Sunday 2 July 2017

WWE 'The Kevin Owens Story' DVD Review By James Russell

It never ceases to amaze me how down to earth this man is. As much as he loves the wrestling business, nothing means more to him than his family and that is apparent from the very beginning of his story. Kevin Yannick Steen was born May 7 1984 and raised in Marieville, Quebec. We don't learn much of his childhood other than one day, for some reason, his dad decided to rent a wrestling tape. It was Wrestlemania 11. Shawn Michaels vs Diesel in the main event. Being a scrawny 11 year old that looked more like he was around 8 years old, he immediately looked up to the heartbreak kid because he was the smaller guy battling the giant. He became obsessed. From that day on it was "wrestling, wrestling, wrestling", according to his father. Then eventually the day came - he wanted to train. Kevin admits that when he got in the ring he wasn't particularly good at it and his elbows were hurting a lot and his head was pounding from it. He immediately started to doubt himself. His mom worked nights and when she called to ask him how training went, he admits he told her he wasn't sure it was for him and he was already thinking of quitting. She was blown away because she knew how much wrestling meant to him. Lucky for us fans, the next day he put a mattress outside, carried on practising and working hard and stuck at it. The following day he went back to the gym and thought "let's do this". We then hear a story from his old friend, Neil Felzenstein. He says he showed up to this wrestling school in the middle of a flea market and there's this kid doing 450 splashes and blowing everyone away. Kevin was definitely the star pupil. He had his first match at just 16 and made his parents proud and immediately began to make some waves. Sami Zayn then talks about how he'd heard about this Kevin Steen guy from his friend and asked if he was any good. His friend responded, "he's really good, but he knows it, he's kind of a jerk too". So even from such an early age, Kevin has never had a problem with self confidence or rubbing a few people the wrong way. Steve Corino talks about Kevin's confidence in himself at just 18. He immediately thought he was amazing and the future of the wrestling. We see early footage from his career from the IWS (International Wrestling Syndicate) promotion against guys like El Generico (Sami Zayn) and his friend Neil. He used moves from everybody. Rock Bottoms, Stunners, even split legged moonsaults were in his arsenal! But the biggest moment of his (and Sami's) career came when one of the IWS guys, SeXXXy Eddie, went down to Philadelphia based promotion CZW (Combat Zone Wrestling), for their death match tournaments. He severed an artery in his arm and began to drink the blood from his arm.

