The right adversary changes everything as we're seeing during the increasingly personal rivalry between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon.
As KO has bickered and brawled with the WWE SmackDown commissioner, he has found the ideal stage for his arrogance and heartlessness. While some of Owens' feuds haven't clicked or allowed him to shine as a top-flight heel, his developing feud with McMahon is already white hot.
First off, there is a strong logical foundation for Owens' issues with his boss.
In two consecutive matches, McMahon's officiating directly affected Owens' chances in United States Championship matches. At SummerSlam, Shane-O-Mac was out of position to count a pinfall after getting clobbered during the action. On SmackDown, McMahon inserted himself into KO's match with AJ Styles, replacing Baron Corbin and costing the challenger by way of distraction.
So when Owens confronted McMahon over the past few weeks, griping about a conspiracy, his motivations made perfect sense.
As this situation has progressed, Owens has grown more incensed and more paranoid. An angry, pushed-into-a-corner KO is a sight to behold.
Forget the jokester who roamed Raw for much of last year, this is a nastier, more compelling version of the powerhouse.
On Tuesday's SmackDown, Owens crossed paths with McMahon once more and sliced him open verbally. He badmouthed his kids before telling him it would have been better if he had died in the helicopter crash he was in earlier this year.
Owens was especially cold here and particularly petulant in the aftermath of McMahon attacking him. He threatened to sue the entire McMahon family, to rip the SmackDown show from their hands and make it his.
All of this has featured excellent acting from Owens.
Bryan Alvarez of Figure Four Online praised both KO and McMahon for their work in their Tuesday night collision:
Jake Barnett of ProWrestling.net had great things to say about KO, as well. He wrote: "Owens is one of the best trash talkers in the wrestling industry, and he was on fire with his delivery here."
The Prizefighter has clashed with all-time greats John Cena, AJ Styles and Chris Jericho, but a 40-something, sometimes wrestler is proving to be his best nemesis, the man able to draw out the ultimate version of Owens.
Perhaps it's because an honorable authority figure is the perfect foil for an irreverent, unfeeling egotist. Maybe Owens has simply sharpened his skills to its finest point yet. Whatever the reason, KO has enthralled against McMahon more than he has in WWE to date.
And now a battle is on the horizon.
There is no official bout yet, but it's clear the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view in October will feature those two tearing at each other's throats.
The intensity of their rivalry suggests they will clash in the Hell in a Cell structure.
McMahon surely won't give Owens the type of quality match Roman Reigns and Styles gave him, but their battle is sure to be overflowing with emotion. The commissioner will play the family man and executive fighting for honor. And the sadistic villain Owens will be there to oppose him.
It's going to be grade-A theater and surely one of KO's career highlights.