Kevin Owens and Roman Reigns are no strangers when it comes to the squared circle. Over the course of their WWE careers, the two have had numerous televised (and untelevised) matches together going back to 2015. They've even wrestled on PPV for the WWE Universal Championship twice in the past: at the 2017 Royal Rumble and at Roadblock 2016. In both of their previous matches, Owens walked in the Universal Champion and walked out the Universal Champion.
However, things are different this Sunday at WWE TLC. In their third-ever PPV match, Owens will walk in the challenger while Reigns holds the Universal Championship. As of present, Reigns is in the midst of one of the best runs of his career, while Owens, by his own admittance, has had an inconsistent 2020 and is looking to find his footing at the top of the card once again.
In advance of TLC, ComicBook.com had the chance to speak with Owens. The former Universal Champion spoke candidly about his past with Reigns, as well as where he hopes to see Sunday's match lead going into 2021.
"I always strive for more," Owens said when looking back on this year. "I think that's been well-documented throughout my career, and especially my time in WWE, through various documentaries that they've done on me...2020 was a weird year for, obviously, everybody, and weird is not a proper term. It was a pretty terrible year for everybody.
"If you just focus on wrestling itself, and WWE, it was a pretty weird year for everyone. I was really floating around aimlessly. I had the big moment with Seth at WrestleMania, and I thought maybe that was going to turn into something interesting. For me, I think, my tenure in WWE can be described as a rollercoaster, in terms of I'm always around, I'm not really on the shows, I'm always doing something. Sometimes, it's something really important and really big. Other times, it's something just I'm not even really doing it for myself. I'm helping other people's stories along. I feel like 2020's been a lot of that, for me."
He went on to explain how the TLC match with Reigns could turn things around for him.
"I would love for Sunday to be the beginning (of his feud with Reigns)," Owens explained. "Even though the story has been going for a few weeks, I'd love for Sunday to be the beginning of something pretty meaningful and consistent. I'd love to see the momentum that I gained over the past few weeks, keep going. Obviously, going into WrestleMania season and the Royal Rumble coming up, and all this stuff. Everybody wants to do good. Everybody wants to have a big spot on those shows. I'm no different. It's obviously a big deal, because I haven't really been in that picture for a while. I used to be in it pretty much all the time, up until 2017, 2018. It feels pretty exciting to be back there, and I'll certainly give it my all to stay in that picture, as well."
As previously mentioned, Owens and Reigns have had several matches together in the past. We asked him which bouts stand out as some of his favorites.
"I really loved the Royal Rumble (2017) one," Owens admitted. "It's funny because Roman and I used to talk a lot more than we do now, obviously. We will talk about that match, even years after. We'd remember little moments from that match, and I'd get a random text once in a while from him saying, 'Hey remember when you did this in that match?' Now, it's like, 'Remember when you did that?' We're just proud of that match, we really had a blast in it.
"It's almost a forgotten match, too, I'd say. Whenever people come across it, they're like... I'll see tweets about it once in a while, 'Hey, I just watched this match. It's really good. It's really something people should go (watch).' We feel the same way. We really had a lot of fun in it.
"We've been in the ring together, a lot. The very first time, actually, it was a fatal four-way match on a Raw (October 26, 2015). I want to say we were in San Diego, and it came down as an elimination match. It came down to me and Roman...I was still on the rise, and Roman was already a really big star. It was exciting for the crowd, I think, to see this guy, that's relatively new. I had the matches with the Cena, so people knew what I could do in the ring.
"At that time, people were really responding to me. They were getting behind me more than people expected, I think, given my attitude, and all that stuff. Roman was already a polarizing figure, so I'll remember that moment for a really long time. Once, I think it was Dolph Ziggler... Anyway. Once the other guy gets eliminated and it's down to me and Roman, one-on-one, Roman's outside of the ring, and I'm in the middle of the ring. The crowd starts going insane. Roman and I, literally, only had maybe a minute in the ring together after that, before the end of the match. I remember thinking, 'Hey, there's really something here.' People were excited, and we have some chemistry. I can feel it. We're going to do some good stuff together down the line. It turned out to be true. Now, to get to do it in this setting, with the roles reversed, and this new interesting fresh look at the story, it's been great to be involved in."
We discussed several more topics during our conversation with Kevin Owens, including the new edition of WWE Chronicle focusing on himself, as well as some epic (untold) pranks that Owens has pulled on best friend Sami Zayn over the years. Make sure to check back with ComicBook.com for more from our conversation in the days ahead.