s top 500 in 2013, a year before he joined WWE. Since then, he has continued to make the top 500 list; just like in 2013, he was ranked in the top ten, coming in at number ten. His rise to the top in the WWE has a lot to do with his experience in the ring, and even though this is why WWE sought to bring him in, it isn’t a secret they’d want to share with us.
2. He had an online spat with Sabrina The Teenage Witch
In the fall of 2015, actress Melissa Joan Hart stated after watching Owens on Raw that he is a “lazy wrestler. Yeah, I said it.” Owens was not one to shy away, as he retorted that he watched one of her shows and it put him in slumber which it was hard for him to recover from. After he made this comment, Hart was blocked from Owens’ Twitter feed. Hart posted a couple more tweets, as she thought her comments would motivate Owens, but they were blocked. This interaction was initially noted by Michael Cole on commentary. However, it was never pursued and subsequently dropped. The fallout led to Hart receiving criticism and threats from Owens fans. While that isn’t something WWE caused, it isn’t something they would like to be widely known that the WWE Universe was threatening Hart’s family over her criticism.
1. He beat the hell out of a heckling fan
As you can see, this took place a long time ago. Steen was being antagonized by a fan at ringside while competing for the IWS, and the much younger Steen didn’t backdown. While it is customary to jeer and heckle wrestlers in the ring, fans often should know the difference between talk and action. The fan clearly had too much to drink, which didn’t stop him from still heckling Steen. Playing the role of a heel, he challenged the fan to come in the ring. The fan did just that and the rest, as you can see, is history. The funny part here was that it wasn’t even the heckling fan that got kicked by Steen, but rather the fans friend. Fans run the risk that when they step in the ring, there is no playing around and the consequences of their actions are theirs and theirs alone.