Steen with good friend and sometime rival El Generico
This made people take notice and made them think, "hey, these Quebec guys are nuts", according to his friend Neil. They then brought a couple of guys to a CZW show for a match. Kevin vs Generico vs SeXXXy Eddie vs eXceSs 69 in a fatal 4 way match. They stole the show and immediately opened up doors, not just to Philadelphia and the east coast but to America. This opened to door for PWG which led to ROH which led to wrestling around Europe. We then see some footage from Kevin's early days in Ring of Honor. 'Mr Wrestling' was his nickname back then because of how good he was. Johnny Gargano, Neville and AJ Styles talk about how amazing he was and there was nothing he couldn't do. He was untouchable, even back then. Neville then talks about as impressive as his in ring work was, it was his trash talk that separated him from everyone else. There was nobody better. However, growing up in Quebec he couldn't speak English, so he learned how to speak English from wrestling - specifically Jim Ross. Sami even talks about how back then there was a lot of 'Good God Almighty' coming out of his mouth! Kevin tells a great story about meeting Steve Austin in an airport in 2005 and asking him for any advice. Austins advice was never stop trash talking - which was fine to Kevin because he loves to talk! We then see footage from the ROH Driven show back in 2008 in Boston, where Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) and Jimmy Jacobs (Chris Scobille, who now writes for the WWE) lost their ROH Tag Team Championships to Steen and Generico. Rollins and Jacobs both say it was the biggest pop they had ever heard up to that point when the referees hand hit the mat for 3 and they won the titles. Steen and Generico definitely had something special and were well and truly made men with the ROH fans. They were only second to Bryan Danielson. Sami talks about driving back after a show and talking with Kevin. He says Kevin has always been a 'hands on kinda guy', especially when it comes to his career and he just felt like something needed changing. Kevin says he felt like they had run their course as a tag team and needed something fresh. He decided they needed to split. They mapped out a year long storyline and took it to ROH. Steve Corino talks about how he showed this sort of creativity at such a young age and knew he needed a change and took the risk. And it was definitely worth the risk. Final Battle 2009. Kevin spoke after the match to Generico about how much he loved him and they hugged in the centre of the ring. 2000 people applauding. Some crying. Goosebumps all over the building. And then Kevin turns and says..."I hate your fucking guts!" And puts Generico down. This is the moment, not just in Kevin's career but Generico too, where they both took the next step and became something special. They both had a year long feud and constantly stole the show. It was the hottest feud on the indies, according to Neville. And it was exactly what ROH needed at that time according to Corino. 12 months had gone by. Final Battle 2010. The match was made a loser leaves town match. New management had come in to ROH, specifically Jim Cornette, who clearly didn't believe in Kevin as much as everybody else did. So he gave Kevin some time off, however from Sami's POV, Kevin was basically told to leave. This left a sour taste in his mouth. This was his job, his livelihood. He made a family, had recently gotten married and now he has to sit and watch for god knows how long. So he basically abandoned wrestling, in his own words. So he made his family his number 1 priority over wrestling and essentially walked away from it for 6 months. He did a podcast with a buddy and was asked "what's next?" And he had no answer. He considered quitting. Sami says he and Kevin's father spoke to him and tried to remind him to take this seriously and not walk away from what he's wanted his whole life. Then Kevin wrestled at a PWG show and that helped turn it around for him. He decided to change things up a bit. At ROH Best in the World 2011, he returned to the promotion after Steve Corino announced 'Mr Wrestling has returned to Ring of Honor'. He stood on the balcony, in street clothes and the entire building shook. Jimmy Jacobs says he had never felt anything like that. He was carried out of the building by security and says he 'felt like Jesus on a cross'. He became the ROH version of Stone Cold in Steve Corinos opinion. No matter what he did, they loved him because he was the Everyman. Almost a year later at ROH Border Wars 2012, he won the ROH World Championship. But in his opinion it was too late.

