At Hell in Cell 2017, we saw Sami Zayn help Kevin Owens win his match against Shane McMahon, turning heel and reigniting his friendship with Owens in the process. After multiple matches in every single promotion they have been, be it as adversaries or partners, Owens and Zayn’s relationship constitutes a more complex, yet clear-cut story than even the legendary back-and-forth’s between Triple H and Shawn Michaels. To celebrate the fact that they are back together as friends, let’s take a look back at the complicated relationship between Zayn and Owens.
To begin with, their story dates all the way back to the early 2000’s. The two were based out of Canada and tried to get into the wrestling business at the same time. The two bonded by the shared passion for the wrestling business and being too good to waste their talents in the smaller pond. They worked for the same places and traveled together in hopes of putting together bodies of work that would impress United States independent promotions. It was apparent to anyone watching the shows that Zayn and Owens were on a different level from the other wrestlers at the smaller shows in Canada.
When they took off and were finally recognized by various independent American wrestling promotions, Zayn and Owens still came as a package. Owens and Zayn made waves in PWG as singles stars, stealing the show with stacked rosters featuring guys like A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan and Samoa Joe. The two new faces earned enough credibility to get booked on the East coast via CZW and Ring of Honor. The latter was a huge step in their careers, letting them come back together once again after starting their on-and-off relationship on the smaller independent scene. The two finally gained their goal of becoming tag team champions at ROH Driven 2008 on PPV in the main event. Their opponents were no small fry, as the two defeated Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), who would go on to be hired by WWE. Fans reacted with one of the biggest ovations in ROH history.
However, the tag team of Kevin Steen and El Generico would not last long, as Steen would soon turn on his friend after a long losing streak. Steen was so believable in his performance and provided a rare moment of fans truly buying into a storyline. Kevin Steen versus El Generico became one of the greatest stories in Ring of Honor history. It also happened to come at the best possible time, with Daniel Bryan and Nigel McGuinness leaving for the bigger companies WWE and TNA. They left a huge void in the company, which was filled by the yearlong feud between Steen and Generico, who would carry the company on their shoulders. Despite attempting to remain apart, the two would wrestle together again during Zayn’s final night on the independent circuit before moving on to the WWE. They reunited one final time at PWG DDT4 2013 in a tag tournament, making it all the way to the finals.
Sami Zayn would be spotlighted as one of the first big stars on NXT, leading to the promotion making waves online thanks to word of mouth regarding his outstanding matches. Things went to the next level when Triple H signed Kevin Owens to be the next big star for NXT. The story of Zayn versus Owens found its way onto WWE television and created stronger interest than ever in the NXT product. The main roster call-ups of Zayn and Owens saw the feud continue in 2016, having one of the best WWE matches of 2016 at Battleground to end their feud for the time being. The incredible moment at the end of the match saw Zayn hold up a beaten Owens and deliver an emotional expression before delivering the knockout kick to get the win. As great as the entire match was, that one moment is what we’ll always remember and that’s the proof that Owens and Zayn know what they are talking about.
From their indie start to the WWE main roster, Owens and Zayn have proven to be valuable commodities. There is a magic between them that always works whenever they’re in a wrestling ring together. Owens and Zayn were meant to tell stories through the art of professional wrestling together. They have battled through the trials and tribulations of the industry together to find their place in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. We shall wait and see what their future holds. For now, lets enjoy their partnership while it lasts!