by Dustin Smothers (@SmoHawk)
Wrestling, for me at least, is about those moments. Those moments where everything stands still for a brief period of time. The Rock described it perfectly at Wrestlemania XXX when he stood in the ring with Hulk Hogan and Stone Cold Steve Austin. He said it was moments like that that one could literally feel, hear, taste, see and smell the electricity in the air. I was there live for that moment, and he was right. A moment like that can literally be a five senses overload.
Perhaps, for some, these moments aren’t tangibly felt unless you are live in the arena. That’s cool, I can totally get that as sometimes you’ve got to be in the moment to truly experience the sensory overload of a moment like this.
These moments can truly happen at anytime. It’s not just nostalgia moments like the aforementioned Wrestlemania XXX moment, it can be a promo on any given Monday night, just like this:
You can sit and hate on the choices and words that CM Punk has chosen over the last several years, but you can’t deny the way you felt when he delivered the “Pipe bomb” promo on John Cena six years ago.
What about when AJ Styles made his debut in the Royal Rumble and came face-to-face with the Big Dog Roman Reigns? Do you remember how the hair stood up on your arm for a few minutes? Remember how it felt like the whole world slowed to a crawl except for what was going on in the arena?
The point I’m making is that these moments can take the form of anything. They can be a perfect debut, a shocking promo, a nostalgic moment that you thought you’d never see. These moments can also be used to further advance a storyline. These are those moments when a heel does something extraordinarily heinous, or the babyface finally gets his revenge on his adversary.
While most of us are “insiders” or at least we know our shit. So we can feel these moments coming sometimes, and when certain things are announced ahead of time we can start to build anticipation for what may come to pass.
Tuesday night on Smackdown Live! we were blessed with one of those moments. Vince McMahon returned to Tuesday night’s for the first time in four years and it was with much intrigue as he was coming to address Kevin Owen’s surrounding the incident with Shane McMahon just one week earlier.
When the time came, the two met in the ring face-to-face for the first time ever. The key part here is to remember this. We already had a big moment in the fact that Vince McMahon was on television. Unless I’m forgetting something, we have not seen him in over a year on television. This in of itself was a big deal, but there was more. Kevin Owens factors heavily into the hype for this situation.
Nobody else on the main roster, nobody else from NXT, has made such an impact on the company in such little time. You can argue that Kevin Owens has been the most pushed person in the company over the last three years. He came right into the company and defeated John Cena clean in the middle. He has had several Intercontinental Championship runs, several United States Championship runs, and one run with the Universal Championship on RAW. Let’s not forget that he was positioned as Triple H’s chosen guy the night he won the Universal Championship.
So take all of that into account, and you begin to realize that Vince returning to television to interact with Kevin Owens means one thing. Vince McMahon sees money in Kevin Owens.
As the two men began exchanging verbal insults, I started to stir in my seat at home. Something big was going to happen. I started telling Alyssa to pay attention, this was going to be big. As Jim Ross might have said in the past, you could cut the tension with a knife.
After Vince talked about Owen’s having little to no luck in filing a lawsuit against WWE, stating he’s never lost a court case in his life (than why isn’t the company still called World Wrestling Federation?), Vince made a huge announcement. At Hell in a Cell, Kevin Owens would face Shane McMahon inside the demonic structure. We all remember the last time Shane was inside the Cell, right?
You could see the wheels spinning in Kevin’s head at this point, and that’s when I got really excited. Kevin agreed to the match, but wanted to make one thing clear. He wanted to ensure that he wouldn’t get fired for beating a McMahon senseless if provoked. Vince looked Kevin in the eye and gave him his word that he would not face any consequences should he beat a McMahon senseless should he be provoked. That’s when you knew it was coming.
As the two men shook on this arrangement, they lowered their mics and you could see some jaw-jacking taking place back and forth. You’re inclined to assume this is where Vince McMahon provoked Kevin Owens, and from a story-telling perspective that is fine. What I guarantee he was saying was. “Come one you son-of-a-bitch! Don’t hold back, hit me with all you’ve fucking got, pal!” Kevin was more than happy to oblige.
While I’m usually the one calling for more protection for the head in wrestling and football, in this case, I’m fine with you calling me a hypocrite if you wish. Yes, Vince McMahon is a 72 year-old man, he has been told to stop taking bumps by doctors, and this was absolutely nuts of him to do. This could have ended badly, but here’s the thing guys. It didn’t. Kevin Owens is an absolute professional, who I’m sure was more than happy to do it. Vince is a grown man, he is a billionaire, and he owns the WWE. If he wants to take an unprotected, stiff head butt from one of his main event players to help get him more over as a heel that is his prerogative. Not ours. If Vince is cool with it, and Kevin was cool with it, I’m cool with it.
As if the head butt wasn’t enough, this trickle of blood began flowing down Vince’s forehead and this my friends just became an iconic moment in WWE history. Vince would rise to his feet and take a wild swing at Owens, and Owens immediately took him down to the ground and referees and officials swarmed the ring area. Kevin would back off, the officials helped Vince to his feet and Kevin immediately hit him with a super kick.
This just went from great to amazing, this was a full out assault on the chairman of WWE by Kevin Owens. The former Kevin Steen. The guy people said would NEVER make it in the WWE, was too fat, too lazy, too indie for the big leagues. That guy just kicked Vince McMahon’s teeth down his throat in Las Vegas.
Finally Adam Pearce came running down and covered Vince McMahon’s prone body as Kevin Owen’s loomed over him, and then Kevin went for the proverbial money shot. He climbed the ropes and delivered an epic frog splash to the CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment.
Pay no attention to the fact that Scrap Daddy just got out of the way and left an elderly man to his doom, but this was officially out of hand. Kevin Owens, to my knowledge, had just committed the worst beat down of Vince McMahon we’ve seen in years. Think about the list of names of those before him who have assaulted Vince. The Rock, Stone Cold, Undertaker, Cena, Punk, Orton, Triple H. That is rarefied air if you ask me.
Following the attack, as Owens backed up the ramp in total awe of the destruction he had just caused we got one last thing to really sell this whole situation. Appearing for the first time since Wrestlemania in Orlando we got Stephanie McMahon returning to television to verbally scold Owens as she went to check on her father.
This angle this past Tuesday night permanently cemented Kevin Owen’s place in the main event scene in World Wrestling Entertainment for years to come. It’s a moment that will be played for years to come, it will be featured in video packages about the history of WWE, about the legacy of Vince McMahon and it will be looked back fondly as the moment that Kevin Owens became the real Big Dog of World Wrestling Entertainment.