Steen as ROH champion
They were giving him the title because they had no choice. In Jimmy Jacobs' own words it had to be him. There was nobody else. Kevin admits it wasn't as special as he'd imagined it would be. Then not long after Sami had his tryout with WWE and even signed his contract in front of Kevin. He didn't do this to rub it in his face, but because they'd been through everything together and he wanted to share it with his best friend. However, to Kevin, this stung. Knowing Generico is going to WWE and he's nobody near that. He still had 2 years left on his deal with ROH. And times were tough for Kevin. Sami admits he wanted him to join but was worried he wouldn't get his chance. Seth Rollins holds his hands up and admits "right here, I'm one of his best friends, but I never thought Kevin Owens would be a WWE wrestler because he just doesn't look like a WWE wrestler". Then we see Triple H and William Regal talking about how they changed the direction they were going in and started watching more independent guys. William Regal was backstage at a PWG show and was there specifically to watch Kevin. Triple H says he remembers Kevin telling him the story about Regal watching him and he told Kevin, "Who do you think sent Regal there to watch you?" Kevin had a great match with Johnny Gargano but was only wrestling for one person that night. He took that as maybe the only chance he has to get his foot in the door at WWE. And he more than impressed Regal. He got his tryout. Kevin admits the tryout was the hardest thing he'd ever done and even started crying when he went into the bathroom because of how much pain he was in. Then he was asked to cut a promo. Standing there in a PWG t shirt, he cut a promo on his best friend, Sami Zayn. He talked about when "Sami signed the contract in front of him. And how much he hated that because he's the best in the world. And now Kevin Steen has arrived". He says he immediately knew he was signed after that promo. But, he asked Sami if they had told him this when he was signed - "Don't expect anything..." No they hadn't said that to Sami. But they had told Kevin that he "shouldn't get his hopes up for Raw and Smackdown because he's not someone Vince is looking at right now. He should concentrate on NXT and just see how it goes". Sami says it best - "look how that turned out". Kevin talks about how he got goosebumps before his first NxT match when the WWE then now forever promo video was playing whilst he stood backstage. He thought about his family at home. His dad in the crowd. Then the promo video started and he saw his face on the screen and realised "Holy Shit. This is real. It was perfect". At the end of that same show, his best friend Sami Zayn finally won the NxT championship and was congratulated by Kevin - before being turned on and attacked. Immediately he was in the main event picture, and with his longtime best friend too. He captured the title from Sami not long after in February. A month later he was at Wrestlemania as a fan and promised himself this would be the last time he'd be there as a fan. We see some great backstage footage of him talking to Hulk Hogan and The Rock and both greatly complimenting him. Triple H admits Kevin Owens probably had the shortest term in NxT. Then not long after, John Cena hand picked Kevin for the US Title open challenge and went to Vince with the idea. It was approved. Elimination Chamber. US Champion vs NXT Champion. We see amazing, touching footage of his son at home reacting to his Dad fighting John Cena. It truly puts into perspective what I said at the beginning of this - his family mean more to him than anything in his world. The reason he chose the surname Owens when it was to be changed from Steen in NxT is because his sons name is Owen. So to be that little boy watching his Dad on TV defeating John Cena at Elimination Chamber in May in his first WWE PPV match, I can't imagine how great that felt.

Owens confronting Cena on the WWE main roster
 We then see footage of him talking after the match about how it doesn't get better than that - before saying he's going to call his son. It was only a couple of months before he was a major player in the game. He won the intercontinental championship at Night of Champions in September. That started a long feud between him and Dean Ambrose over the championship. A few months go by, and it's Wrestlemania time again. We see footage of him standing in the ring before the show and reminding us what he said the year earlier - "that would be the last time ever as a fan". He was right. We see him talking backstage with some of his peers, guys he admits he looked up to as a child - Scott Hall and X Pac. And then he bumps into Stone Cold at the Gorilla position. From when he gave him advice in an airport in 2005, to giving him advice before his first ever Wrestlemania match, his career had well and truly come full circle. Sami admits standing in the middle of the ring at Wrestlemania watching his best friend walk down the ramp was unbelievable and still gets goosebumps thinking about it now. Kevin admits after that match if that would've been his last, he would've been a happy man. We then see Jimmy Jacobs talking about how his career had come full circle when he took a writing job with WWE and now works with his good friend Kevin once again. He says one reason he's as good as he is - is because nothing is ever good enough. He's always pushing for more and more and more. He wants to the best. Neville repeats the same statement, before saying he's a bit of a prick. But, outside of the ring, he's far from a prick. He's the best father and husband his family could ask for. Without them, he would be nothing. Payback 2016. Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn. One of the best matches of the year. Jimmy Jacobs admits it's one of the best matches he's ever seen live. They well and truly stole the show and both felt on top of the world. But then Summerslam was around the corner - and he was teaming with Chris Jericho against Enzo and Cass. He admits its no disrespect against them but that wasn't where he wanted to be. He felt like he deserved better and was better than that position on the card. He was right. But, as luck would prevail, Finn Balor won the first ever WWE Universal Championship pinning Seth Rollins. However he got injured during the match and had to relinquish the title. Enter Kevin Owens. It was a fatal 4 way Elimination match on Raw to determine the new champion. Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins vs Big Cass vs Kevin Owens. After Cass was eliminated, Triple H entered the ring and delivered a pedigree to Reigns, allowing Rollins to get the pin. Then, after entering the ring, he turned on Seth and delivered a pedigree to him before he and Kevin stared at one another. 1...2...3. Kevin Owens is the new champion. Kevin Owens is the chosen one. He admits that he owes literally everything to Triple H. From sending Regal to PWG to watch him. To the tryout. To giving him the opportunity in NxT. And now this. He literally handed Kevin the championship. We see footage backstage of them both embracing, before he hugs Vince McMahon, the man who at one time wasn't looking for someone like Kevin Owens.

