Image courtesy: WWE
Kevin Owens is a polarising figure. Like him or hate him, chances are you have an opinion. Every generation of wrestling that ushers in a new age with one such as Owens; a wrestler that reflects the climate of sports-entertainment.
Enter the Meta era. We live in a disillusioned world, where information is becoming ever more cheap and accessible. With this ever-increasing access, there grows a sense of disillusionment. It feels that the world is less magical and mysterious, somehow less special then previous generations remember it. This is especially true in our media. Everyone “knows” what’s going to happen, there are no surprises in entertainment, unless they are brutal and unneeded. Betrayals and twists are met with berating groans and yawns. Events that should be crushing and unexpected are spoiled on “dirt sheets”, much to no one’s amazement.
Returning to Kevin Owens, a product of independent wrestling. Kevin honed his craft in front of audiences that expect the unexpected, to be wowed in every match. They demand to be shown something unique and spectacular with each event, and are quick to heckle should a match be sub-par. Learning how to play on the expectations of the audience is an essential skill, one necessary to survive the harsh fickleness of the fan base. Kevin Owens is nothing, if not knowledgeable of this environment. By playing basic underdog archetype, Owens takes a normally face role and turns it on his head. Though he whines like a heel, demanding to be idolized and appreciated for his talent, he is also capable of showcasing his skill in the ring. When he puts on a strong showing and receives the respect of his opponents, he feigns sportsmanship for an opportunity at a low blow.
Owens walks the path of being a potential fan favourite and a top heel in the business. He does this by playing on audience expectation. Though a consistent heel, his prods and referential stabs at wrestling tropes and history make him humorous and fun, almost as if playing a sarcastic jester, mocking his craft in a loving fashion. Of course, he’s also the type that you wouldn’t tell him so to his face.
The real Owens charm stems from how thorough he is at being pompous and arrogant, almost as if lampooning the Mr. Perfect archetype of being the self-proclaimed epitome of wrestling. His dismissive holier-than-thou air of self-importance oozes the belief that he is better than everyone, like a bored King no longer amused with conquest. He mirrors the modern jaded crowd, unimpressed with the industry, demanding more for his time, and unafraid to do what he must to attain this. He is motivated to fight only to prove his mastery over the industry, chuckling over his victories with a condescending “I told you so.”
Yet, he is also a man that mocks heroic values, while at the same time claiming to embody them, twisting traditional values as a means to showcase the absurdity of our conflicting values. He claims to be a family man, doing what he can to ensure the future of his loved ones, yet constantly does what he can to undermine the morality and values of his peers. He mocks traditional values, such as honour, by deliberately choosing the cheap shot over the handshake, all the while laughing at the impact of his actions. In this sense, he is more true to today’s “play to win” attitude, where one parrots values of yesteryear, while holding a knife behind their back, waiting for the next stepping stone.
Kevin Owens serves as a mirror, mocking us for the people that we have become, making light of our contradictions, all the while continuing to contribute to the medium we refuse to admit we love, for all its absurdity.
Video courtesy: WWE
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