WWE NETWORK SPECIAL REVIEW – KEVIN OWENS 365
FIRST AIRED: NOV. 19, 2017
REPORT BY JASON DARLING, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The special begins with Kevin Owens saying “I am so obsessed with being a WWE Superstar” and “It is where I belong”. A highlight reel of his accomplishments, not only in WWE, but NXT runs with the narrator talking over top of it explaining Owens accomplishments. He doesn’t look like the typical wrestler but made a huge impact on his very first night in WWE. This special shows a year long journey of Owen’s career, through the triumphs and failures.
(Darling’s Thoughts: This intro was a good way to set the pace for what the series will be, it will be interesting to see if they use the same formula for future episodes. Also it was a bit odd to see Kevin’s NXT work in the package but if that is part of the last years worth of footage they will be using it makes sense.)
WWE 365 will chronicle Kevin Owens career from SummerSlam 2016 to SummerSlam 2017 as told by Kevin Owens himself. Kevin walks into frame and sits down as if to just start the interview from here. “If I were to describe the last year of my career in one word it would be extreme” Kevin says. It has been quite the ride with extreme highs and extreme lows. He came in right off the bat with John Cena and won the Intercontinental Championship not long after. There is a lot of guys who can come in and main event a show, but only a select few can come in and be consider one of the top guys, and that is what Kevin wants to be known as. SummerSlam being the second biggest show of the year Kevin was hoping to have one of the biggest spots or to have a big moment. Kevin had a tag team match with Jericho against Enzo and Cass on the SummerSlam card. After the match is over the camera’s catch up with Kevin backstage and he says that although he enjoys teaming with Jericho it isnt exactly where he envisioned himself, he wants to be closing SummerSlam not opening the show.
Kevin, back in the interview room, describes always trying to be positive and when talking about anything outside of wrestling and his career he looks at the bright side. He can never seem to do that with the WWE, he should have enjoyed the moment and relished the fact he was teaming with Chris Jericho, but the bottom line is he was not. Kevin was too lost in his own obsession of getting to the top and he didn’t appreciate it as much as he did. Despite not liking his spot on the card he was really hoping for the best for Finn Balor as they are very good friends. After Balor’s match, which was being crowned the first Universal Champion, Kevin knew something was wrong as did most everyone in the back. Despite the pain and knowing it was his friend he knew since Finn would be out they needed a Universal Champion.
(Darling’s Thoughts: It’s curious that they started the special with talking about Kevin Owens debut, but then the actual show is about SummerSlam 2016-2017. Still enjoying the premise of the special but I feel like it should be in stages and this could be a special you revisit multiple times with multiple time frames. Starting with SummerSlam completely isolates his first few months in WWE and his NXT work.Perhaps they could do a special about his debut at some point because it was just as vital in his career as this year span in my opinion.)
Raw nine days later and becoming Universal Champion:
Kevin Owens had the opportunity of a lifetime, to become the vacated Universal Champion. Kevin dreamed of being WWE Champion for 21 years so he is extremely excited for the match. Kevin doesn’t get nervous, he gets so anxious he tries to visualize every moment of the match. Despite his anxiety it didn’t go at all how he thought it would. A video package follows the match showcasing Owens offense throughout the match and the eventual match end. Triple H pedigrees Rollins much to fans surprise, Kevin’s voice is overlaid on the final moments. He says “If you look back at the footage I look really blown away, because I am blown away”. The final moments of the match play out on the screen showing all of Owens emotions. Kevin went back in his mind to events he went to in Montreal watching Triple H, and now the guy he use to watch was handing him the new Universal Championship. Triple H parades Kevin around the ring and tweets celebrating Kevin’s victory appear on the screen. They had a moment in the ring and Kevin “It’s as real as it gets”, when he was younger he had imagined that moment 1000’s of times.
The camera catches up with everyone clapping for him backstage, Mick Foley was the first to talk to him about his title win. For Micks title victory he was looking back up at the ramp and saw Vince McMahon seething, Mick said he suspected that Vince was smiling deep down. Kevin got to actually see Vince smile when he went backstage. The camera captures them hugging and Triple H posing with Kevin for pictures. The first thing Kevin wants to do after his photoshoot with the title was to call his Wife and Kids to share the moment with them since they couldn’t be there. His family was there through it all and now he is at the highest point he has ever been. Despite the big win Kevin couldn’t help but feel a little bad about Finn vacating the title because rightfully it should have been Finn’s. It made Kevin’s night that he was able to open his phone to a call from Finn and see his smiling face and see how happy he was for Kevin.