Triple H raises Owens' hand after helping him win the Universal title
We see Sami taking about how he couldn't believe what he was seeing and had no emotion, it was only when Kevin walked through the curtain and they hugged. We see an emotional moment with Kevin's father talking about how proud he is of his son. Then we see footage of his son watching his dad win the championship and getting emotional. His dad is literally the man. Daniel Bryan talks about how he believes he's as good as he is because he never stops. He never thinks good is enough. Johnny Gargano reiterates this statement and mentions how he was 'never a WWE guy', well look at where he is now. He's the man. Neville admits if you'd have told him 10 years ago that Kevin would be WWE champion he'd have told you to go away. Triple H believes talent rises and Kevin has all the talent in the world, he just needed an opportunity. Seth says what separates Kevin from every other guy is the fans can relate to him. He's got his finger on the button at all times and Sami reiterates this too. He says Kevin always makes himself relevant and makes sure he's the best he can be. But, as it comes full circle, Kevin ends the story saying that as good as he is, he would be nothing without his wife and his kids. And as long as he's got them, then he will be fine. The Kevin Owens Story is one a lot of people can relate to. He's always been the underdog in a sense, always been backed into a corner. From being the scrawny kid looking up to Shawn Michaels doubting himself to doing 450 splashes in IWS. From Jim Cornette not believing in him and considering walking away from the business, to that PWG show with William Regal watching. From being told not to expect Raw and Smackdown and get his hopes up because he's not what Vince is looking for, to becoming the Universal Champion. Kevin Owens has fought to get where he is today, it's like Triple H said - "he has all the talent in the world, he just needed an opportunity". The match listing for this DVD is fantastic. The only downside is there couldn't be any ROH matches on here. Other than that, this is a stellar DVD. His debut match in NXT is on here against CJ Parker, which is just a generic match enabling Owens to show the NXT fans what he can do. But then there's his title victory over Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Rival and this is a great match, which should come as no surprise. His shocking debut victory over John Cena at Elimination Chamber is also on here, as well his his first Intercontinental Title win against Ryback at Night of Champions. There's a brilliant Last Man Standing match on this against Dean Ambrose from Royal Rumble 2016. However, in a match that I didn't remember but is honestly brilliant, he goes up against Dolph Ziggler on an episode of Main Event from April 2016. Definitely worth a watch! There's also another hidden treasure as KO and Triple H face off against Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose at a house show in Paris, also from April 2016. Now, this next match is KO vs Sami from Battleground which is a stunning match, make no doubt about it - but, on the documentary, Jimmy Jacobs calls the match they had at Payback one of the best he's ever seen. And it was an unbelievable match. So to exclude it from this DVD seems very odd indeed. Nevertheless, next up is the entertaining fatal 4 way match where he wins the Universal Championship which I talked about earlier. Then there is a very good Hell in a Cell match against Seth Rollins, which I consider highly underrated. Then, the final match on this DVD is his Wrestlemania 34 match against Chris Jericho. This match is very good, however I don't think they reached their potential during the in ring aspect of that feud. Finally, I have to say this is a fantastic DVD set and definitely worth the money. It follows him throughout his career and shows enough IWS and ROH footage during the documentary. Nevertheless I still would've liked to see some ROH matches on this or at least some IWS ones. Also, excluding the match at Payback against Sami seems odd but they more than make up for the match listings with the documentary side of things.

I can be contacted on twitter @jamesrussell137 with any feedback.

The DVD/Blu-Ray is available in the UK from July 3rd from WWE DVD UK

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