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Exclusive: Kevin Owens Reveals His Dream ECW Opponent

By Joe Baiamonte

At this stage in his career, Kevin Owens has stepped foot inside the squared circle with many of the all-time greats. Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, AJ Styles, Bryan Danielson and, of course, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

But there are still icons out there who have evaded the Prizefighter throughout his career.

In Philadelphia at the beginning of April, Kevin Owens returned to the city that helped establish him as one of the biggest ‘can’t miss’ talents of the United States independent scene. Through his wars in Ring of Honor and Combat Zone Wrestling, Owens developed himself into an ECW legend that never was. A few years too late to the City of Brotherly Love to truly accept the warm, ultraviolent embrace of the ECW Arena crowd.

Owens, under his real name of Kevin Steen, still of course enjoyed more than a few rapturous receptions in Philly during those formative years as he found and evolved himself as a professional wrestler, capturing the Ring of Honor Title and Tag Team titles in the process. And who could forget the story of Steen and El Generico? Hall of Fame worthy work. Although whatever became of El Generico no one will ever know.

Yet for his smashmouth style and affinity for carnage, Owens – often unkempt, rugged and spoiling for a fight – has always seemed tailor-made for the original ECW. So naturally, it felt right to discuss his time in Philadelphia and his love for E-C-Dub during WrestleMania week in Philadelphia, earlier this month.

Back in the home town of extreme, with Paul Heyman waiting in the wings to deliver an absolute all-timer of a Hall of Fame induction speech later that night, WrestleSphere caught up with the former Universal Champion and pondered about the ECW legends he would have loved to tear the house down with back in the day.

“Well, I’m lucky enough to have had matches with a lot of those guys,” Owens begins, highlighting his independent days and the ECW originals he came into contact with during his time on the indie scene, “I got to be in the ring with Steve Corino, who became my mentor. He was my absolute favourite growing up alongside Stone Cold and Shawn Michaels. And then Rhyno, I got to be in the ring with him too and I loved Rhyno. I’ve got to be in the ring with Masato Tanaka, with Tommy Dreamer. It was great.”

Yet, there is a name high, very high, in fact, on the list of ECW greats, that Owens has still never come to blows with.

“Rob Van Dam is probably one guy from ECW that I didn’t get to wrestle that I would have loved to wrestle. But maybe it’s not too late. Who knows?”

And while we salivate over the thought of KO taking on a prime RVD, in his late ’90s pomp, running regular 25 minute classics with Jerry Lynn, we still hope there is time for such a match to be worked out in the present day. Only a night before this interview took place, the Whole F’n Show was taking fans on a trip down memory lane with a bout in the old ECW Arena (now the 2300 Arena), refereed by Lynn, against Mike ‘Speedball’ Bailey. Flanked by the whistle-toting Bill ‘Fonzie’ Alfonso, Van Dam looked as though he hadn’t lost a step en route to a well received victory at the WrestleCon Mark Hitchcock Memorial Show.

Owens’ recent rivalry with Tama Tonga has already got pretty extreme. Image: WWE

Owens, meanwhile, would go on to narrowly miss out on once again lifting the United States Title, with champion Logan Paul outwitting him and newfound best mate Randy Orton in a pulsating triple threat match on night two of WrestleMania 40. Since then, the former Intercontinental Champion has found himself embroiled in a bloody feud with the new look Bloodline and namely the faction’s newest member, Tama Tonga, who, in a fashion not too dissimilar to what we became accustomed to with ECW, left KO a crimson mess on only his second night with the company.

The recent reigniting of tensions between Owens and The Bloodline has led to a tag team match being booked between him and Orton and the team of Tonga and Solo Sikoa at Backlash in Lyon, France this Saturday evening (4th May).

WWE Backlash will emanate from Lyon, France on 4th May, 2024, available only on Peacock, WWE Network and PPV

Featured Image Credit: WWE