(Darling’s Thoughts: Reliving the moment Kevin won the title was nice, I think the intent was to make you believe Kevin didn’t know that Triple H would be the one presenting him with the title. I unfortunately don’t really believe that, I believe the reaction was just Kevin’s natural response to him finally reaching the summit. Seeing the warm reception in the back was nice too, especially from Vince, created a great feel good beginning)
Universal Title and Jeri-KO:
Next week’s Raw, Kevin gets the sideplates for his title put on. Kevin wants to make this title reign as memorable as possible. Wants to make the title mean as much as possible. He was really excited for making something out of the brand new title. A video package starts showing various matches and the span of time from 36 days, to 71 days, and to his Hell in a Cell match with Seth Rollins. Kevin says when you talk to people who know what WWE is and may not keep up with it, they know what Raw is, when you are the face of Raw that is pretty special. It helped him feel like the top guy he wanted to be. The video package ends at 120 days and with an aerial view of Pittsburgh, with “Roadblock Pittsburgh 12.18.2016” written across the screen.
Kevin and Jericho are seen walking around in the loading dock area talking and looking for their car. A few WWE Ride Along scenes follow with them talking about Jericho’s debut. It’s crazy for Kevin to go from watching Jericho to sitting in a car sharing stories together. Kevin tells a story of tagging with Jericho before their match at SummerSlam on Smackdown Live. They cut to the Ride Along story with Jericho being called the “GOAT” by Kevin and him being confused and calling Kevin the Donkey. When they went into the back Vince was howling and really enjoying what they were out there doing. A video package runs showing all of the moments Jericho and Kevin had over 6 months. Highlights included Jericho putting wrestlers on “The List”. Jericho and Kevin together was the hottest thing on Raw. Day 177 was the infamous “Festival of Friendship” in Las Vegas. Kevin, back in the interview room, says Jericho was in “Rare Form” acting goofy and just generally being odd. Despite what the storyline was, Kevin said he really enjoyed every moment of that segment and the reveal of Jericho being on the new list Kevin created and the subsequent beat down.
Kevin says he felt it would have been perfect for him and Jericho to headline WrestleMania with everything they did for Raw and the title after the “Festival of Friendship”, but then everything changed.
(Darling’s Thoughts: It was nice reliving the Jericho and Owens storyline that culminated to WrestleMania and made me really wish it had been for the title. The slow burn is something you don’t see very often and when it’s done right by the right wrestlers it really just clicks. The Smackdown with the GOAT comment from Kevin was downright hilarious and is the kind of dynamic I think missing from a lot of teams today. You see sparks of it from Breezango and The New Day but I think we need more teams like this. The ICONIC duo of Peyton Royce and Billie Kay could shine really well once they are called up in this way, working moments off of each other and the crowd.)
Day 197 – The day everything changed:
Fastlane, Milwaukee, 3.5.2017, Kevin Owens vs Goldberg, Kevin says he hated Goldberg growing up, he was a WWE guy and Goldberg was WCW. Despite his reservations he thought it was pretty cool to have a match with Goldberg, he also wished it could have been more than it was.
WrestleMania Orlando, is Day 225, the day Kevin Owens has always waited for, on the grandest stage of them all. At WrestleMania 24 Kevin was in the crowd, now 9 years later to be a focal point is surreal. While talking about his experience Kevin’s car pulls alongside AJ Styles car. He rolls the window down and makes mention about how he and AJ were Champions and how they both should have been headlining WrestleMania. Charlotte Flair is in the back seat and agrees with both of them and they all agree to “Wreck Sh*t” tonight at WrestleMania. Up until Wrestlemania Kevin says he “hasn’t had many lows” he is excited to be facing Jericho for the US title, and showing everyone why he should have been main eventing. He preps backstage, drinks his water, the music hits and he heads out. A video package plays of the match between Jericho and Owens with commentary over it playing up their rivalry. Kevin wins the match and US Championship, walks into the back, however Kevin knows he didn’t steal the show. He blows the cameras off and goes to see Vince in gorilla. Kevin asks “Are we good?” Vince replies with “No” Kevin, shocked, says “No?” then just stares at the monitors in disbelief. “Vince didn’t like the match, it wasn’t what he was looking for, he wasn’t happy at all”. This is the first time Kevin has ever gone to the back and has disappointed Vince. The last 8 months have meant absolutely nothing now that he had failed on the biggest stage of them all.
(Darling’s Thoughts: After seeing the high Kevin was on being Universal Champion and then watching him lose it and fail at WrestleMania tugs at the heart strings a bit. To go on this journey with him and see it all come apart is almost like a baby face turn, one day when that happens if there is this much effort in creating a connection with Kevin and the fans he will be top Face rivaling AJ Styles.)
