Sami Zayn

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Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn WrestleMania 32 Axxess.jpg
Zayn in March 2016
Birth name Rami Sebei [1]
Born (1984-07-12) July 12, 1984 (age 34)[2]
Laval, Quebec, Canada
Residence Orlando, Florida, U.S.
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Big Larry
El Generico
Rami Sebei
Sami Zayn[3]
Sammy Sane
Steve McFly
Billed height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)[4]
Billed weight 212 lb (96 kg)[4]
Billed from Tijuana, Mexico[5][6]
Montreal, Quebec, Canada[4]
Trained by Patty the Kid[5]
Jerry Tuite[2]
Savio Vega[2]
Debut 2002[5]

Rami Sebei[5][7] (born July 12, 1984)[2] is a Syrian-Canadian professional wrestler currently signed to WWE performing on the Raw brand under the ring name Sami Zayn. He is currently on hiatus recovering from shoulder surgeries.

Prior to joining WWE, Sebei wrestled on the independent circuit under the ring name El Generico, using the character of a luchador from Mexico with a catchphrase of "Olé!".[8] Generico wrestled while masked from his debut in 2002 until 2013. Upon signing with WWE, Sebei began wrestling without a mask. In WWE, he is a former NXT Champion and a one-time Slammy Award winner.

Generico achieved much success in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) as a two-time PWG World Champion and five-time World Tag Team Champion. He is the only person to have won both of PWG's annual tournaments, the Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament in 2010 and the Battle of Los Angeles in 2011. Generico has also held the ROH World Television Championship and the ROH World Tag Team Championship with Kevin Steen, with whom he later earned the 2010 Feud of the Year award from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Generico is also a two-time IWS World Heavyweight Champion for the Montreal-based International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS). Having wrestled internationally, Generico won the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship in Germany and DDT Pro-Wrestling's KO-D Openweight Championship in Japan.

Early life[edit]

Sebei was born on July 12, 1984 in Laval, Quebec, Canada. He trained under Patty the Kid, Jerry Tuite and Savio Vega.

Professional wrestling career[edit]

International Wrestling Syndicate (2002–2009)[edit]

On July 14, 2002 at Scarred For Life, "The Generic Luchador" El Generico made his wrestling debut with the International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) in a countout victory.[9] On October 18, 2003 at Blood, Sweat and Beers, Generico lost to Carl Ouellet in a three-way match also involving Kevin Steen. On November 15 at Payback's A Bitch, Generico defeated Steen in their first ever singles match against each other.[10][11] IWS held its 5th anniversary show "V" on June 15, 2004 at Le SPAG, where Generico defeated PCO in an IWS title match for his first IWS World Heavyweight Championship only to have Kevin Steen reclaim his number one contendership won earlier that night against Excess 69. Generico lost to Steen for the IWS World Heavyweight Championship.

On September 11 at CZW High Stakes II, Generico, Steen and Excess 69 losto to SeXXXy Eddy in an IWS four-way match which was unofficially chosen as "CZW Match of the Year".[12][13] On August 20, 2005 at Extreme Dream II, Generico lost to Chris Bishop in the Extreme Dream Tournament final match for the IWS Canadian Championhip. On February 16, 2008 at Violent Valentine, Generico defeated Kevin Steen for the IWS World Heavyweight Championship. On March 22, at Know Your Enemies, Generico lost the IWS World Heavyweight Championship to Steen a three-way match also involving Max Boyer.

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (2004–2013)[edit]

In 2004, members of the IWS started making regular appearances in the United States, which helped him get noticed by the popular independent company Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG). After that, Generico became a PWG regular. He has held the PWG World Tag Team Championship five times with four different partners: with Human Tornado as 2 Skinny Black Guys, Quicksilver as Cape Fear, Kevin Steen, and Paul London as ¡Peligro Abejas!. Generico is also the only participant to consecutively appear in the first eight Battle of Los Angeles tournaments from 2005. On February 24, 2007, Generico defeated former partner Tornado to win the PWG World Championship during his title run with Cape Fear. Later that year, while Generico was still World Champion, he and Steen defeated PAC and Roderick Strong for the belts, making Generico the only man in PWG history to hold both the World and World Tag Team titles not once, but twice at the same time.

