What appeared to be another U.S. open challenge suddenly turned into a much more exciting affair as the guitar riffs of the CFO$ song, “Fight”, coursed through the sound system of the Richmond Coliseum. For some, it was an audible invasion of the unknown. For others, it was familiarity at its finest as Kevin Owens unexpectedly emerged on Monday Night Raw.
In WWE, throwing the U.S. title on the ground and stomping on it is the theatrical equivalent of desecrating the American flag. That wouldn’t have been the case several months ago as the irrelevant state of the championship wouldn’t even merit such attention. However, John Cena’s current reign as champion has augmented the coveted nature of this prize.
Owens with his arrogant swagger made an inedible impression in his first dance on the main stage. Demeaning the audience while appraising the veteran Cena of his own industry tenure conveyed his dastardly persona and combative credibility.
A blindside kick to the midsection followed by a pop-up power bomb laid out Cena to the shock of some, and to the delight of others. Then, Kevin Owens spit in the face of everything John Cena has accomplished since WrestleMania with the dropping and stomping of a Star-Spangled trophy.
In today’s wrestling landscape where feuds and programs are booked with little build and end too quickly to resonate, WWE got this one right. Owens’ debut was a triple crown success as tomorrow evening’s NXT TakeOver, as well as Elimination Chamber in under two weeks, have garnered even more intrigue than before.
Plus a headlining match with John Cena along with the on screen endorsement from Triple H is only going to raise Owen’s stock regardless of the end result.
3.99 million viewers watched Raw – which makes this the highest rated episode in four weeks. While there was other worthwhile content on the show, the television ratings may very well mirror the finished product of last night’s shocking appearance.
No matter how much credit Owens/Cena deserves for the improved rating, one thing that can’t be denied is that another hurdle was passed in the form of the live crowd. Unlike Sami Zayn, Owens didn’t have the benefit of debuting in his home town.
Richmond, Virginia provided no cushion for the NXT champion as he walked into the arena with a tepid response and exited with the crowd chanting “Fight, Owens, Fight.”