Few Superstars in WWE history have managed to come into the company and make as big a splash as Kevin Owens. From his infamous turn on Sami Zayn on his first night in NXT, to his confrontation of John Cena on his first night on Raw, and subsequent clean win over Cena at the following PPV, Owens has a knack for making an impact. Given his prolific career on the independent scene prior to his arrival in WWE I was very curious to see how this profile piece from WWE was played, and lo and behold the company have gone with an in-depth, thorough history of Owens, and Sami Zayn, because their careers are pretty much intertwined.
ROH. PWG. CZW. These are not acronyms you normally hear thrown around on WWE home video releases, but the majority of the documentary portion of this Blu-ray is really a showcase for the period of Kevin Owens career when he went by the name of Kevin Steen. I was genuinely surprised by the volume of footage used from other companies, including footage of Sami Zayn under the mask of El Generico. It certainly helps that many of Owens' peers form his time in ROH like Zayn, Steve Corino, Jimmy Jacobs, and Seth Rollins are all in the company and able to offer insight on that period of his career. This also gives this release a much more authentic feel than the usual WWE fare because it has clearly been made for a very specific market segment, the hardcore indie fan. As seen with the CWC, NXT, and even the WWE UK Tournament this portion of fans have their place and are a key part of the revenue generating machine for WWE, which makes sense. Had The Miz, Titus O'Neill, David Otunga and the usual suspects who frequently offer talking heads for Blu-ray releases been present here it would have taken the edge off this, and you have to hand it to the production team for crafting something really different here. The one drawback of course is that much of the story becomes increasingly about the relationship of Owens and Zayn, and in many ways this begins to feel like a joint profile rather than one of just Owens, but it is hard to argue that it takes anything away from the overall impact. The footage from his time at the performance centre and the story about watching Wrestlemania as a fan in 2015 are really telling and give a real insight into the genuine struggle Owens has been through in his career.
Some of my favourite scenes in the documentary portion come with Owens interacting out-of-character with his family, and with various legends backstage at Wrestlemania. Ever since I heard his description of himself as a "zoo enthusiast" on Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast a few years back, I've taken a liking to Owens as a person, and here are further examples of the man himself outside of the snarky character he plays on television. He comes across as a loving father and husband, but also a man who is really grateful for what he has in his life, even if he is also aware of everything he’s fought and sacrificed to get to that point. It has certainly given me a new appreciation for Owens work in the ring, as well as his always excellent skills on the microphone.
The match selection is, of course, amazing. Owens shows his versatility with cracking matches against John Cena, Ryback, Dean Ambrose, Sami Zayn, and many others. However, we also get a few unseen and expected gems including Owens tagging alongside Triple H against Sami Zayn and Dean Ambrose, It really is a fine selection and a great showcase for Owens' run in WWE so far.
This is probably one of the best documentaries WWE have released in a number of years. Owens comes across really well and his story of making it to the top despite plenty of roadblocks along the way is really inspiring. If you are a fan of WWE, but also if you are a fan of ROH or indie wrestling this is definitely going to be a release that will be worth checking out.
EXTRAS: There is a decent amount here in terms of extras, including lots of interesting snippets with Owens discussing a variety of subjects, as well as a selection of extra matches from NXT and Raw including a cracker against Neville, a very serviceable affair with Roman Reigns, and entertaining bouts with Rollins and Zayn. A decent selection overall.