In mid-2009, Generico entered a lengthy feud with the tag team Men of Low Moral Fiber, consisting of Kenny Omega and Chuck Taylor, recruiting Colt Cabana, referee Rick Knox, and former partner Human Tornado (effectively reuniting 2 Skinny Black Guys) to stand by his side. At PWG's 6th anniversary event, Threemendous II, 2 Skinny Black Guys defeated current champions The Young Bucks in a non-title match, giving the Bucks their first tag team loss in almost a year and a half. On November 21 during the second night of the 2009 Battle of Los Angeles, Generico and Kevin Steen lost a title match against the Bucks.[14] Later, he and Cabana saved the new PWG World Champion Kenny Omega from Brian Kendrick and the Bucks and made peace with him as they now had a common enemy.[15]

On May 9, 2010, Generico teamed up with "Intrepid Traveler" Paul London to form a duo introduced as ¡Peligro Abejas! (literal translation: Danger Bees!) in the fourth annual DDT4 eight-team tag tournament. After defeating Chuck Taylor and Scott Lost in the first round and the Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) in the semifinals, Generico and London defeated the Young Bucks in the finals of the tournament to not only win DDT4, but also the PWG World Tag Team Championship, Generico's fifth time he has held the title.[16] On December 11, 2010, El Generico earned himself a shot at the PWG World Championship, when ¡Peligro Abejas! successfully defended the PWG World Tag Team Championship against Chris Hero and the PWG World Champion, Claudio Castagnoli, the team known collectively as The Kings of Wrestling.[17] Generico received his shot at the PWG World Championship on January 29, 2011, during the WrestleReunion 5 weekend, but was defeated by Castagnoli.[18] On April 9, El Generico teamed with Ricochet, who filled in for London who was unable to appear at the event, in a match, where they lost the PWG World Tag Team Championship back to The Young Bucks.[19][20] On August 20, Generico entered the 2011 Battle of Los Angeles, defeating Claudio Castagnoli and Willie Mack in his first round and semifinal matches. Later that same night, Generico defeated old rival Kevin Steen in the finals to win the tournament, becoming the first person to have won the PWG World and World Tag Team championships as well as the DDT4 and Battle of Los Angeles tournaments. In the process, Generico also earned himself a match for Steen's PWG World Championship.[21] On October 22, El Generico defeated Steen in a ladder match, following outside interference from The Young Bucks, to win the PWG World Championship for the second time.[22] On March 17, 2012, El Generico re-lost the title to Steen in a three-way match, which also included Eddie Edwards.[23] After agreeing to a deal with WWE, El Generico made his farewell appearance for PWG on January 12, 2013, when he and Kevin Steen entered the 2013 Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament. After wins over the Briscoe Brothers and Future Shock (Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly), El Generico and Steen were defeated in the finals of the tournament by The Young Bucks.[24]

Chikara (2005–2012)[edit]

(Left to right) El Generico, Shane Matthews and Scott Parker as ¡3.0lé! during the 2011 King of Trios in April 2011

On February 19, 2005, El Generico made his debut for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania–based Chikara, taking part in the 2005 Tag World Grand Prix, where he teamed with Kevin Steen as Team IWS. The team made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament, before being defeated by the SuperFriends (Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush).[25]

El Generico returned to Chikara three years later to take part in the 2008 King of Trios, where he teamed with Player Uno and Stupefied, again, as Team IWS. After defeating the F1rst Family (Arik Cannon, Darin Corbin and Ryan Cruz) in their first round match on March 1, Team IWS was eliminated from the tournament later that same day by Los Luchadores de Mexico (Incognito, Lince Dorado and El Pantera), who went on to win the entire tournament.[26] The following year, on March 27, El Generico returned for the 2009 King of Trios, this time teaming with Matt and Nick Jackson as Team PWG. They were eliminated from the tournament in the first round by The Osirian Portal (Amasis, Escorpion Egipcio and Ophidian).[27] The following day El Generico entered the Rey de Voladores tournament, but was defeated by Kota Ibushi in his four–way elimination semifinal match, which also included Jigsaw and Nick Jackson.[28] On the third night of the tournament, El Generico was defeated by Arik Cannon in a singles match.[29]

El Generico appearing at a Chikara show in 2013

El Generico's next appearance for Chikara occurred almost two years later on January 23, 2011, when he faced Eddie Kingston in a losing effort.[30] For the 2011 King of Trios El Generico came together with 3.0 (Scott Parker and Shane Matthews) to form ¡3.0le!. The team was eliminated from the tournament in the first round by The Osirian Portal (Amasis, Hieracon and Ophidian).[30][31] The following day El Generico entered his second Rey de Voladores and defeated Pinkie Sanchez, Zack Sabre, Jr. and Marshe Rockett in his four–way elimination semifinal match to qualify for the following day's finals.[30][32] The following day El Generico defeated the 1-2-3 Kid in the finals to win the 2011 Rey de Voladores.[30][33] El Generico returned to Chikara on July 30, 2011, when he reunited ¡3.0le! with Scott Parker and Shane Matthews in a six-man tag team match, where they defeated F.I.S.T. (Chuck Taylor, Icarus and Johnny Gargano).[30][34] The following day ¡3.0le! was defeated by the Spectral Envoy (Frightmare, Hallowicked and UltraMantis Black) in a six-man tag team match.[30][34]

