On the Ethics of Kevin Owens

I find myself with a contrary opinion in regards to the story we’re being told about Kevin Owens. I was behind him from the very first day, even as he went about putting my heartthrobs on stretchers. Here was a mercenary prizefighter, an anti-hero so strong and bold that he scorched any possibility of alliance in NXT. He doesn’t need friends, he’s confident in himself and he stands alone.

Kevin had no use for aging boy band member Alex Riley and didn’t take kindly to Riley mouthing off at him, questioning his manhood, essentially, for turning against golden boy Sami Zayn so he could forego his requisite jobber period and climb straight to the top. This is the story I read about Kevin Owens. So now that he’s champion and taking constant hassling about his ethical choices, I feel myself even more swayed to his corner. Sure he’s nervous, twitchy — there’s an implicit suggestion that it’s a liar’s pathology. But I don’t buy it. It’s a hard thing he’s doing, plowing down everybody’s darlings and taking no prisoners. You go do what you have to do to put food on the table for your wife and kids and see if it doesn’t keep you up at night biting your nails.

Professional wrestling is a cutthroat business more than we even know. CM Punk hinted to us about this. Kevin Owens is simply a character who doesn’t try to hide the reality of the world of wrestling. Remember what Vince McMahon did to Bret Hart? Remember what Triple H did to Chyna? Remember what Bill DeMott did to everybody? Here’s one to cause you cognitive dissonance: remember Paul Heyman’s business practices in ECW? Kevin Owens is right: he is doing what he has to do for his family, because backstabbing is what some guys have to do to survive in this business. I for one admire his candor.

On the same episode that puny Michael Cole really demanded answers from Kevin Owens about his betrayal of Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks compared herself to Fabulous Moolah with great pride. Moolah is perhaps the most cutthroat female wrestler of all time, am I wrong? Moolah would sell anybody out, and we appreciate Sasha Banks’ mean girl heel aesthetic based on Moolah’s approach. Yet Kevin Owens has been constantly criticized by men who couldn’t shine his shoes. It seems like women are given carte blanche to be bitches in this era of wrestling, whereas a guy who’s a mean bastard gets no respect at all.

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