The son of Syrians who emigrated to Canada during the 1970s, Sami Zayn rose to prominence for more than a decade on the Canadian and American independent circuit before signing with WWE in January 2013, making his NXT in-ring debut the month before . next and jumped to the main roster in mid-2015.
Born on July 12, 1984 in Laval, in the Canadian province of Québec, Rami Sebei by his real name debuted in the ring in March 2002, when he was just 17 years old, and stood out in companies such as Ring of Honor (ROH ), Chikara and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), where he wore a mask and the ring name El Generico.
Since joining WWE, he has won the NXT Championship (once), and the Intercontinental Championship (twice). That’s why it’s worth remembering Sami Zayn’s ten best matches in WWE, in chronological order.
NXT Arrival (February 27, 2014)
Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro
On the May 22, 2013 episode of NXT , Sami Zayn made his debut on the show and achieved a surprise victory over Cesaro , in what was the second match of the night for both of them. However, Cesaro won their second and third matches, the last of which was a two-out-of-three falls match in August of that year On the January 22, 2014 episode of NXT , Zayn revealed that he was obsessed over the final duel between the two, as he came out defeated in what has been dubbed by many the “best match of the year”. That said, Zayn challenged Cesaro to another rematch, but the Swiss rejected the challenge.
On the February 12 edition of NXT , Cesaro again rejected Zayn’s challenge, but Triple H made the match official for the NXT Arrival event.
NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way (September 11, 2014)
NXT Championship – Adrian Neville (c) vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Sami Zayn
On February 24, 2014, Adrian Neville defeated Bo Dallas to win the NXT Championship at Arrival On the May 8 episode of NXT , a 20-man battle royal to determine the title contender ended in a tie between Sami Zayn, Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze. The following week, Kidd won a match between the three to receive the title shot.
In the first NXT TakeOver, Adrian Neville retained the belt by beating Tyson Kidd. That same night, Tyler Breeze defeated Sami Zayn to become the new lead candidate.
However, the four were involved in a very intense rivalry, which led to a fatal four-way match for the NXT Championship at NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way.
NXT TakeOver: R Evolution (December 11, 2014)
Title vs. Career match for the NXT Championship:
Adrian Neville (c) vs. Sami Zayn
(If Zayn lost, he would have to leave NXT voluntarily)
At NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way, Neville prevented Zayn from winning by pulling the referee out of the ring to stop a settlement. Moments later, Neville capitalized on the situation to secure victory and retain the title
The way Neville retained the NXT Championship increased tension between him and Zayn, who beat Tyson Kidd, Titus O’Neill and Tyler Breeze to earn another title shot.
During the title match between the two, Neville feigned an injury to get Zayn to drop his defenses, then surprised him with a roll-up that gave him the win.
Zayn reacted, criticizing the dirty way Neville beat him and challenged him to a match at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, promising that he would leave NXT if he couldn’t win the title.
NXT TakeOver: Dallas (April 1, 2016)
Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn
A match with no big story behind it: NXT General Manager William Regal announced that Sami Zayn would face the brand ‘s new signing , Japanese Shinsuke Nakamura, at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. It was the match of the night, and almost match of WrestleMania weekend.
Monday Night Raw (April 11, 2016)
Sami Zayn vs. AJ Styles
On Raw the night after WrestleMania 32 , world champion Roman Reigns launched an open challenge for the title , to which Chris Jericho , AJ Styles , Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn responded, which led the quartet to a fatal four-way match to determine the new lead candidate. However, before the match Owens attacked Zayn, who was unable to fight and had to be replaced by Cesaro . The winner of the feud was AJ Styles , who won the right to face Reigns at Payback. The following week, Shane McMahon gave Sami Zayn another chance, putting him in a match against Styles . If Zayn won, he would enter the title match on the pay-per-view
Extreme Rules 2016
WWE Intercontinental Championship :
The Miz (c) vs. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zay
At WrestleMania 32, Kevin Owens lost the intercontinental title to Zack Ryder in a ladder match that involved seven wrestlers, including Sami Zayn and The Miz .
On Raw the following night, The Miz won the belt after his wife, Maryse, distracted Ryder.
The following week, Owens interrupted Shane McMahon and demanded a title shot, but instead Shane scheduled a match between Owens and Cesaro to determine the leading contender, which Cesaro won.
At Payback, Owens beat Sami Zayn and stayed to comment on the intercontinental title match, but was attacked by Zayn. The fight between the two went to the ring, which distracted Cesaro, who when trying to throw Owens and Zayn out of the ring ended up suffering the settlement of The Miz. Then the four men got into a fight that ended with Owens lifting his belt
On the following night’s Raw , Owens and Cesaro met again in a match to determine the new main contender, but the match ended in a No Contest after The Miz , who was on the commentary table, attacked Cesaro . Meanwhile Zayn appeared on the scene and another fight ensued between the four, which ended with Zayn holding the belt.
