The main event of Clash Of Champions will feature two of the most talented wrestlers the WWE have ever had. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins are guaranteed to light up the show with their high paced action and energy and they will bring the fight out of each other. However even with similar career paths, this match didn’t seem possible just 3 years ago when Kevin was still on the independent scene and Seth was the arrogant golden child of The Authority. Flash forward to now, September 25th, 2016, and both men have completely reinvented themselves not just for the main event of Clash Of Champions, but for the future of their careers and for the future of the WWE.
Seth Rollins has had a very successful career. Growing up in the small town of Buffalo, Iowa, their wasn’t much activity for him so when he learned about professional wrestling, he knew right away that is what he wanted to do. Seth started to train at the age of 14 and started backyard wrestling on a trampoline with his neighborhood friends which convinced him that he had no interest in going to college and all he wanted to do was become a professional wrestler. So he did. At the age of 17, under the ring name Gixx, Seth wrestled his first ever match in Scott County Wrestling (SCW) in 2003. Seth would go on to win the SCW Heavyweight Championship and infamously spray paint the belt black to symbolize “The Black Era” in reference to his new ring name, Tyler Black.
Tyler Black would go on to wrestle for many different promotions and face many of the industry’s top guys such as the current WWE World Champion, AJ Styles who after their match grabbed a microphone and called Black, “The future of our business”. Styles was not wrong as Tyler Black made his Ring Of Honor debut in 2007 in a controversial segment where Black, Jimmy Jacobs, and Necro Butcher attacked The Briscoe Brothers and hung Jay Briscoe from the rigging that had been used during the ladder match earlier that night. The three men announced they would be called “The Age of the Fall”. Black and Jacobs would continue on as a tag team in ROH and Black would have his first taste of true success when him and Jacobs defeated The Briscoe Brothers at Final Battle in 2007 to win the ROH World Tag Team Championships. Black was really starting to get white hot so when him and Jacobs lost the Tag Team titles just a month later, Jacobs turned on Black which opened a door leading to a whole new world of opportunity’s for the future WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
Tyler Black was officially a singles competitor and he immediately had his eyes on the ROH World Championship. Black defeated Kenny King in a first round match and then Claudio Castagnoli, Colt Cabana, Delirious, Chris Hero and Roderick Strong in the finals to win the 2009 Survival of the Fittest tournament, which earned Black a ROH World Championship match against then champion, and now WWE superstar, Austin Aries. Black would face Aries at Final Battle 2009 but would lose after reaching the 60 minute time limit. However, he would get a rematch for the title at the company’s eighth anniversary show. Black would go on to win the title after pinning Aries and would go on to hold the title for 210 days and having seven successful title defenses before losing it to Roderick Strong. Black signed with WWEs developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW) during his run in ROH which caused outrage among fans in which they would call him a “sell out” for signing with WWE. Black threatened to take the title to WWE, similar to what CM Punk did during his time in ROH. After losing the title to Strong, Black would go on to WWE and become the man (no pun intended) who he is today, Seth Rollins.
During Black’s run as ROH World Champion, one of his seven title defenses included a very high energy, very bloody, epic match with his opponent for Clash Of Champions, Kevin Owens. Going by the ring name Kevin Steen, before wrestling was even a choice, Kevin was just a kid from Canada.
Kevin Steen was born in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and was raised in Marieville, Quebec. Kevin was always an athlete. He played hockey, soccer, and baseball but never wanted to pursue those as a career and when he watched a VHS tape of Shawn Michaels vs Diesel at WrestleMania XI with his father, he knew right away that professional wrestling is what he wanted to do. Sound familiar? Kevin started training for professional wrestling at the age of 14, the same age as Seth Rollins. Steen had his very first match on his 16th birthday in L’Assomption, Quebec on May 7, 2000. Steen would go on to wrestle for main Canadian wrestling promotions before wrestling in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW). Kevin went on to face many different opponents such as Chris Sabin, Super Dragon, and El Generico who we know now as Sami Zayn, Steen’s best friend and greatest rival. Steen would win his first championship in CZW by winning the CZW Iron Man Championship and would go on to hold it for 364 days, one day shy of one year. CZW was just a stepping stone for Steen as he would go on to Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) to find even more success while facing one of the very best, the same man who Seth Rollins once faced early in his career, AJ Styles.
