John Cena and Kevin Owens have enjoyed a terrific rivalry since the latter wrestler made his début on the main roster earlier this year.
That rivalry reached a new level last night during WWE's Battleground pay-per-view as the two Superstars put on yet another exceptional match.
John Cena came away with the win, and the US title, but, speaking to WWE in the aftermath of the event, the veteran reserved some very high praise for his opponent.
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Whilst discussing the huge influx of talent from WWE's NXT development promotion, John Cena singled out Kevin Owens as a wrestler who has already reached a status in the company that very few achieve in their entire careers:
"These guys have proven themselves down there and feel, appropriately so, as if they belong here. And proof positive, Kevin Owens belongs here and he belongs in the most elite class of WWE Superstars."
Cena went on to describe Owens as being "made of steel", and he was clearly emotionally and physically drained after the testing match:
"You just gotta keep going, sometimes you gotta bring it to a level you're not used to."
"That's everything I got, that's everything I got. I'm just glad I came out with the championship."
Making the next step
While John Cena has appeared reinvigorated since getting the United States title at WrestleMania this April, his latest title defence against Kevin Owens has left some wondering whether it may have a negative effect on the rising Superstar.
If Cena's claim that Owens is already amongst the elite wrestlers on the roster then surely the latter has to get beyond the unlucky loser status soon enough.
Whether that is at the expense of John Cena at August's SummerSlam remains to be seen but it certainly looks like Kevin Owens is heading for the very top of the WWE and even his biggest rival is admitting it.
Owens himself was in no mood to discuss his loss at Battleground when the WWE attempted to interview him in the event's aftermath: