On the latest episode of Monday Night Raw, WWE Intercontinental champion Kevin Owens learned he will be defending his title in a 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania 32 inside AT&T Stadium on April 3.
We talked to Owens about that match, his rivalry with Sami Zayn, and what he's most looking forward to come WrestleMania Week in Dallas...
Now that the plan is in place for the Intercontinental title, what are you expecting out of the 7-man ladder match at WrestleMania?
Owens: I'm expecting it to be pretty crazy, pretty special, it's WrestleMania so obviously everybody is looking forward to putting on a show that people will remember. It's my first WrestleMania, so you can bet that I'm looking forward to doing the same. I feel bad for those poor saps that are going to be in there with me because being in there with Kevin Owens is bad enough. Being in there with Kevin Owens and ladders is going to make for a bad night for sure.
Included in that match is someone you're slightly familiar with, Sami Zayn. What is it like to have someone with a career that's been so intertwined with yours come together in the same match at WrestleMania?
Owens: As heated as our rivalry has been since I came to the WWE, it does make things pretty special. It puts things in perspective. In 2005, let's say, or as far back as 2003, or as recently as 2008, we were wrestling on any given night, in any of those years, in any of that timeframe - up until really two, three years ago - we might be teaming or wrestling each other in front of 50-100 people in a bar or a bingo hall or anything like that. So, to have our first WrestleMania in the same match, in the same ring, at the same time definitely makes things very special. Absolutely.
Which 'Mania match, besides yours, are you looking forward to the most?
Owens: There's so many unique matches - Undertaker, Shane McMahon, Hell in a Cell - there's so many questions, and we'll only get the answers by watching that match. I'm pretty excited for Triple H vs. Roman Reigns after the last few weeks, and everything they've put each other through. And, you know, seeing Brock Lesnar destroy Dean Ambrose is obviously something I'll be very interested in. It's going to be a great show, the biggest WrestleMania of all-time, and it makes sense for it to be the biggest of all-time because it's my first, so how could it not be?
Expectations for NXT TakeOver: Dallas?
Owens: Anybody who's familiar with NXT, especially the TakeOver specials - I don't think I need to say that it's going to be a great show because everyone knows. I'm going to be there. Part of why I'm so excited for WrestleMania Week is because I'm going to get to go and watch that NXT show as a fan. I won't be participating, I'll be watching. Shinsuke Nakamura is making his debut, and that's huge, those of you who aren't familiar with Shinsuke Nakamura get ready to see something very unique. He's one of the best all-around performers I've ever been in the ring with, and I'm very excited to see what he does in NXT. Obviously, Finn Balor and Samoa Joe have put on great matches against each other in the past. They're going to do it again in Dallas. It's going to be great to be able to sit back and watch all the action. I think I'm as excited for that as everybody else in the WWE Universe.
Which wrestlers inspired you growing up?
Owens: Shawn Michaels is the reason I became a professional wrestler in the first place. I saw his match at WrestleMania XI, and that made me want to be a wrestler. Later on, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin, as cliché as it sounds, I want to say at one point I was the biggest 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin fan in the world. My room was plastered from floor to ceiling with posters. I was all about 'Stone Cold.' And so many others influenced me in one way or another throughout the years. I was a huge WWE fan, always have been, still am. I'm a part of WWE so it just makes things even more surreal. The Rock, Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, so many people I could mention as far as who influenced me, but definitely the top of the list would be Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin.
Are you a fan of other sports, play any sports growing up?
Owens: I've actually watch zero minutes of sports every year. I don't pay any attention whatsoever to any sports. The reason for that is as soon as I discovered WWE - you know, I was playing hockey as a kid, baseball, soccer, stuff like that - but when I discovered a wrestling school that was willing to train me at 14, I just dropped everything else and focused 100 percent of my energy on professional wrestling, and it worked out. Throughout the years, I never picked up sports again, I never watched sports. I'm all about professional wrestling.
On his past experiences wrestling in Texas...
Owens: I did win my first Intercontinental title in Houston, which isn't too far from Dallas. Throughout my time on the independent scene I did have some special moments in San Antonio, stuff like that. So, Texas has been a good stage for me as far as my career is concerned, and now Dallas - it's my first WrestleMania so obviously that's going to pan out, as well - the Texas state itself has been good to me, but I think Dallas is going to take the cake.