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Kevin Owens Primed For Midcard Program Against Cesaro

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We reported last week here on Premium the plan was to program Kevin Owens against Cesaro. With the plan now in motion, much has been written about the card positioning of Owens.

John Cena is back in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture and in all likelihood will challenge Seth Rollins at SummerSlam, with Brock Lesnar in a program with The Undertaker. What does this say about Owens?

Owens was fast tracked through WWE NXT after signing a developmental contract last year. The feeling was he was completely developed and he had nothing left to prove in NXT. He burst onto the main roster in May and went on to have multiple “Match of the Year” candidates against John Cena. All that was left heading into last Sunday’s Battleground was for him to get his payoff and go over Cena for the United States Championship. Instead, Owens tapped out at 22:11.

The loss by submission created a social media explosion, with people immediately adding the name of Owens to Bray Wyatt and Rusev as “up and coming” names to bang their head off WWE’s proverbial glass ceiling in programs with the John Cena. Owens — hotter than ever — couldn’t get over the hump and will face the uphill battle of trying to stand out in the crowded middle tier of a deep WWE talent roster.

I’ve received several tweets and emails from concerned readers, questioning what Owens did wrong. The answer is nothing. Owens is exactly who WWE thought he was once he got to NXT - a fully developed prospect with a very high ceiling. He’s not without his detractors, from longtime developmental talent upset about his fast track to the main roster to some believing his “look” will continue to provide ammunition for Vince McMahon to hold him down.

WWE is capitalizing on the mainstream media attention John Cena is getting for his role in “Trainwreck” to further showcase him as a top star by putting him in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship picture at SummerSlam. Caught in the crossfire is Owens, who is relegated to a midcard program against another highly touted prospect. My guess is WWE didn’t want Cena to lose the Owens feud, knowing they wanted him in the title match at their pay-per-view of the summer and Owens back in a feud with Cesaro.

Even with this logic, I felt it was a big mistake for Owens to tap out at WWE Battleground. I am not surprised but disappointed at the booking decision. Owens still boasts a very high ceiling with limitless potential but we’ve seen example after example of WWE refusing to listen to their audience. Owens was ready for the next step but like so many that preceded him will be pulled back and will have to wait his turn for another opportunity.

It’s entirely possible the opportunity presents itself again as we’ve seen the most talented prospects can’t be mid carders for life. CM Punk burst through the glass ceiling and so did Daniel Bryan. Seth Rollins, who follows a similar mold, is also proving the shift in WWE’s philosophy. However, for whatever reason, WWE remains reluctant to use John Cena as a launchpad for some of their most talented prospects. Owens more than raised some eyebrows with his work and proved his call-up was justified. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the coveted brass ring and will only provide Cena detractors more ammunition against him.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 9:48 AM EDT Update:BG James (a/k/a Road Dogg), who works as a producer in WWE, weighed in on this piece when I tweeted it. I'll provide the tweets below:

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