Ring of Honor (2005–2012)[edit]

El Generico first wrestled for Ring of Honor (ROH) in 2005, earning a spot in a Four Corner Survival match at Do Or Die IV. He teamed with the Ring Crew Express (Dunn and Marcos) in the Trios Tournament 2005, losing to the Rottweilers. At Stalemate, he lost to Roderick Strong, then teaming with Sal Rinauro against The Embassy at New Frontiers (and losing). He only received a few more matches, losing to Austin Aries at Fate of an Angel and getting his first win against fellow IWS alumnus Kevin Steen at The Homecoming (a match that didn't even make it to the event's DVD). His final ROH match of this run was a loss to Homicide at Dragon Gate Invasion.

Generico returned to ROH in late 2006, making an appearance at Dethroned, where he was defeated by Brent Albright. Following this, he took part in (and lost) a Four Corner Survival match to Jimmy Rave at Final Battle 2006. In 2007, El Generico formed a permanent team with Kevin Steen, taking on the Briscoe Brothers at the Fifth Year Festival: Philly. Much like many previous matches, they were defeated in this encounter, but the two men had a memorable showing that eventually earned them a full-time spot on the roster. Throughout 2007, the two teams feuded with one another, having several memorable matches including (but not limited to) a great match on the Driven pay-per-view, ROH's second-ever. Their feud came to an end following a brutal Street Fight at Death Before Dishonor V: Night 1, a steel cage match at Caged Rage, a two out of three falls match at Manhattan Mayhem 2 and a ladder match advertised as a "Ladder War" at Man Up. This final match became the Main Event of ROH's third pay-per-view.

Generico in 2008

Also during this time, Generico broke out as a singles competitor, having a strong run in the Race to the Top Tournament of 2007. He defeated (in order) Delirious, Chris Hero and Davey Richards, only to lose in the final match of the tournament to Claudio Castagnoli. After the feud with the Briscoes ended, Generico and Steen spent several months feuding with the Hangmen Three in an inconclusive feud that carried on into 2008. They also worked through the tag ranks and attempted to win the tag titles, but came up short in a tag title tournament at Up For Grabs. Generico took ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness to the limit at Age of Insanity, but eventually lost.

On September 19, 2008, Generico and Steen finally won the ROH World Tag Team Championship by beating The Age of the Fall at Driven.[35] Generico lost a second match to McGuinness at Glory by Honor VII. Generico was booked in another match against McGuinness at Caged Collision, which he lost. On April 10, 2009, at a television taping, Generico and Steen lost the ROH World Tag Team Championship to The American Wolves (Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards).[35] Generico then suffered a knee injury, sustaining damage to his Medial collateral ligament.[36]

On December 19, 2009 at Final Battle 2009, ROH's first live pay-per-view, after a loss to The Young Bucks, Steen turned heel by attacking El Generico.[37] He then formed a team with Colt Cabana and together the two of them started a feud with Steen and his new partner Steve Corino. At the following pay-per-view, The Big Bang!, Generico and Cabana defeated Steen and Corino via disqualification, when Steen used a chair on his former partner.[38] On June 19 at Death Before Dishonor VIII, Steen defeated El Generico in a singles match.[39] On September 11 at Glory By Honor IX Generico and Cabana defeated Steen and Corino in a Double Chain match, when Cabana forced Corino to tap out. After the match Steen attacked El Generico and unmasked him.[40] On December 18 at Final Battle 2010 El Generico and Steen ended their year–long feud in an unsanctioned Fight Without Honor, where Generico put his mask on the line against Steen's ROH career. In the weeks leading up to the event, Generico debuted a new darker character and an all black outfit.[41] In the end El Generico won the match and thus forced Steen out of Ring of Honor.[42] On March 2, 2011, ROH announced that El Generico had signed a new contract with the promotion.[43]

