Kevin Owens got a great response from his native Canadian crowd in Toronto during SmackDown Tuesday night. At least for a while.
As Owens, AJ Styles, and Shane McMahon made their way to the ring to finalize details on their match at SummerSlam (where Shane will serve as special referee), the crowd was split on who to cheer for. It seemed to be a 50/50 split as the crowd had dueling chants for AJ and for Kevin.
It was at that point that Owens played the crowd masterfully and got them to turn on him instantly. He was talking about how he doesn't trust Shane to do a good job as referee at SummerSlam when he invoked a Canadian hero from the past.
"We already had a McMahon screw over a legendary Canadian before," Owens said, as the crowd began chanting "you screwed Bret."
Owens then said, "Of course, he deserved it, but I don't. And it would quite frankly be terrible P.R. if you were to do the same to another legendary Canadian."
The crowd boo'ed the snot out of him and Owens controlled them as the heel for the rest of the segment.
Owens asked McMahon how he can be unbiased to someone (Styles) who attacked him just a few months ago? They then showed footage of Styles attacking McMahon backstage during SmackDown in March, a segment that built toward the pair's bout at WrestleMania.
Styles said that he wasn't thrilled when he heard Shane was the referee, but he also acknowledged officiating hasn't been great lately anyway. Styles said everyone sees what Owens is trying to do here. He also said that if Shane screws him, he will have to pay, just like he did at WrestleMania. Styles told Shane not to take offense; he doesn't trust anybody, let alone a McMahon.
Shane said the men shouldn't confuse him with other family members and said he doesn't operate in shady ways. Owens then showed some old footage of Shane McMahon being involved in the finish at Survivor Series 1998 with Steve Austin and Mankind, refusing to count a pinfall for Austin. Owens told AJ this could happen to him. He mentioned you can find hours of footage of Shane screwing over wrestlers as a referee on the WWE Network.
Shane again claimed he would be an impartial referee and wouldn't get involved, unless he has to. He told both men to not give him a reason to get involved. AJ suggested they make things simple, get rid of Shane and just do the match tonight to settle things. Owens said he'd rather win the U.S. title in the United States in a city "that actually matters." Thunderous boos from the crowd once again.
Following this, the men got into a brawl, which resulted in AJ accidentally hitting Shane with a pele kick, ending the segment with an unhappy McMahon left in the ring.