Kevin Steen was always destined to be a world champion and he showed that on August 6th, 2005 when he defeated the current WWE World Champion for the PWG Championship. Steen would go on to hold that title for nearly four montsh before losing it due to interference from Super Dragon, one of his long time rivals. Steen’s stock started to truly rise when he started to team up with El Generico, or Sami Zayn, as they started to pursue the PWG World Tag Team Championships in 2006. Steen and Generico would win the titles from the team of PAC and Roderick Strong and go on to hold them for nearly three months before losing them to Davey Richards and, no surprise here, Super Dragon. Steen dropping the tag team titles asn’t without reason. As Steen’s stock on the independent scene was starting to rise, Ring Of Honor came knocking on his door. Now many independent wrestlers will perform for multiple company’s at a time but Steen was not allowed to wrestle for PWG and ROH at the same time so he did the logical and smart thing and went to ROH for the extra exposure. I can’t even imagine what would’ve happened if Steen stayed in PWG.
As Kevin Steen left PWG to work for ROH, El Generico was also a member of ROH so immediately they continued where they left off at PWG, as a tag team. However this wasn’t your ordinary tag team as Generico was the babyface and Steen was a heel the that is that made them click not only as a team, but as best friends. Kevin Owens and El Generico would quickly chase after the ROH World Tag Team Championships against the Briscoe Brothers but they would lose match after match after match against the champions. Steen and Generico’s moment of glory finally came on September 19th, 2008 in Boston Massachusetts when Steen and Generico defeated The Age Of The Fall, whcih included none other than Tyler Black, for the ROH World Tag Team Championships. Their run as champions would last until April 10th, 2009 when they lost the titles to The American Wolves.
Steen and Generico were always destined to face each other at some point. They were always destined to break up at one point or another. The day is September 19th, 2009 at a ROH Pay-Per View event, Final Battle 2009, and after the two men lost to the Young Bucks, Steen would turn on his longtime tag team partner and best friend and beginning a year long feud which would be voted the “best feud of the year” by Wrestler Observer Newsletter. The feud included many matches with their new partners, Colt Cabana with El Generico and Steve Corino with Kevin Steen. But the ultimate battle was the match to finally put the feud to rest. On December 18 at Final Battle 2010, Steen and Generico fought in an unsanctioned Fight Without Honor match where Steen put his ROH career on the line and Generico put his mask on the line. Steen decided to have Generico take the win due to two main reasons. The first was Steen thought Generico would be used as a top guy afterwards and the second was backstage management did not believe in him. Jim Cornette, who has always been critical of Kevin, didn’t care much for either men and lack of cooperation led Steen out of ROH as he didn’t want to deal with the frustration Cornette was forcing. However, Cornette probably did the right thing as Steen would not be where he is today.
Steen would continue wrestling on the independent scene while forming a stable called S.C.U.M with his new partner, Steve Corino. Steen would eventually return to ROH while also bringing the stable with him, causing chaos in the company. The stable would eventually turn on Steen as his contract was coming to an end and his final ROH match was against Steve Corino on July 19th, which he would win.
August 12th, 2014. The date of the announcement that WWE had signed Kevin Steen to their developmental brand, NXT. Now as Steen was just getting signed to the WWE, Tyler Black has been making his mark in the WWE as Seth Rollins.
Tyler Black had reinvented himself into Seth Rollins. Rollins went into Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), now NXT, with the confidence that he would be a champion in WWE one day. And he would as he defeated Leo Kruger in the dying days of FCW for the FCW Florida Heavyweight Championship. But his true coming out was when FCW became NXT. Seth Rollins competed in the Gold Rush tournament to crown the first ever NXT champion. Rollins would defeat Drew McIntyre in the quarterfinals, Michael McGillicutty in the semi-finals and then he would go on to defeat Jinder Mahal in the finals to become the first ever NXT champion. Rollins earned the praise of his mentor Triple H and the heart and soul of NXT, Dusty Rhodes. Rollins would go on to have a very successful reign as he defeated McGillicutty and then Jinder Mahal in his first two title defenses. Rollins would go on to defeat Corey Graves in another successful title defense but would eventually lose it to Big E Langston to end his reign. Many people felt like Rollins wouldn’t go anywhere in the company after losing the NXT Championship, but those people were very wrong as Rollins would have one of the biggest impacts on the main roster in WWE history.
There was once three very talented guys who made their debut at Survivor Series in 2012. I forgot what they were called. I think maybe The Shield? The main event of Survivor Series in 2012 was CM Punk defending the WWE championship against John Cena and Ryback in a triple threat match in where they helped CM Punk win by putting Ryback through a table and having Punk pin Cena. The trio declared themselves as The Shield who will stop the injustice in WWE. It was one of the biggest debuts in WWE history as it’s impact would shape the future of what the WWE is today. The Shield were dominant. They would go on and face many teams composed of guys like Daniel Bryan, Kane, Ryback, Sheamus, Randy Orton, The Undertaker, and many more. No one could stop The Shield. It was at Extreme Rules 2013 where all the gold went to the Shield. Dean Ambrose won the United States Championship and Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns won the Tag Team Championships. It was Rollins’ first taste of WWE gold and he wasn’t going to stop there. The Shield were red hot going into 2014 as they were newly turned babyfaces in a feud with Kane, Triple H, and all the other authority figures and they walked out of WrestleMania 30 victorious over Kane and The New Age Outlaws. No one could stop The Shield. The trio was then put in a feud with the reformed Evolution (Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton) and would feud with them through Extreme Rules and Payback2014. The Shield defeated Evolution both times and looked completely unstoppable and like I’ve said twice now, no one could stop The Shield…unless it was one of their own.
The RAW after Payback was crucial. Batista had just quit WWE and Triple H needed a “plan B”. That was the night the WWE Universe stood still as Seth Rollins took a steel chair to his Shield brothers and turning on them to join the Authority. Seth Rollins siding with Triple H and turning on The Shield is still one of the most shocking moments in WWE history if not the most shocking. The trio was red hot and were unstoppable and to have them break up at that time was just too perfect. Rollins went on to have a stellar feud with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns and would go on to win the Money In The Bank ladder match which guaranteed him a world championship match. As Rollins was getting situated with his new character and life with The Authority, Kevin Steen was getting situated down in NXT.
Kevin Steen would now be called Kevin Owens in tribute to his son Owen. After announcing that Owens signed with WWE, fans eagerly waited for his debut and man was it worth it. Debuting on December 11th at NXT Takeover: R Evolution, Owens defeated CJ Parker in his very first match with NXT. It wasn’t until later that night where his impact was issued in a strong way. Owens’ best friend, Sami Zayn (formerly El Generico), was facing Adrian Neville for the NXT Championship and would win the title in a avery emotional match. Owens would come down to the ring to celebrate with Zayn by hugging him and raising his arm. As both men walked back up the ramp, Owens snapped. He turned on Zayn once again and powerbombed him on the apron making his intentions very clear. He wanted the NXT Championship. Owens would get his match at NXT TakeOver: Rival and utterly destroyed Sami Zayn to the point where he could not continue. Owens would win the title due to referee stoppage. Owens would go on to defend the title on March 25th against Finn Balor and retaining. And it was only four days later at WrestleMania 31 where a new WWE World Heavyweight Champion would be crowned in the name of Seth Rollins.
March 29th, 2015. It is Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. In a brutal match, Reigns and Lesnar kick the tar out of each other and as it looks like Brock would get the win, both men are tired, groggy, and both lying down. Then all you can hear is Seth Rollins’ music play and all you can see is him running down the ramp full speed. Everyone knows what he is planning as he cashes in his Money In The Bank contract to make the match a triple threat. As Rollins is about to get an F5 from Lesnar, Reigns spears The Beast which allows Rollins to Curb Stomp Reigns and pin him giving him the win, the Championship, and as Michael Cole said, “the heist of the century!”. Rollins was WWE World Heavyweight Champion. The former Tyler Black reached his life long dream and was finally at the top of the mountain. And as for Kevin Owens, he was just getting started on the main roster.
Kevin Owens made his main roster debut on May 18th, 2015 in confronting John Cena. Owens was still the NXT champion at the time so it was a very interesting scenario. owens challenged Cena to a match at the Elimination Chamber which he would go on to win to the shock of many fans but would lose the next two matches with Cena at Money In The Bank and Battleground (typical). Owens would lose the NXT championship to Finn Balor at The Beast In The East special and would then lose his rematch at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in his last NXT appearance. Owens was officially on the main roster and he would quickly make his impact felt as he defeated Ryback at Night Of Champions for the Intercontinental Championship becoming the first ever French-Canadian to win the title. Owens would go on to compete in the tournament to find the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion after the tragic injury to then champion, Seth Rollins.
We all know the story by now. Seth Rollins was defending his title against Kane during a house show in Dublin, Ireland where he tore his ACL after attempting the turnbuckle powerbomb. It was a devastating loss as the roster was already thin due to injuries and to lose the top guy was just brutal. Rollins was forced to vacate the championship and would miss WrestleMania 32 in the process. Over the next few months after Rollins’ injury, Roman Reigns was put as the next top guy in the company. Roman would win the title at Survivor Series but then lose it after Sheamus cashed in Money In The Bank. Roman would regain it about a month later, lose it to Triple H at the Royal Rumble, and then regain it at WrestleMania 32. Rollins seemed to be a forgotten soul in the WWE but as for Kevin Owens, his rise to the gold began on the Grandest Stage Of Them All.
Kevin Owens would lose his Intercontinental Championship to Zack Ryder in the six man ladder match at WrestleMania 32. He would go on to blame his long time rival, Sami Zayn, for his losses and they would face off multiple times over the next few months. Kevin Owens would defeat Sami Zayn at Payback in an instant classic but thier feud would not stop there. Both men would get involved in each others matches and both men would be involved in the Intercontinental Championship match at Extreme Rules which Owens would blame Zayn again for making him lose. Both men would be involved in the Money In The Bank ladder match with Owens and Zayn taking each other out to prohibit each other from grabbing the briefcase. The feud with Owens and Zayn would come to an end at Battleground. It would be their final battle and what was a very emotional match that told a story and had fans at the edge of their seats. Sami Zayn would come out on top after taking down his greatest foe in what is for me the Match Of The Year. The loss for Kevin didn’t slow him down but gave him even more momentum. The loss allowed Owens to break free from Sami Zayn and go after his next target. The new WWE Universal Championship.
During the height of Owens’ momentum, a certain someone returned from injury and set their sights on the WWE World Championship. That mans name? Seth Rollins. As Rollins returned, he attacked Roman Reigns and immediately wanted the WWE World Championship back around his waist. Seth would get his match at Money In The Bank and shockingly win the championship before Dean Ambrose cashed in the Money In The Bank contract Ambrose had won earlier in the night. Ambrose would win the championship and go on to Battleground to retain against both Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. Rollins’ chance at WWE gold didn’t stop there. After the WWE draft that saw Rollins get drafted to RAW and the champion Dean Ambrose to Smackdown, RAW needed a champion. Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley annpunced the new championship for RAW, The WWE Universal Championship. Seth Rollins was put in the match for the title at Summerslam with his opponent being Finn Balor. Seth went into Summerslam with a chip on his shoulder. With the match being his third world title match in a row, he needed to win. But he didn’t. Finn Balor shocked the world by pinning Seth Rollins and becoming the first ever WWE Universal Champion. However, maybe it was fate for Rollins to get another chance at the gold as Finn Balor was forced to vacate the title 24 hours later after suffering a torn labrum in the match at Summerslam. Seth was on the verge once again from becoming the top guy in WWE. But someone had a different idea. Someone who knows how to play the game.
The date is August 29th, 2016. A fatal four way match for the vacant WWE Universal Championship. Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens vs Roman Reigns vs Big Cass. In a match to decide the new champion, Big Cass would be eliminated first by Owens and left the three top guys of RAW. In a back and forth thriller, Roman quickly took advantage and looked as if he would be walking out with the gold. That was until Triple H returned and pedigreed Roman and had Seth pin him. It was an absolute shocker of a return as we hadn’t seen Triple H in months and it looked as if Rollins would finally reclaim the gold. But all relationships don’t last. Triple H looked as if he would pedigree Kevin Owens and help Rollins win but that all changed when Triple H turned on Rollins and pedigreed him which allowed Owens to cover Rollins and become the new WWE Universal Champion. In what is one of the loudest reactions ever, the crowd was stunned as was Owens. Seth had just been screwed once again and all his hard work, all his dedication, all of it was forgotten by Triple H as he screwed Rollins of winning the title. As for Kevin Owens however, it was a new era. A new chapter. It was and is officially the Kevin Owens Show.
And the rest is history. Seth would attack Owens next week and he would receive a title match at Clash Of Champions. Everything these two men have done, working on the independent scene, paying their dues in NXT, working their way up the ladder on the main roster, and becoming the top guy in the WWE, all of it has led to this one match, this one moment. This isn’t just another match. This is Tyler Black vs Kevin Steen. This is Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens and not only is it for the WWE Universal Championship, but it is for the future of WWE and either way, the future is in good hands.
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Author: Caden Moran