Three days later, on the May 5 episode of SmackDown , The Miz faced Sami Zayn and was defeated following interference from Kevin Owens . Then Cesaro joined the party and, after another fight between the four of them, lifted his belt That said, on the May 9 episode of Raw , Shane and Stephanie McMahon scheduled a triple threat match for Extreme Rules between Owens , Miz , and Cesaro . However, Zayn demanded to be included in the match and, after beating The Miz once more, was added, turning the feud into a fatal four way match.
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
Former tag teammates but also rivals in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla and Ring of Honor, Sami Zayn (known on the independent circuit as El Generico) and Kevin Owens maintained a love/hate relationship in WWE. In December 2014, at NXT Takeover: R Evolution, Sami Zayn won the NXT Championship from Neville. After the match, Kevin Owens appeared to congratulate his friend, but then ended up attacking him
At NXT Takeover: Rival, Owens defeated Zayn to win the NXT Championship . Months later, at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Owens injured Zayn in a title match that ended in a no contest More than May year later, at the 2016 Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn returned to the ring following the injury sustained at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, having eliminated Kevin Owens from the Royal Rumble match. On the March 7, 2016 episode of Raw , Zayn debuted on the main roster and featured in a feud with Owens .
Weeks later, at WrestleMania 32, Zayn cost Owens the loss of the Intercontinental Championship in a ladder match that was eventually won by Zack Ryder . On Raw the following night, Owens attacked Zayn, leaving him unable to participate in a Fatal four-way match to determine the main contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
However, Owens and Zayn finally faced each other on the WWE main roster at Payback, with Owens prevailing after performing a Pop Up Powerbomb. At Money in the Bank, both Owens and Zayn participated in the Money in the Bank Ladder match, but the winner was Dean Ambrose On the June 20 episode of Raw , Zayn defeated Owens and challenged him a week later to a new match, this time at the Battleground pay-per-view.
Clash of Champions: Gold Rush (2020)
Ladder match by WWE Intercontinental Championship :
Jeff Hardy (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn
In May 2020, Sami Zayn was stripped of the WWE Intercontinental Championship after abstaining from competing during the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, AJ Styles won a tournament to determine the new champion on the June 12 episode of SmackDown.
Two months later, on the August 21 episode, Jeff Hardy beat Styles to claim the title , despite the Phenomenal One attacking him in the leg before the match. The following week, Styles interrupted Hardy , noting that Hardy was a cheat in the way he won the match, by using the knee pad placed on him to kick Styles . The same night, Zayn returned to action, brought out his own belt, claiming he was the true champion as he had never been beaten for the title , and attacked Hardy. In the weeks that followed, the three clashed with each over, with everyone claiming to be the true champion. On the September 18 episode of SmackDown , Hardy announced that he would defend the title against Styles and Zayn in a ladder match at Clash of Champions . A week later, it was announced that both belts ( Hardy ‘s and Zayn’s) would have to be captured in order for someone to be declared Intercontinental Champion.
SmackDown! (May 21, 2021)
WWE Intercontinental Championship :
Apollo Crews (c) vs. Big E vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens
After failing to defeat Big E for the WWE Intercontinental Championship , Apollo Crews turned villainous and began to take on his Nigerian royal roots, including his Nigerian accent On the February 19 episode of SmackDown , after a loss to Shinsuke Nakamura in a match where Big E was at the commentator’s table, Apollo attacked Nakamura. Big E tried to help the Japanese man, but was attacked by Apollo, who used the steel steps to do so.
At Fastlane, Big E defeated Apollo to retain the title, but was again attacked by the Nigerian.
On the March 26 episode of SmackDown , Apollo bottomed Big E in a six-man tag team match , which led to another title match between the two, this time a Nigerian Drum Fight at WrestleMania 37 In the biggest event of the year, Apollo won the title after interference from Commander Azeez, a former member of the Nigerian Elite Army .
On the April 30 edition of SmackDown , Big E was entitled to a rematch, but the match ended in a disqualification by Apollo after further interference from Azeez, who attacked Big E. On the May 14 episode, a Nigeria Medal of Honor award ceremony was held for Apollo Crews, but it was interrupted by Big E, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owens , who expressed interest in fighting for the WWE Intercontinental Championship .
SmackDown! (July 2, 2021)
Last Man Standing Match
Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owen
With a love/hate relationship since they’ve been in WWE, Kevin Owens eliminated Sami Zayn in the Elimination Chamber match for a shot at the WWE Universal Championship during Elimination Chamber 2021. Following the event, Zayn tried to convince Owens to believe that there was a conspiracy on the part of WWE officials to keep him down. But Owens wasn’t much of a believer and challenged Zayn to a match at WrestleMania 37 . Zayn accepted, but was defeated. In the SmackDown episode that followed, Zayn claimed he lost to Owens because he was distracted by YouTuber Logan Paul and asked for a rematch
That night, Owens beat Zayn by count-out and attacked him after the match. However, Zayn continued to be an obstacle for Owens , which led to a new match between the two for Hell in a Cell, a pay-per-view in which Zayn emerged victorious. To end the feud, a Last Man Standing match was scheduled between Owens and Zayn for the July 2 episode of SmackDown which also served as a qualifying match for the men’s Money in the Bank Ladder match of the Money in the Bank event .