Generico and Kevin Steen feuded for two years in Ring of Honor

On April 1 at the first night of Honor Takes Center Stage, El Generico was defeated by Michael Elgin from the House of Truth, led by Truth Martini, following interference from a masked man.[44] The following day, El Generico defeated another member of the House of Truth, Roderick Strong, but after the match was attacked by Elgin and Martini. Colt Cabana came out to make the save, but was stopped by the House of Truth's advantage in numbers. This led to Christopher Daniels coming out, but he ended up turning heel and hitting El Generico with the Book of Truth and Cabana with the Angel's Wings, thus joining the House of Truth and revealing himself as the man who had cost El Generico his match against Elgin.[45] On June 26 at Best in the World 2011, Generico defeated Daniels to win the ROH World Television Championship.[46] He lost the title to Jay Lethal on August 13 at the first Ring of Honor Wrestling tapings under the Sinclair Broadcast Group banner.[47] On March 30, 2012 at Showdown in the Sun, El Generico faced the reinstated Kevin Steen in a losing effort in a Last Man Standing match and then disappeared from ROH.[48] After Steen successfully defended the ROH World Championship on October 13 at Glory By Honor XI: The Unbreakable Hope, he received a parcel containing Generico's mask.[49] El Generico returned to ROH on December 16 at Final Battle 2012: Doomsday, where he unsuccessfully challenged Steen for the ROH World Championship in a ladder war.[50] This was his last appearance with the ROH before signing with WWE.

Dragon Gate (2007–2009)[edit]

Generico travelled to Japan during the summer of 2007, where he worked for the Dragon Gate (DG) promotion as the gaijin (foreign) representative of the New Hazard stable.[51][52] He returned to the promotion in July 2008, where he was announced as Tozawa-juku's "foreign exchange student."[53] El Generico made his third tour of Dragon Gate in October 2009, when he wrestled as a member of the Kamikaze stable.[54]

DDT Pro-Wrestling (2011–2012)[edit]

In early 2011, El Generico began making semi-regular appearances for the Japanese DDT Pro-Wrestling sister-promotion Union Pro Wrestling, making his debut on January 3 with a win over Shinichiro Tominaga.[55] On September 19, El Generico won his first title in Japan, when he defeated Isami Kodaka for the DDT Extreme Division Championship.[56] After successful title defenses against Shuji Ishikawa and Sanshiro Takagi,[57][58] he re-lost the title to Kodaka on January 3, 2012.[59] El Generico has also made some appearances for Union Pro's parent promotion, DDT Pro-Wrestling, most notably defeating Kota Ibushi in Ibushi's return match from a shoulder injury on May 4, 2012.[60] On August 18, El Generico wrestled his first match in the Nippon Budokan, defeating the debuting Konosuke Takeshita.[61] On September 30, El Generico defeated Kota Ibushi to win the KO-D Openweight Championship, DDT's top title.[62][63] El Generico made his first successful title defense on October 21 in a rematch against Ibushi.[64] On November 25, El Generico defeated KO-D Tag Team Champion Mikami for his second successful defense of the KO-D Openweight Championship.[65] On December 23, El Generico lost the KO-D Openweight Championship to Kenny Omega in his third defense.[66]

Dragon Gate USA and Evolve (2012)[edit]

On March 31, 2012, El Generico made his debut for Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), when he defeated Chuck Taylor, Cima, Lince Dorado, Rich Swann and Samuray del Sol in a six-way match.[67] On April 13, El Generico made his debut for Evolve, a promotion closely affiliated with DGUSA, losing to Low Ki.[68] After another loss to Ricochet on May 11,[69] El Generico picked up his first win in the promotion on May 12 by defeating Sami Callihan.[70] El Generico then had two singles matches against Samuray del Sol; the first on June 28 at Evolve 14 was won by El Generico and the rematch the following day at Evolve 15 was won by Samuray.[71][72] El Generico returned to Dragon Gate USA on July 28, when he and Samuray were defeated in a tag team match by AR Fox and Cima.[73] On September 8, El Generico and Samuray del Sol faced off in another Evolve main event, which was won by El Generico.[74] On November 4 at Dragon Gate USA's Freedom Fight 2012, El Generico teamed with Samuray in a tag team match, where they defeated Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito.[75] The two continued their winning ways on December 8 at Evolve 18, where they defeated the Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno and Stupefied).[76]

Other promotions[edit]

From 2005 onwards, El Generico has made several appearances for the German Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) promotion.[77] On March 4, 2012, El Generico defeated Tommy End to win wXw's 2012 16 Carat Gold Tournament.[78] On May 19, El Generico defeated Big van Walter to also win the wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship.[79] On August 12, 2012, he lost the title to Axel Tischer in a four-way match, which also included Bad Bones and Karsten Beck.[80] In October 2009 El Generico traveled to Poland to take part in Do or Die Wrestling's event in Warsaw, defeating Michael Kovac in the main event of the show.[81] In May 2010, Generico competed in the main-event of Capital City Championship Combat's show, Stand Alone. On October 23, Generico competed at Pro Wrestling Superstars' inaugural show in Jacksonville, North Carolina, where he teamed with Paul London to defeat Joey Silvia and Jake Manning.[82]

