Welcome to the first episode of WrestleMania Rumor Mill at Entertainment Escape.

Today’s episode looks at current WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens and where the stories could be going for him between now and April 2 in Orlando for WrestleMania.

 BACKGROUND

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho have been the best of friends for months. JeriKO had been inseparable since their SummerSlam victory over Enzo and Cass with a majority of their time spent with Jericho saving Kevin Owens’ WWE Universal Championship reign through distraction tactics or blatant interference during title matches.

Not only was Owens the Universal Champion, Jericho also became United States Champion along the way, so the two of them had plenty to celebrate. This past Monday, Chris Jericho hosted the Festival of Friendship where he presented his best friend with pieces of art and a magic show. The magicians name was Friendship and he ended up going on the List of Jericho (Jericho’s list of people who wrong him) for not entertaining Kevin Owens. The segment ended with Owens presenting Jericho with his own list and Jericho realizing that his name was on it. Owens then destroyed Jericho and the friendship is assumed to be over. The segment can be seen here(part 1) and here(part 2).

With the way the Festival of Friendship has gone, I believe that it is a foregone conclusion that Kevin Owens will meet Chris Jericho one on one at WrestleMania 33. With that being said, there is still a question of whether that match will be for Owens Universal Championship, Jericho’s United States Championship, or if it will be a non-title match. Before we get to WrestleMania, the Raw brand will host the special event Fastlane live on the WWE Network on March 5. In that event, Kevin Owens is set to face Goldberg for the WWE Universal Championship. Goldberg has been at odds with Brock Lesnar since Survivor Series. Lesnar and Goldberg are already booked for a match at Wrestlemania, so both Owens and Goldberg could have their thoughts elsewhere going into their match on March 5.

How It All Could Go Down

While Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar is already scheduled, Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens still has yet to become official. The only inclination we have received thus far is the way the Festival of Friendship ended, but looking at Fastlane, I think we have a pretty good idea of how that match could go.

Goldberg has yet to really push himself as a competitor. He has appeared a couple of times since Survivor Series and he hasn’t spent more than 5 minutes in the ring total including Survivor Series. I feel like this will play into the Universal Championship match. Since both men have rivals outside of this contest, the match will more than likely end with an interference… or two.

Knowing that Goldberg will not wrestle for more than 5 minutes at a time. The match could really get going and get underway and just when someone like Goldberg gets the upper-hand, Brock Lesnar could show up and deliberately attack Goldberg. This would warrant Kevin Owens a disqualification victory, which would mean he keeps the championship while Goldberg is technically declared winner. Raw authority figures Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley have had some tension over the past few weeks, so if it is revealed that that Foley invited Lesnar to Fastlane or if Stephanie simply blames Mick for it, she could show up after the attack by Lesnar and restart the match as long as Goldberg can continue. Of course, Goldberg would be pissed and it would take more than one attack by Lesnar to keep him down, so the match gets restarted. Granted the second match probably wouldn’t last very much longer past another 5 minutes before the ref gets knocked out during an errant spear by Goldberg leading to Jericho hitting Kevin Owens with a Codebreaker or even hitting him with his United States Championship. By the time the referee or even Goldberg know what has happened, we will have a new Universal Champion.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not mention that this would not be the first time that the team of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho have pulled the wool over our eyes and tricked the WWE Universe into thinking they were falling apart only to celebrate together. While that has happened, this Festival of Friendship feels different though. Jericho genuinely felt hurt to see his name on a list. That was not just an attack. That was a personal attack. Owens not only wanted to hurt Chris Jericho physically. He wanted to hurt him personally. He wanted to hurt him emotionally. He wanted the message sent to stick in Jericho’s mind for a while. If Chris Jericho returns that pain in the form of costing Kevin Owens the Universal Championship, the pending Owens vs. Jericho match at WrestleMania could easily be for Jericho’s United States Championship.

One more rumored aspect of the Kevin Owens story is that right before the Festival of Friendship, the Prizefighter was approached by WWE COO Triple H who asked to speak with the Universal Champion privately. There are reports and rumors that this conversation could involve Triple H’s new “destroyer” Samoa Joe. The rumor states that Triple H could be putting together a new Authority stable with Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens. Some are saying that Triple H may have had Owens “sell out” his friendship to Jericho in the Festival of Friendships to receive favors, perhaps in the way of keeping his title at Fastlane against Goldberg. It was Triple H who interfered during the match in which Owens won the Universal Championship back in July, so there is reason to believe that Triple H could certainly have his eye on Owens if he were to reestablish a new Authority regime alongside Samoa Joe, the other man Triple H has been seen with on television recently.

I don’t have a problem with a new Triple H stable coming together on Raw. In fact, I embrace it – however I do not think it will be an Authority stable. I think it will be a new Evolution. Having Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens in the group could seem locked in, but I think one more spot will be filled by none other than the current NXT Champion, Bobby Roode. Roode is a man who seems like the second coming of Triple H himself. Roode is one of a few people who can snap off a quick and picture-perfect spinebuster and he carries himself with a level of pride that only Triple H has brought to the table in the past. Samoa Joe has certainly stepped up his wardrobe since aligning with Triple H on Raw. Bobby Roode already wears suits. It would be interesting to see Kevin Owens wear a suit if he were to join a new Evolution. As much as I would like to see Roode groomed as something like the next Triple H, one thing that made Evolution truly special was that Ric Flair represented the past, Triple H represented the present, and Batista and Randy Orton represented the future. While Triple H can represent the past in regards to WWE in 2017 and take the Ric Flair managerial position while also wrestling sporadically, Kevin Owens has been around for a few years but not nearly the way Triple H had established himself as the measuring stick of Raw by the time Evolution came around in 2003. All three men I have proposed for the new group have histories outside of WWE. They aren’t as fresh as a Batista or Orton in 2003 who were within their first appearances on any brand of any major wrestling promotion. Roode and Joe made their names in TNA where both men carried the world championship on at least one occasion each. Kevin Owens made his name in Ring of Honor. While all three of these men could be groomed as WWE’s future, none of them are completely fresh to the wrestling scene the way that Batista and Orton were in 2003. Maybe there is someone else we haven’t seen yet. I could see someone like Baron Corbin taking that place, but he is currently on Smackdown. Raw’s womens division holds more fresh-cut names. Maybe new Evolution doesn’t have to have the same kind of feeling that the original did. Looking at anyone on NXT who could be ready to join the main roster, the first name that comes to mind is Tye Dillinger, but his current Perfect 10 gimmick is too good and too hot right now for them to scrap it for an Evolution alignment.

One interesting consideration for a new Evolution stable is that when Triple H helped Kevin Owens win the Universal Championship in July, he exchanged a look with Stephanie McMahon that seemed to say that Stephanie and her husband Triple H are not on the same page like they have been in the past. If Triple H were to pursue a new Evolution stable, there could be something of a power coup in the works or at least a family feud between Stephanie and Triple H. On the business side of things, Stephanie has been named Chief Brand Officer of WWE. She is the face of the company and the face of the company can’t be getting booed every week. If Triple H were to establish a faction of bad guys and Stephanie were to lead a team of good guys that splits Raw right down the middle, we could be in for a McMahon-Helmsly civil war in Raw’s next long-term story arc. Dreaming of those matches really brings a smile to my face that I wish I could describe in words.

Nevertheless, I would love to see a new Evolution with Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Roode, but only time will tell whether or not Triple H’s conversation with Kevin Owens has any long-term implications. For now, the Road to Wrestlemania is heating up for Kevin Owens just as much as anyone else, and the possiblities are endless. One thing we know for sure is that the bumpiest rides are most certainly the most fun especially this time of the year.

What do you think about the potential trajectory of Kevin Owens as I have discussed it here? Will Goldberg take the Universal Title at Fastlane or will Owens retain his championship? Will Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens be for the United States Championship, Universal Championship or just will neither man have a championship by Wrestlemania? Would you like to see a new Evolution? Could Raw be brewing for a civil war? Please comment on this post or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

Next time on WrestleMania Rumor Mill, I will be looking at Smackdown’s fastest rising star, the winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 32, “The Lone Wolf” Baron Corbin.

Thanks for reading. See you next time on WrestleMania Rumor Mill.

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