Kevin Owens'?2018 came to a tough end as he underwent surgery to repair injuries to both knees, but the time off did allow the WWE superstar to recharge and spend time with family.?
Owens returned to the ring in late February after being sidelined for five months. In a bit of a chance, he was the good guy, earning cheers from fans and even becoming an honorary member of the fun-loving group The New Day.
That role didn't last long, however; Owens again showed his nefarious side by turning on WWE champion Kofi Kingston. It's all par for the course for the former universal champion, who always finds a way to have a strong, emotional connection with the audience whether he's loved or hated.?
The Quebec?native?spoke with Sporting News?a few hours before the June 18 edition of "SmackDown"?about appearing on both "Raw" and "SmackDown,"?his long friendship with Sami Zayn, dealing with social media, and more.
SPORTING NEWS: I know you're not much of a basketball fan, but any thoughts on the Toronto Raptors winning the NBA championship and what it means for Canada?
KEVIN OWENS: Yeah, I tweeted about it when they were going through the series and I heard they were doing well. I really don't watch any sports. I really have never watched basketball or anything like that. But I do like Toronto and I do like dinosaurs, so I'm pretty pumped for them.?
SN: The wild-card rule is in effect rule right now and keeping some guys busy, yourself included, being on both "Raw" and "SmackDown." You're a "SmackDown" guy and you were on "Raw" (on June 17). What are your thoughts on the wild-card rule so far, and how do you think it's been working to this point?
KO: I guess the whole point of the wild-card rule is to add a sense of unpredictability to all the shows and I guess it definitely has achieved that because you never know who is going to show up where. The wild-card rule itself was very loosely defined when it was first announced and it's been loosely enforced since it's been announced?(laughs). I guess it was supposed to be four guys at first and now, really, 10 guys show up one night, three guys show up the next night, whatever. But like I said, I think the whole point is to give a more unpredictable feel to the show itself and its definitely achieved that.
SN: Do you go into every week now assuming you'll be on both "Raw" and "SmackDown"?
KO: Yeah. It's just kind of what you have to do because and, to be fair, I would prefer being on "Raw" and "SmackDown" both just because if I'm not on "Raw" that week, I'm on the road and not working. Any day I'm away from home, I'd rather be working because spending time away from my family to do nothing is not something that jives well with me. I certainly prefer being on both "Raw" and "SmackDown" both of the same week as opposed to having the night off on Monday.
SN: You've known Sami Zayn for such a long period of time and your careers have been intertwined. What does it mean to still be working with him this closely at this point in both of your careers?
KO: Yeah, I've known him since 2002, so that's been 17 years now and we've really been joined at the hip as far as our careers go since 2004. You know, it's great because here's a guy that I've shared so much with as far as my wrestling career goes and experiences around the world. We know we can always bring the best out of each other whether that's as rivals or partners. It's always cool to see where we've come and where we started and where we are now.
SN: Considering how unique that the wrestling business is, what's it like having someone that is a good, longtime friend there with you?
KO: Yeah, we've been on the road for so long. It's great to go back and look at the experiences we've shared. Obviously, when one is not doing too well, we can try to lift each other up, and that's a positive. He's definitely the guy I'm closest with on the roster just by default because of how long we've known each other and everything we've experienced together. It's always good to have someone like that around.?
SN:?WWE Stomping Grounds is taking place on Sunday and you'll be teaming with Sami against The New Day. It wasn't too long ago where you were an honorary member of The New Day for a short period of time. What was it like to be a part of the group and show that side of your character?
KO: Yeah, it was a different side of me and I think a lot of people enjoyed it and I was having fun with it as well. I try to pride myself on being able to deliver what's needed out of me every night. That was a real departure from what I've been doing, so to be able to do it in a way where people really enjoy it was rewarding.?
SN: It's been a little while since you and Sami have teamed together. Would you like to do that more often going forward?
KO: Actually, I think he and I both were kind of looking forward to being on our own a little and that's not how it worked out. I'm always happy to team with him because of all the history we've had and it's always great to be in there with somebody you know this well, but I do think that eventually it would be nice to have some time apart and just be away from each other for a little while just to do something different, if anything.?
SN: Earlier this year, you did some videos that included your family as you were coming back from your injury. WWE has put an emphasis on how talents are their own brands and encouraged these kind of things. Have you thought about doing more videos like that or something similar on social media?
KO: Yeah, I have, but I always go back and forth on it. I've always been pretty open with my family online and on TV. Like you said, I had my son on these vignettes, stuff like that. I've always been OK with putting them out there. Well, actually, I don't even think twice about it at first because when I started talking about my family on social media, I was on the independent scene and my reach wasn't as wide as what comes with signing with WWE, obviously. I really never thought twice about it because my family is what I'm all about. Through that, I've?thought about starting a YouTube channel or just showing more of what happens on my days off or while I travel. I used to have a little video blog that I would do on the independent scene of my travels when I'd be doing independent wrestling shows.?
So, I've thought about starting something like that back up and having my family in it, obviously, but anytime I kind of convince myself to do it, to be quite honest, something happens on Twitter. I'll get a message from somebody or I'll see other people gang up on people for no reason. I'll see the troll culture that's so prevalent in this day and age and it will just completely turn me off. I just choose differently. That's kind of how it is. I go back and forth on it a lot but I ultimately don't think it's going to happen.
SN: What's the balance like with social media? There can be a lot of positives that go with it but, especially with someone as high-profile as you, there can obviously be a lot of negatives that come with it as well.
KO: Yeah, yeah, I would say there's as much positive as there is negative. It's pretty even-balanced because the positives are very strong. You know, being able to get immediate feedback on what you do and getting to see how you positively impact some people's lives through your entertainment or your work is always great, but then seeing the cesspool that our society can be because of other people and their need to try to hurt other people is just really . . . eh, it just sucks. I don't know. I certainly don't enjoy social media as much as I used to and I think that just comes along with having a broader audience and having more people being able to reach you and more people knowing who you are. I can speak from everybody — I'm sure every single person the roster would say that you attract some people that are just mean-spirited and not good people.
SN: When it comes to seeing people behind the scenes and their real lives, WWE did the "365" documentary featuring your life from SummerSlam 2016 to 2017. It was an interesting look at the highs and lows of a WWE superstar's career. How do you approach your career and stay focused when there is so much happening and anything could change at any minute?
KO: I just try to go in with the mindset of whatever I'm doing that night, whether I have a different take on things or whether I see things differently, what they're asking me to do is what I need to do and I just try to deliver it and do it as good as I can. That's really all you can do. I try to control what I can control and that's my performance and I try to do it to the best of my ability to deliver what's needed of me by the company for the well-being of the show.
SN: I know you are good friends and a mentor for Adam Cole. What's it like to see what he has done with his career, including his current time in NXT and recently becoming the NXT champion?
KO: Adam is doing great and it's very cool to see it happening. I never had any doubts. When I?first signed with WWE, I immediately told Adam to contact (NXT general manager) William Regal because I was sure that they'd have a place for him, but at the time he had literally just signed a contract with another company (Ring of Honor), so he couldn't do that. I had no doubt that it was a matter of time and it turns out I was right, and I knew once he got here, he'd do great. He's been proving me right and that just speaks to his ability. I knew he was something special from the first time we worked together on the independent scene. I attach myself to people who are as passionate as I am, and he's one of them.