Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Before They Were Superstars, where I’ll be discussing the matches and angles that current WWE superstars were involved in before they debuted in the WWE. Many of today’s current WWE superstars were not always in the WWE. A lot of them started on the independent wrestling circuit where they honed their craft in front of smaller crowds.
They’re currently known as Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins, but they once went by Kevin Steen and Tyler Black respectively. Before they battled each other for the WWE Universal Championship, they were both affiliated with Ring of Honor (ROH). Back in 2010, they were both involved in separate angles in ROH, and on one night in July, they crossed paths in Chicago Ridge, IL.
Tyler Black was Ring of Honor’s world champion, but the fans were turning on him. There was a perception that it had taken Tyler too long to win the title and he wasn’t worthy of it at this point. It didn’t help that his lackluster title reign was being overshadowed by one of the best feuds in the company’s history. Kevin Steen warred with his former friend and tag-team partner, El Generico, for all of 2010. The two had amazing matches with each other, and their story also involved other ROH wrestlers, Colt Cabana and Steve Corino.
Steen had been steamrolling through everyone and found himself in a title match with Tyler Black. Their match took place on July 24th 2010 at an event named Salvation. The name of the event seemed to signify that Tyler would save Steen from his evil ways, but that’s not the way things worked out.
The following images are screenshots from the ROH DVD Kevin Steen: Descent Into Madness.
The match begins with a handshake between the two men. If you’re not familiar with Ring of Honor, most of the matches begin and end this way, which is referred to as “The Code of Honor.” The match starts pretty fast as they brawl in and around the ring. The rules are pretty relaxed, allowing them to brawl extensively at ringside. The opening moments are pretty back and forth.
If you’re only aware of their WWE matches, you’ll see a lot of different moves utilized by both men, and some of the same that they use today. The match gets a little bloody after Tyler gets whipped into one of the barricades at ringside. After Tyler is bloodied, Steen smears some of the blood on his face like war paint.
Steen takes control of most of the middle of the match with a few spots where Tyler is able to mount a minor comeback. It isn’t until after Tyler hits a buckle-bomb and a superkick that he regains a bit of control of the match. Tyler is able to double-stomp Steen through a table, and this bloodies Steen.
Shortly after Steen is locked in one of his own signature moves, the Sharpshooter, by Tyler and taps out. Tyler Black was barely able to survive his encounter with the madman Kevin Steen.
Even though he was successful in defending his title, Tyler began to show more of a dark side in his matches after beating Steen. He began using more heel tactics to cling to his championship. A few months after this match, Tyler lost the title to Roderick Strong. Shortly after he would sign on with WWE and become Seth Rollins. Kevin Steen continued his feud with El Generico and would keep making a bigger name for himself on the indy scene, especially in ROH, before making his way to WWE.