Kevin Owens faced McMahon at SummerSlam in a winning effort where had Owens lost, he would be fired. Owens' victory came with a consequence as he assaulted McMahon's chosen special guest referee Elias, resulting in Owens being issued a heavy fine.
On the August 13 episode of SmackDown, McMahon went on a backstage segment with Owens, recruited the willing Samoa Joe to be Owens' surprise opponent, to whom he lost against later during the show. Owens was announced as a participant in the 2019 King of the Ring Tournament, losing to Elias in the first round on the August 20 episode of ‘’ Smackdown’’, where McMahon served as the guest referee.
On the September 10 episode of Smackdown, McMahon "fired" Owens after McMahon tapped out to Chad Gable in their King Of The Ring semi-final Match where Owens was serving as the special guest referee. The following week, Owens attended SmackDown Live as an audience member, but had also filed a kayfabe wrongful termination lawsuit against McMahon.
In a recent interview with ABS CBN, the Canadian superstar reflected on doing things his way: “I went a different way, obviously, and it’s been arduous but it’s been very rewarding to be me. I don’t know how many people have tried to change me throughout my career, and it was all good advice, I don’t know if it was me being hard-headed or what, I just thought I was always going to do it my way, and I really did.
I’m sure there would have been other ways to do it, but what I just decided to do is not let anybody tell me that I couldn’t, so I guess that would be the one advice I have for someone who doesn’t fit the mold, as you say”.