The rivalry between Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins will be renewed Monday as the two clash in a featured match on WWE Raw (8 p.m. ET, USA Network). Owens has inserted himself into Rollins' current issues with Rey Mysterio, sitting on the fringe of the rivalry, a step back from WrestleMania 36 just a few months back where Owens defeated Rollins in a bout that finally gave Owens his true "WrestleMania moment."
But the history between the two goes back more than a decade. The first singles match between Owens and Rollins came in 2006 when Rollins beat Owens on an IWA: Mid-South show in Streamwood, Illinois. They have since shared the ring -- either as opponents or teammates -- more than 100 times across promotions and continents.
It's a history that, as Owens told CBS Sports, "is good all around."
"I mean, if I were to be able to choose, I'd love for Seth to still be doing the entrance he did at that IWA: Mid-South show where he would do the headbanging to his music. I attacked him during the entrance while he was doing the headbanging and he was distracted. That makes the matches a lot easier if you get a shot in early. He doesn't do that anymore; I guess he's gotten wiser as time has gone on.
"Obviously, we've been doing this for quite a while and have faced off in a lot of different settings and in front of a lot of different crowds, with these last few at WrestleMania and Monday coming up, there's not too many people in the building, which is reminiscent of the IWA: Mid-South days. One thing that's a constant is that we bring out the best in each other. I'm always happy to get in the ring with him and get to do this. I think we always have matches that people walk away from saying they really enjoyed and had a good time watching what we do. That's kind of what I'm always looking for and he's a lot of fun to punch in the face. It's good all around."
The WrestleMania 36 clash between the two featured Owens diving off the WrestleMania sign to drive Rollins through an announce table. It was one of several big moments for Owens in the match as he ultimately emerged on top in the feud and seemed poised for big things coming out of WWE's flagship event.
But Owens' momentum was halted due to an injury suffered in the match, putting the former universal champion on the shelf while Rollins has been performing some of his most interesting character work in years during his feud with Mysterio. It wasn't the first time in Owens' career, where circumstances beyond his control have derailed larger plans after big moments. However, Owens said he's in no rush to see his career take a huge leap and intends to continue forward for many years to come.
"I feel fine, you know?" Owens said. "I've had so many big moments in WWE where the follow-through wasn't what people would have expected. I think, eventually, there's going to be a big breakthrough, or I hope that there will be a big breakthrough where I can capitalize on the momentum and keep things going the right way. But I'm kind of in no rush. I don't see myself not doing this anytime soon. I'm going to be doing this for quite a while.
"I've had a pretty great career and there's always room for more. I always want more. I certainly can't say that my career has lacked in big moments and moments I'll remember for a long time. As far as keeping momentum and following through, obviously this injury was unfortunate timing, but that comes with the territory. It all happened because I was trying to make WrestleMania as special as possible. I wouldn't change a thing in that aspect; it's just something that happens and you have to dust yourself off and keep going."
There's potential for the breakthrough Owens is hoping for a return to where his WWE career began -- in the NXT ring. Owens has been rumored to be making a trip to NXT, where he once held the brand's championship, several times over the past year.
While Owens said he was excited to get the call-up to the "main roster" at the end of his brief time with NXT, he called the moment "bittersweet." But now, with the shift in NXT's position within the company from a developmental brand to being featured weekly on USA Network, there's space for him to have an impact on WWE's "third brand."
"I think Triple H touched on it in the past in some interviews," Owens said. "For a while there, it looked like I was going to head back to NXT. I had even discussed it with Vince McMahon and stuff like that. I was excited about it. I don't know if it would have been a long or short term thing. I've been vocal about wanting to go back there because I'd love to help make it grow even more and help make it as big as it can get and make it so we have three brands people know about. I would love for people to be just as aware of NXT as they are about Raw and SmackDown. I would have loved to be a part of that, but some decisions were made that I had to stay put on Raw and SmackDown. That's fine, but I would love the chance to go back.
"I talk to Triple H pretty regularly and we bring it up once in a while. It's just about timing. There's a lot of opportunities. The landscape of WWE is changing quite a bit through this situation and I think it's going to keep evolving. The ideal scenario for me would be for NXT to be viewed as a third brand, and if it's not already, it's pretty close. I'd love to be a part of anything. I love to contribute to SmackDown, to Raw, to NXT. I just want to go where I'm needed and try to make a difference."