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Exclusive: Kevin Owens Reveals Why WrestleMania Match With The Undertaker Never Happened

By Joe Baiamonte

It’s fair to say Kevin Owens hasn’t exactly fared too badly when it has come to WrestleMania. Last year, at WrestleMania 39, the former WWE Universal Champion won the Tag Team Titles with his best friend Sami Zayn in the night one main event, culminating a historic feud with The Usos. The year before KO was once again making history in the main event of opening night, coaxing Stone Cold Steve Austin out of his 19-year retirement for a comeback bout in the Rattlesnake’s home state of Texas.

But before all that history was made, The Prizefighter almost made his ‘Mania debut in the most spectacular fashion possible. By going (assumes Teddy Long voice) one-on-one with The Undertaker.

Back in 2016, Owens was a little under a year into his time on the main roster when WWE put on what was then ‘The Biggest WrestleMania of All Time’ in front of a reported crowd of over 100,000 people at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The former NXT Champion had spent the previous 12 months beating John Cena, putting on a series of bangers with the artist formerly known as Dean Ambrose and winning the Intercontinental Title a couple of times.

It was his second reign with the IC Title which would come to an end in Dallas, with Zack Ryder claiming the championship in a scintillating seven-man ladder match at the opening of ‘Mania 32. It was a couple of days before that match, during the WrestleMania media junket, that Owens revealed to me that the original plan for the event was for him to be facing The Deadman.

Talking about what might have been? Image: WWE

However, as we all now know, The Undertaker instead put his career on the line in a Hell In A Cell match against Shane McMahon, who was vying for control of Monday Night Raw at the time.

So what happened? Back in 2016, Owens did not elaborate on why this dream WrestleMania debut never ended up materialising. Fast forward to 2022, once again in Dallas, and the Canadian hero shed more light on the booking decisions that went into WrestleMania 32, just as he was preparing to take on another Texan Hall of Famer at AT&T Stadium.

“I think things just shifted and that was the year that Shane McMahon returned, so obviously at the time, my standing in the company compared to Shane McMahon coming back after all those years, the thought was probably ‘Shane McMahon versus The Undertaker is a huge match.”

Despite the then-boss’ son taking priority over KO’s heavily discussed plans with The Deadman, Owens still managed to share ring time with the Hall of Famer later on his career, and did so in pretty iconic surroundings.

“I know it was on the table and it was heavily discussed and it would have been amazing. My first WrestleMania, to be in there with The Undertaker, would have been sweet. It didn’t happen, but I’ve been in the ring with him. I was actually in the ring with him in the main event of a Madison Square Garden show, so I got to do that with him which was really cool.”

So if you are going to lose out on working a match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania, it’s probably not a bad alternative to work with him in a main event at the most famous arena in the world, is it?

This year, in Philadelphia, Owens is once again in a marquee position on the WrestleMania card, albeit not in the main event for the first time in three years. Instead, Owens will be taking on Randy Orton and Logan Paul for the YouTuber-turned-WWE Superstar-turned energy drink salesman’s United States Title – a title that Owens has already claimed at WrestleMania, when he relieved his former best friend Chris Jericho of it at ‘Mania 33 in Orlando, back in 2017.

As for the Undertaker match we were so cruelly robbed of back in 2016, it’s probably safe to say it’s more than been made up for with KO’s recent WrestleMania run, which will go down in the history books as one of the all time ‘Mania records in history.

WrestleMania 40 will emanate from Philadelphia, PA on 6th and 7th April, 2024, available only on Peacock, WWE Network and PPV.