On January 11, 2011, El Generico wrestled in a tryout dark match for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) at the promotion's Impact! tapings, losing to Amazing Red.[83] The following day he defeated T.J. Perkins in another dark match.[84] On April 20, 2011, El Generico made his South American debut, when he wrestled for Peruvian promotion Leader Wrestling Association (LWA), facing Apocalipsis, Axl and Kaiser in a number one contender's match to determine a challenger for Caoz, the promotion's "Campeón Máximo". In the end, Kaiser came out of the match victorious.[85] On April 24, El Generico wrestled for Chilean promotion Xplosion Nacional de Lucha (XNL), losing to Crazy Sid in an XNL Championship number one contender's three–way match, which also included XL.[86] On February 26, 2012, El Generico visited Russia for the first time, making his debut for the Independent Wrestling Federation (IWF), where he faced Ivan "Locomotive" Markov and won.[87] Later in the year, on September 16, they wrestled in a rematch and this time Markov was victorious.[87] On September 8, 2012, Generico made an appearance for Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW), unsuccessfully challenging Masada for the CZW World Heavyweight Championship.[88]

After signing with WWE, El Generico made his final Canadian independent appearance on January 18, 2013, when he worked for the Hart Legacy Wrestling (HLW) promotion in Calgary. In the opening four-way elimination match, El Generico and Samuray del Sol were victorious over Cam!kaze and Pete Wilson, Brian Cage and Trent Barreta, and Andrew Hawkes and Ryan Rollins. As a result, the two earned a spot in a main event ten man tag team match, where they teamed with Barreta, Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Jack Evans in a losing effort against the team of Teddy Hart, Brian Cage, Cam!kaze, Flip Kendrick and Pete Wilson, with Generico being pinned for the win by Hart.[89][90]


NXT (2013–2016)[edit]

In January 2013, Sebei signed with WWE[7][91][92][93][94] after passing all medical tests.[95] On February 13, Sebei made his debut for WWE's developmental territory NXT, but did not wrestle.[96] Sebei's NXT in-ring debut took place at a live event on March 7 in Tampa, Florida, where he wrestled a tag team match while working unmasked and under his real name.[97][98][99]

Sebei eventually settled on the ring name Sami Zayn.[3] Zayn made his televised debut on the May 22 episode of NXT by defeating two former champions in WWE, first defeating Curt Hawkins in the opening match and then challenging and scoring an upset win over Antonio Cesaro later in the show.[100] The following week he took part in an 18-man battle royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship, but was eliminated by Mason Ryan.[101] On the June 12 episode of NXT, Zayn suffered his first pinfall loss in NXT in a rematch with Cesaro.[102] On the July 17 NXT, Zayn failed to win another number one contender's match also involving Cesaro and Leo Kruger.[103] On the July 31 episode of NXT, Zayn teamed with NXT Champion Bo Dallas against Cesaro and Kruger; after Cesaro and Zayn brawled to the back, Dallas lost the match and later blamed Zayn for the loss.[104][105] On the August 21 episode of NXT, Zayn lost to Cesaro in a two-out-of-three falls match to conclude the feud.[106] On September 6, Zayn made his WWE debut at a house show in his hometown of Montreal, where he defeated Cesaro.[107] When Zayn targeted Dallas' NXT Championship, Dallas cost Zayn his match against Cesaro's fellow Real American Jack Swagger.[108] Dallas held an open challenge to determine the next title contender, but he banned Zayn from competing.[109] However, Zayn masqueraded as the masked El Local and defeated Dallas to earn his title shot.[110] The match occurred on the October 16 episode of NXT, but NXT General Manager John Bradshaw Layfield restarted the match when Zayn won despite Dallas' foot being on the ropes and then Dallas sent Zayn into an exposed turnbuckle to retain his title.[111]

