We have seen Kevin Owens bear his fangs before but not quite like he did on Tuesday’s WWE SmackDown. KO looked like an absolute monster as he left WWE chairman Vince McMahon bloodied as he crushed his 72-year-old boss under his boot.
The former universal champion compelled in his role as a vicious, merciless animal on the attack.
SmackDown in Las Vegas served as a major opportunity for Owens and he nailed it. If there was any lingering doubt about whether Owens could thrive as an elite WWE heel, he smashed it with a swift headbutt on Tuesday night.
McMahon made a rare appearance on SmackDown in response to the controversy surrounding his son Shane and KO.
Last week, Shane and Owens’ animosity reached a scalding level. Still fuming about how Shane-O-Mac’s officiating twice cost him the United States Championship, The Prizefighter went in hard on the SmackDown commissioner. He told him his family would have been better off had he died in the helicopter crash in July.
Shane’s ensuing assault on Owens led to a suspension.
Vince was supposed to come in and clean up the situation. Or so we thought.
Instead, he said he thought his son didn’t beat on KO badly enough. He claimed Owens deserved what he got before booking the rivals in a Hell in a Cell match at the pay-per-view of the same name on Oct. 8.
.@shanemcmahon and @FightOwensFight will take their rivalry STRAIGHT TO HELL at @WWE #HIAC on October 8th! https://t.co/uuzVtaR8al
That enraged Owens to the point that he headbutted Vince and crashed onto him from the top rope.
Blood dripped from the chairman’s brow. Owens towered over him and snarled. The scene was perfectly unsettling and a showcase of how dangerous the villain is in this story.
Praise flooded in. WrestleView.com, for one, ranked it among the greatest endings in company history:
They are going so hard with Kevin Owens right now, one of the best endings to a #WWE TV show in years by far #SDLive
Credit Vince’s presence and star power for some of that, but Owens deserves plenty of credit. He has been tremendous during this feud with Shane, growing fiercer and nastier than he’s been at any point during his WWE tenure. That was the case again Tuesday when KO hit it out of the park with his attack.
Owens looked like he belonged on that big stage in that big moment.
And WWE putting him there in the first place is a major sign of where he sits in the company hierarchy. SmackDown is not handing out scenes like that. That was a special chance for Owens to make his mark.
As Miami Herald columnist Scott Fishman pointed out, Owens feels like a made man now:
Scott Fishman @smFISHMAN
My God…Has Kevin Owens been made or what? More than ever. I can’t get over how great that was. #WWE #SDLive
After all, Vince doesn’t often offer himself as a sacrificial lamb like that. Especially at his age (72).
The names of the wrestlers who have been allowed to get over via clobbering the chairman read like a who’s who list—Roman Reigns, Steve Austin, CM Punk, Brock Lesnar.
And Owens won’t have to wait long to build on his beatdown of Mr. McMahon. His Hell in a Cell clash with Shane will be huge for him.
The lax rules of the bout will allow him to let loose on his rival. He promises to continue his rampage inside the steel. This will be a brutal, memorable affair to remember.
And it will be one of Owens’ bigger matches, a semi-main event against a household name.
This rivalry and Tuesday’s moment of savagery specifically promises to be a launching point for Owens to send him further up the WWE mountain. Megastardom, here we come.
Austin had the famous 3:16 speech. Shawn Michaels had the barbershop attack. Years from now, we will look back at Owens devouring Vince for all the world to see as his own career-defining moment.