Former WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens recently appeared as a guest on the Steve Austin Show Podcast and spoke about first joining WWE via their NXT brand, who he credits for WWE giving someone like him an opportunity in the first place and more.
When discussing his entry into the ranks at WWE, Owens, then known as Kevin Steen in Ring Of Honor and the various independent promotions he frequented, claimed he was told outright not to get his hopes up regarding a spot on WWE's main roster.
As Owens explained, it was Paul "Triple H" Levesque protege' and WWE's Senior Vice President of Talent Development Canyon Cemen who directly informed him that he would more than likely not be a performer that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon would gravitate towards.
"When I got to NXT, I had no idea what or who I would be really," Owens told WWE Hall Of Famer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. "I got signed, but I was never given an indication of what the plans were, if there were plans. As a matter of fact, when I got signed, Canyon Ceman, who is Triple H's kind of righthand man with recruiting talent, called me and said, 'Well, we're going to hire you, but I was told to let you know not to get your hopes up as far as RAW and SmackDown goes because, as you're aware, you're maybe not somebody who Vince McMahon would gravitate towards. But you're going to get your chance in NXT like everyone else.' And my exact words back to him were, 'Well, I look forward to the challenge' and he said, 'Well, I thought that's what you'd say.'"
Needless to say, Owens passed the challenge with flying colors. He would move onto the WWE main roster just six months after enjoying a run in NXT that included a stint as NXT World Champion and a memorable feud with longtime career rival Sami Zayn before moving into another notable program with John Cena on the main roster. From there, it wasn't long before Owens was WWE's second-ever Universal Champion on the RAW brand.
As the chat continued on, Owens spoke to Austin about the talent he credits for opening up the doors for him to have the opportunity to prove himself on the main roster the way he has. The former Universal Champion pointed to Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe as some of the talents he feels helped create the opportunity that he would ultimately seize.
"We really do have guys of all sizes, all shapes, and there [are] the cruiserweights," Owens said of WWE's current talent pool. "Everything [has] really changed in the last two years, but at that time, it still wasn't this way. There'd already been guys that, much like myself, were successful even though they weren't the kind of guys you'd expect Vince to be onboard with, like Daniel Bryan. He probably deserves a lot of credit for people like myself and Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe being here because he really broke down the barriers, almost like the fake barriers that people were putting up. Yeah, the perception. He really changed the perception."
Download the complete "Steve Austin Show" podcast featuring the new Kevin Owens interview at PodcastOne.com.