In November 2013, after tying a Beat the Clock challenge with Adrian Neville by defeating Leo Kruger,[112] Zayn lost a number one contender's match to Neville on the November 27 episode of NXT.[113] Zayn moved on to feud with Kruger and the feud culminated in Zayn winning a two-out-of-three falls match on the January 1, 2014 episode of NXT.[114] After that, Zayn's obsession with his loss to Cesaro the previous year led to him challenging Cesaro to a rematch at NXT Arrival;[115] At the event, Zayn was defeated again, but Cesaro showed respect to Zayn after the match.[116] Zayn the feuded with Corey Graves, with Zayn losing to Graves via referee stoppage on the April 3 episode of NXT after Graves capitalized on Zayn's head injury.[117] On the May 8 episode of NXT, Zayn participated in a 20-man battle royal for an NXT Championship shot, with Zayn being involved in a triple threat match tie.[118] As a result, Zayn faced the other two winners, Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd in a triple threat match on the next episode of NXT, where Kidd won to become number one contender.[119] At NXT TakeOver, Zayn lost to Breeze in another number one contender's match.[120]

In June 2014, Zayn went on to feud with Tyson Kidd after Kidd abandoned him during their match against NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension.[121] After Zayn defeated Justin Gabriel,[122] both Kidd and Gabriel attacked Zayn, who was saved by his friend, NXT Champion Adrian Neville.[123] Zayn later defeated Kidd twice to end the feud, once in a singles match on the July 17 episode of NXT[124] as well in a tag match with Adam Rose against Gabriel and Kidd, which was the first round of a tournament for an opportunity at the NXT Tag Team Championship.[125] Zayn and Rose lost in the second round to The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara).[126] When Zayn, Kidd and Tyler Breeze each staked a claim for an NXT Championship match, champion Neville agreed to face all three in a fatal-four-way match at the next NXT TakeOver event.[127] To hype that match, Zayn and Neville appeared on the September 8 episode of Raw, defeating Breeze and Kidd while making their main roster debuts.[128]

At NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way, Zayn nearly won the four-way match and the NXT Championship, but champion Neville stopped him by dragging the referee out of the ring as he went on to win and retain his title.[129] This caused tension within Neville and Zayn's friendship.[130][131] After Zayn lost another match, this time to Titus O'Neil, he vowed to start a "road to redemption" leading to the NXT Championship, which saw him defeat Tyson Kidd,[132] Titus O'Neil and Tyler Breeze in singles matches.[133][134] Zayn was rewarded with a title match against Neville on the November 13 episode of NXT in which Neville appeared to injure himself during the match, but he took advantage on Zayn checking on him to win the match and retain the title.[135] Neville agreed to Zayn's request for a title rematch, with Zayn vowing to quit NXT if he lost.[136]

Zayn at the NXT TakeOver: Dallas event in April 2016

On December 11 at the NXT TakeOver: R Evolution live special, Zayn defeated Neville to win the NXT Championship. After the win, Zayn was congratulated by many other NXT wrestlers, including Neville and Kevin Owens (the former Kevin Steen). The show ended with Owens powerbombing Zayn onto the ring apron to ruin their reunion.[137] In his first title defense, Zayn defeated Neville in a rematch on the January 14, 2015, episode of NXT, but suffered another post-match attack by Owens.[138] After an irate Zayn demanded a match against Owens,[139] even if it meant putting the title on the line, a title match was set for NXT TakeOver: Rival.[140] At the event, Owens captured the title from Zayn via referee stoppage, having powerbombed a disorientated Zayn five times, ending his NXT Championship reign at 62 days.[141]

On the May 4 episode of Raw, Zayn was introduced by Bret Hart as John Cena's opponent for his weekly "U.S. Open Challenge" for his United States Championship;[142] taking place in his hometown of Montreal, Zayn was heavily favored by the crowd over Cena, but ultimately lost the match. After the match, Cena let Zayn have the ring to an outstanding ovation from the live crowd following the match.[143] However, Zayn had injured his shoulder before the match and underwent an MRI for further analysis.[144][145] At NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Zayn's NXT Championship rematch against Kevin Owens ended in a no contest when Zayn was unable to continue the match. Owens continued assaulting Zayn until the debuting Samoa Joe made the save.[146]

After a seven-month hiatus, Zayn returned from injury on the December 23 episode of NXT (taped at the NXT TakeOver: London event on December 16) and defeated Tye Dillinger.[147] On April 1, Zayn lost to Shinsuke Nakamura in the latter's debut match at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, after which both were given a standing ovation and while Nakamura left the ring he was left waving goodbyes to the NXT fans, signaling his final appearance in NXT.[148]

Championship pursuits (2016–2017)[edit]

