Making the Case for Kevin Owens to Win WWE Championship at WWE Day 1December 25, 2021
With the Raw main-event scene lagging behind SmackDown's and the Big E title run a ho-hum affair, now might be the time for WWE to turn to a modern great. That way, the scene gets a major boost for WrestleMania season and WWE can get a second shot at retelling the Big E story on a bigger stage.
That means it's time to roll with Kevin Owens.
What, forget about Owens? The modern great who happens to be one of the first-ever universal champions? The guy who is elite on the mic, in the ring and who can nail down whatever role he needs to while making his opponents look like a million bucks?
As things stand now going into WWE's new "Day 1" event on January 1, Big E will defend his title in a fatal four-way match against Seth Rollins, Bobby Lashley and Owens.
On paper, it's easy to think WWE might just roll with Rollins and call it a day. He's the big-money name, the company rep who can garner the most interest in WrestleMania season while doing the media tours. Maybe they even get to tease a feud between Shield members with him encountering Reigns a few times.
One thing's for sure: It feels like Big E's run is in major danger. He's a beloved fan favorite, but WWE rushed his Money in the Bank briefcase cash-in, then had him squabble in things like tag feuds and even made him take a loss to Reigns at Survivor Series.
His title run has been a forgettable mess. It's no fault of his own, considering he's got the unique skillset in fall facets that could make him the company's next big thing. But maybe taking the strap off him in somewhat wonky fashion and letting him have a proper chase as a beloved underdog before a big moment can reset things to fix the unforced error.
WWE being a "moments" company dug this hole in the first place. The company wanted the moment of Big E cashing in and winning, and it got it. But it did so without a plan, hence the bad title run for a guy with so much potential.
But a moment now for Owens could fix a whole lot of problems. Besides giving Big E another chance, it would help WWE establish that this new "Day 1" event is a program that fans can't just skip. Many WWE pay-per-views have that problem nowadays: The extreme shows aren't that extreme, the table-based events work in tables for no reason, and the Hell in a Cells feel like a prop instead of something meaningful, all while nothing major seems to happen outside of the big three events each year.
Rip a major title change by crowning Owens as champ and the vibe about Day 1 changes dramatically at its debut showing. It might be the only way WWE can go to make a major splash in this manner too if there aren't any plans to have Brock Lesnar take down Reigns. That might be a smart thing to do in order to keep that feud running until Mania, but that doesn't mean WWE will do it.
As silly as this might sound, considering Owens feels like the first major name to re-up with WWE instead of jumping to All Elite Wrestling lately, there is the notion that it sends a good message about loyalty to the locker room, too.
Consider the alternatives: anyone else emerges the winner, and what happens from there? Rollins feuds with who? Lashley does what again? Big E does more of the same? The only thing WWE would have is the Royal Rumble to assist, but why lean on that as an escape plan at the last moment when one answer is so obviously staring them in the face?
Maybe more than anything else, Owens is just due. It'd be hard to find a fan, hardcore, casual, WWE-only, AEW-only or otherwise who doesn't have some affection for him. He was legendary in smaller promotions, crushed it in NXT and is a top guy in WWE with unforgettable moments, never mind the jaw-dropping potential he'd boast in a place like AEW.
Yet, Owens has just kind of been floating around both brands via drafts and not doing anything major for what feels like a few years now. That's borderline criminal given his talent and past epics (who can forget that universal title run or feud with Chris Jericho, etc.?).
There's also just the freshness factor to consider. With Big E mishandled, Rollins done a million times and Lashley a recent, albeit holdover-feeling champion, Owens is just a fresh way to go with the title scene. He's coming off an extended break, so crowning him champ to keep things entertaining while making his lone task getting Big E over properly would be a shrewd business decision.
Of course, the problem with this idea is it asks fans to trust that WWE will do the right thing after it pulls off this sort of move. It's easy to say "make Owens the big bad so that Big E can get a proper build while becoming the next major main-event player" but that doesn't mean the company that continually misfires will make it happen.
Still, even with the recent mishandling of Big E, there's hope in the form of recent blueprints. How the company handled Drew McIntyre's build against the likes of Lesnar before winning it all was brilliant. If it can reset Big E into chase mode, we've already seen Owens as the expert-talking villain who can weave in "fraud" and New Day angles into the feud while acting like a wild, violent obstacle to overcome.
This isn't an easy hill for WWE to climb. The build for Big E's match at Day 1 has been a rudderless mess where he's not even the focal point (that's part of the issue for his entire run so far). Now there are four different ways the match could go, which has only hurt the outlook.
But given Owens' Hall of Fame-worthy reputation, he's the get-out-of-jail-free card WWE can pull at pretty much any given moment. He'll turn "meh" into gold pretty quickly in a way casual and hardcore fans will appreciate.
Not only would it just be fun and refreshing to see him do his thing at the top of wrestling again, Owens is the perfect foil if WWE wants to slow-burn a guy like Big E as the fan-backed hero who needs to slowly overcome his biggest threat to reaching the top of the mountain.