Smackdown Live, Boston, Kevin was traded to Smackdown which he couldn’t help but feel was a bad sign. He started the “Face of America” gimmick and felt it was the perfect rebranding he needed. It was about dusting himself off and starting over again. A montage plays of his US title reign, with Kevin talking over it talking about how great it was playing the heel face of America.
On day 321 the infamous house show which we saw AJ Styles beat Kevin Owens for the United States Championship. Kevin asked himself where does the “Face of America” character go? He felt like he was losing his identity, he doesn’t know, he is in uncharted waters again, and he will go back to the drawing board.
The rivalry between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens culminated at Battleground with a US title match that ended very awkwardly. The video package did not show the pin up close but instead a view from the crowd as you heard the 1,2,3. Tweets appear on the screen from fans complaining about the ending. Kevin won the match but it wasn’t what the company wanted and generated buzz for the wrong reasons. Kevin is backstage with his newly won title, he says matches like these make it really hard to have taken a step back, even though now this is a step forward again. Right now the big picture doesn’t seem relevant to him because he didn’t deliver how the company was hoping. The title reign was short lived as AJ pinned Chris Jericho in a triple threat match the next week on Smackdown Live. This would go on to set up a rematch for Kevin and AJ that would happen at SummerSlam with Shane McMahon as the special guest referee.
Kevin returns to the same place that started his journey just one year ago, he comes out of his hotel room and has to turn down a few autographs because he is late. Kevin is talking about a conversation he had with a child the night before, and the child is reminiscing about the match he had with Enzo and Cass just last year at SummerSlam and how awesome that was for the kid. Kevin agreed with him that it was awesome, but that a week later he won the universal championship and he felt this is where he was really meant to be.
A video package plays with Kevin talking over it and talking about Shane being a special attraction and that every time he steps into the ring it is magic. Wrestlers are filing into the arena for the evening and Finn finds Kevin and they talk a bit. First about avoiding the barricades along the outside, then about the camera crews. Finn blames the cameras for always distracting him, while Kevin says that the cameras have been pretty good to him, they share a laugh. Kevin was extremely happy to be back talking with Finn, they both got drafted to Raw, Finn got hurt. Then Finn came back and Kevin got drafted to Smackdown.
The show begins and Kevin talks about what a high profile match this year is to him. But he has learned, so was last year he was “To full of sh*t” to realize it. This year he is going to make it memorable for the fans. A video montage of the match plays with near falls and finishers. Then a false finish plays with AJs foot on the rope and Shane counting 1,2,3 then instantly waving off the call seeing the foot. They fight a bit, AJ takes advantage, hits Kevin with the styles clash and the match ends.
This time Kevin goes behind the curtain, right to Vince and asks “Was that alright?” Vince responds with “That was exactly what we were looking for” Kevin thanks him and exits. Now backstage again Kevin says he doesn’t feel happy, but he doesn’t feel unhappy. Kevin says he is too much in his head, he has Vince’s praise but he feels he still didn’t deliver the best match he could have. He jokes maybe they should call this special “Kevin Owens 365: I Don’t Know” because he doesn’t know how he feels.
30 Minutes later Kevin is walking back towards the camera crew holding his phone. Says he received a text after his match from Stone Cold Steve Austin saying he absolutely loved the match, Kevin says he’s now fine. It’s hard to live with never feeling like you do good enough, the last 12 months have been quite a ride. He reached the highest point in his career with winning the Universal Championship. 8 Months later he hit the lowest point, according to Kevin.
(Darling’s Thoughts: From WrestleMania to SummerSlam Kevin’s only notable feud was with AJ, but it was exactly what he needed to turn things around. Each stage of the feud was exciting and seeing Kevin forge through it was a great way to end the special)
Beyond the one year mark:
After the special ended, Kevin got to have one of the most memorable moments in Smackdown with a rare appearance from Mr McMahon. Kevin delivers a headbutt and a frog splash to Vince, he was officially back. He beat Shane McMahon in Hell in a Cell and is continuing to forge forward, 1 day at a time.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This being the first 365 special it’s obvious to see WWE’s production value on full display here. A year’s worth of story for Kevin being condensed into roughly 45 minutes created a good quick special for those who may be coming back to wrestling and are new to Kevin. As a fan reliving these moments, it was fun to revisit but it didn’t provide a lot of NEW insight. The interview aspect is nice but if they got to talk a bit more about the match I think it might serve the purpose of the special a bit better. My assumption is these series is not only to follow the wrestler around for a year, but to get more of a backstory, which was pretty light on this episode. Again, I am still optimistic for the future episodes.)