On January 24, 2016 at the Royal Rumble, Zayn competed in the Rumble match as the number 20 entrant, eliminating Kevin Owens before being eliminated by Braun Strowman.[149] On the March 7 episode of Raw, Zayn made a surprise return to the main roster and attacked Owens, who was attempting to attack Neville after their match.[150] This led to a tag team match, on SmackDown, in which Zayn and Neville defeated Owens and The Miz.[151] Zayn continued to score victories against the likes of The Miz and Stardust.[152][153][154] At WrestleMania 32, Zayn competed against Owens, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, which was won by Ryder.[155][156] On the April 4 episode of Raw, Zayn was scheduled to compete in a fatal four-way match against Owens, AJ Styles, and Chris Jericho to determine the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but was attacked by Owens, who attacked him with a Powerbomb through a table backstage, and replaced by a returning Cesaro.[157] Because of the actions of Owens, Shane McMahon gave Zayn another opportunity on the April 11 episode of Raw to become a number one contender by having him face Styles, who had won the contender's match the week before, but Zayn lost to Styles.[158] On the April 18 episode of Raw, McMahon booked Zayn and Owens in a match at Payback, which Owens won.[159] On the May 9 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated The Miz to enter a fatal four-way match for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules,[160] but Miz retained the title.[161] On the May 23 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Sheamus to qualify for the 2016 Money in the Bank ladder match,[162] but he was unsuccessful as the briefcase was won by Dean Ambrose.[163]

Zayn at a WWE live event in September 2016

On July 19 at the 2016 WWE draft, Zayn was drafted to Raw.[164] At Battleground, Zayn defeated Owens.[165] At SummerSlam, Zayn and Neville defeated The Dudley Boyz on the Kickoff Show. On the September 12 Raw, Zayn appeared on Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel segment, where he was attacked by Jericho,[166] leading to a match at Clash of Champions, where Zayn lost to Jericho.[167] On the October 17 episode of Raw, Zayn began a feud with Braun Strowman after preventing him from confronting Raw General Manager Mick Foley. On the October 31 episode of Raw, Zayn participated in a battle royal to qualify for Team Raw at Survivor Series, but was last eliminated by Strowman. On the November 1 episode of SmackDown Live, Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler made an open challenge to any wrestler from the Raw brand. On the November 7 episode of Raw, Zayn stated that Mick Foley wanted him to face Ziggler, but Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, who preferred Rusev, made Zayn face Rusev with the winner going on to face Ziggler for the title and he then defeated Rusev to earn the title match. On the November 15 episode of SmackDown Live, The Miz defeated Ziggler for the championship and Zayn instead faced The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series, which Zayn lost (had Zayn won, the championship would have transferred to Raw). On the November 21 episode of Raw, Mick Foley ordered Zayn to compete in a match with Braun Strowman as punishment for failing to bring the Intercontinental Championship to Raw. Strowman attacked Zayn before the match and attacked him until Foley came out to stop the match. On the November 28 episode of Raw during Stroman's match, Zayn attacked Strowman, which led to a faceoff between him and Foley. On the December 12 episode of Raw, after Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal, he refused to be traded to SmackDown and wanted a match with Strowman—the match was made for Roadblock: End of the Line with a time limit of 10 minute, which Zayn won after completing 10 minutes. On the January 2, 2017 episode of Raw, Zayn lost a Last Man Standing match to Strowman, ending the feud.

On the January 23 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Seth Rollins to win Rollins' opportunity in the Royal Rumble match after Rollins was distracted by Triple H. In the 2017 Royal Rumble, Zayn entered at number 8 and lasted over 47 minutes before being eliminated by The Undertaker. On the January 30 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated United States Champion Chris Jericho in a non-title match, but failed to win the title the following week. On the February 13 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Rusev. After the match, Zayn responded to comments made by Samoa Joe during a backstage interview. Zayn was cut off by Joe's music, and the latter ambushed him, attacking Zayn before applying the Coquina Clutch on him. Zayn faced Joe at Fastlane in a losing effort[168] and continued feuding with Joe the next night. On the next Raw, Zayn and Jericho defeated Owens and Joe by disqualification after Owens and Joe attacked Jericho. On the March 20 episode of Raw, when then Raw General Manager Mick Foley was fired by Stephanie McMahon, Zayn stood up for Foley and said McMahon should feel ashamed of herself, prompting her to book Zayn in a match with Joe, which Zayn lost by submission.[169] On the March 27 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Owens in a no disqualification match, saving his job and qualifying for Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, which he failed to win.[170]

On 11 April, Zayn was traded to SmackDown as part of the Superstar Shake-up.[171] The following week on SmackDown Live, Zayn failed to become the number one contender for WWE Championship after losing a six-pack challenge match. Zayn defeated Baron Corbin at Backlash. Zayn was later announced as one of the participant in Money in the Bank ladder match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view along with AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura in which he was unsuccessful. Zayn later participated in the Independence Day battle royal for the United States Championship on the July 4 only to lose to AJ Styles, being last to be eliminated. At Battleground, Zayn defeated Mike Kanellis.

