In my eyes, Sami Zayn has turned into the heart and soul of the WWE. He is the embodiment of true wrestling.
If Daniel Bryan previously represented the pure wrestling workhorse of the WWE, I think that title now belongs to Zayn. Look back at all the Raw and SmackDowns over the last year or so. There’s a good chance Zayn was either in the main event or that he wrestled the best match of the evening.
Sami is coming off a two-day stretch of wrestling that is hard to encapsulate in words. Let’s just say he had back to back matches of the night. On Sunday night he faced and defeated his long-time rival, Kevin Owens, at WWE Battleground. The next night on Raw he faced Roman Reigns, Chris Jericho and Sheamus.
When you combine those with his classics vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT TakeOver, him vs. Seth Rollins a few weeks back on SmackDown and him vs. Kevin Owens, The Miz and Cesaro at Extreme Rules, among other matches, you’re looking at somebody who has easily been in half of my favorite 10 matches of the year so far.
It’s not a coincidence that Sami happens to be in so many great matches. If you look at Sami Zayn he may not be the tallest. He may not be the strongest. He may not be the fastest either. But what he does have is a high wrestling IQ, heart for days and a unique connection with the WWE Universe.
This was made clear back in his WWE debut on Raw back in May 14, 2015. John Cena was the United States Champion at the time. He was regularly challenging any and all foes for a shot at his gold in the U.S Open Challenge. On that fateful date Raw was held in Zayn’s hometown of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Bret Hart introduced Zayn as Cena’s opponent for the night.
Sami Zayn couldn’t have drawn up a better way to debut in WWE: he was in his hometown, Bret Hart introduced him on WWE’s flagship program and he was facing the biggest name in wrestling for the U.S Title.
Disaster struck in the most ironic way possible. As Sami was walking into the ring he waved to the fans in attendance, signaling for them to make noise. In doing so, he dislocated his shoulder. The injury required surgery and he had to miss 7 months of action.
But not before doing battle with Cena. That’s right, Zayn didn’t fall down. He didn’t walk away. He didn’t use the injury as an excuse. This was arguably the biggest moment of his professional career and he wasn’t letting an injury stop him from living his dream.
Zayn proceeded to wrestle the match of his life. Dislocated shoulder and all, Zayn put on a match for the ages and left it all in the ring. Cena ended up victorious, but they were both winners that night. Zayn was given a standing ovation by all in attendance at the match’s conclusion.
Over a year later, Zayn is hotter than ever. He is truly a man of the people. Despite the abundant time he had to miss and the severity of his injury, Zayn is back to performing the death-defying moves that earned him the moniker “The Underdog of the Underground”.
Whether it’s his patented Tornado DDT through the ropes, flying Swanton Bomb outside the ring, Blue Thunder Bomb, Exploder Suplex or the Helluva Kick, Zayn has moves for days.
This past Sunday at WWE Battleground we saw exactly what Zayn is capable of when he is at his best. He defiantly defeated Kevin Owens like never before. Zayn famously lost to Kevin Owens twice due to referee stoppages while in NXT. This time, Sami made Kevin Owens pay.
Zayn showed that he is capable of laying quite the smackdown as well. He nailed Owens with innumerable Exploder Suplexes and Helluva Kicks. He beat Owens into oblivion like no one else has.
When Sami Zayn is perfecting the art of wrestling in the ring it’s clear he love nothing more. To paraphrase Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, Sami has a love and it makes him stronger than anything you can imagine.
by: Kevin D’Hooge