Reunion with Kevin Owens (2017–2018)[edit]

On October 8, at Hell in a Cell, Zayn turned into a villainous character for the first time in his career by saving Kevin Owens from an elbow drop off the Hell in a Cell structure through an announcer's table by Shane McMahon, then dragging Owens onto Shane for the pinfall.[172] On the October 10 episode of SmackDown Live, Zayn referred to Owens as his "brother" and explained that his actions were due to McMahon not giving Zayn opportunities despite the SmackDown brand being dubbed the "Land of Opportunity".[173] On the October 24 episode of SmackDown Live, Zayn was defeated by Randy Orton for a spot on Team SmackDown to face Team Raw at Survivor Series. At the Survivor Series kick-off show, Zayn and Owens defeated Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango). Later that night, Owens and Zayn interfered in the main event and attacked Shane, but it backfired after Shane attacked both with a steel chair and Orton delivered an RKO to Owens. Owens and Zayn faced Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura in a tag team match at Clash of Champions with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan as special guest referees and their jobs on the line. At the event, they defeated Orton and Nakamura after a fast count by Bryan. Later on, Zayn and Owens both scored non-title victories over WWE Champion AJ Styles on respective episodes of SmackDown Live, thus earning a title opportunity against Styles in a handicap match at the Royal Rumble. Both men failed to win the title at the event. Zayn later stole Tye Dillinger's number 10 spot at the Royal Rumble match, but was eliminated by the eventual winner Shinsuke Nakamura. Zayn later walked out on Kevin Owens during a tag team match against Styles and Nakamura two nights later on SmackDown Live.

Zayn faced Owens on the February 6 episode of SmackDown Live to determine who will face Styles for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. The match ended in a double disqualification after Styles, who was on commentary, attacked Zayn and Owens. This led to SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan scheduling a triple threat match for the WWE Championship involving both Owens and Zayn. Zayn then said that he would lay down for Owens but in a fatal five-way match, Zayn ended up pinning Owens after a Helluva Kick. At Fastlane, AJ Styles was victorious in the six-pack challenge. On the March 20 episode of SmackDown, Zayn and Owens were (kayfabe) fired by Bryan as punishment for an attack against McMahon the week prior. Zayn and Owens attacked Bryan after the announcement. At WrestleMania 34, Owens and Zayn were defeated by Bryan and McMahon (had Zayn and Owens won, they would have been rehired to SmackDown).[174]

On the Raw following WrestleMania, Zayn and Owens, as free agents, would ask Raw General Manager Kurt Angle for a job, Though reluctant, Angle would make a match between the two, with the winner earning a Raw contract, however, the match would end in a no contest, leaving Zayn and Owens to remain free agents. On the April 16 episode of Raw, Zayn and Owens would be awarded Raw contracts by Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. Later that night, they would be put in a 10-man tag team match, teaming with The Miz and the Miztourage (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) against Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins and Bobby Roode in a losing effort. Zayn then entered a short feud with Bobby Lashley where Zayn mocked Lashley's family and questioned his military service.[175] At Money in the Bank, Zayn lost to Lashley.[176] After the event, it was reported that Zayn had surgery to repair both of his rotator cuffs.[177]

In other media[edit]

Zayn made his video game debut in WWE 2K15 and has his own path in the "Who Got NXT" mode for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, documenting his matches in NXT.[178] He is also a playable character in WWE 2K16, WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18 and will be featured in the upcoming WWE 2K19.

Zayn's WWE entrance theme was played after every Edmonton Oilers victory on home ice during the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.[179]

Personal life[edit]

Sebei was born in Laval, Quebec, Canada to Syrian parents.[180] who moved from Homs to Canada in the 1970s.[181] He is a Muslim[182] and is trilingual speaking Arabic, French and English fluently. In July 2017, Sami set up a fund called Sami for Syria to support the Syrian American Medical Society in which he has raised over $91,000 so far.[183][184]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

El Generico celebrating his Chikara Rey de Voladores win in April 2011

Luchas de Apuestas record[edit]

Winner (wager) Loser (wager) Location Event Date Notes
El Generico (mask) Kevin Steen (contract) New York City, New York Final Battle December 18, 2010 This was an Unsanctioned Fight Without Honor[42]
Sami Zayn (career) Adrian Neville (title) Winter Park, Florida NXT TakeOver: R Evolution December 11, 2014


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