Exclusive interview: Sami Zayn suffers torn rotator cuffs, undergoes surgery
Sami Zayn is one of the most active performers in WWE, but he seemed to be holding back from a physical standpoint in the weeks leading up to WWE Money in the Bank, instead opting to attack Bobby Lashley verbally. Now, we know why: The former NXT Champion revealed to WWE.com that he has been competing with injuries to both of his rotator cuffs, and he underwent surgery for the first of them this afternoon. As Zayn begins the recovery process, he spoke with WWE.com about how to tell the difference between a good shoulder and a bad shoulder when both of them are injured, finding his voice on Raw and what we can expect when he returns.
WWE.COM: This is obviously a surprise to the WWE Universe. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve been dealing with.
SAMI ZAYN: Well, right now I’m in Birmingham, Ala. I just underwent surgery for my right shoulder, a.k.a. my good shoulder. So, I’m out for a little while with that. I guess people don’t know about this injury; I’ve been working with it for some time. I don’t know exactly when I tore it. I think I tore it, or initially injured it, on a Montreal Live Event. Which is ironic because I injured my left shoulder — now somewhat famously — in Montreal in my [Raw] debut against John Cena. And at a Live Event this past August wrestling Jinder Mahal, I think I injured it then.
There’s never a good time to get hurt or get surgeries, but I do feel like I was starting to hit my stride and find my voice and find myself as a performer.
- Sami Zayn
But then my left shoulder, a.k.a my bad shoulder, started to act up again as well. That shoulder hasn’t quite been the same since surgery anyway, so I had just kind of gotten used to the fact that that shoulder was the bad one. But it started to get progressively worse, so basically, long story short, it turns out I have two torn rotator cuffs. The left one and the right one are both torn. I just underwent surgery on the right one, and then in about six or seven weeks, I’ll be undergoing surgery on the left one, and hopefully I can come back healthy and happy.
WWE.COM: The surgery went well, then?
ZAYN: The doctors said it went great. I’m in a considerable amount of pain right now, but it’s okay. The first three days, if I remember from my last surgery, are pretty bad, but then after that it’s pretty manageable. It’s just a really slow healing process.
WWE.COM: You mentioned you were competing with the injury for a while, but at what point did you know it was going to require surgery?
ZAYN: As I said when I hurt the right one, I kind of waited on that. I tore my left rotator cuff back in 2009 in a match with Kevin [Owens], and I knew immediately I was hurt. But with these two tears, I remembered a trauma with the right one, but it wasn’t as severe with what I remembered from a rotator cuff tear. It was sort of a nagging thing that bothered me for a few weeks, and I waited for it to get better, and then it didn’t get better. Funny enough, when we were doing tests on my shoulders to see if everything was okay with my right one, my left one turned out to be even worse. And as I had said, that was my “bad” shoulder. So then, the doctor ordered an MRI on my bad shoulder, and that’s when we found out it was torn — the left one, that is.
That one, I honestly don’t know how long it was torn. It never felt the same from when I first came back three years ago. There’s a chance I re-tore it in rehab or it just progressively got worse; I honestly couldn’t tell you. So, I’ve been working with a bad left shoulder for a couple of years now.
I want to come back just as good, if not better, than I've ever been.
- Sami Zayn
WWE.COM: You just had a match with Bobby Lashley, who’s a big, physical performer. Were you worried that you might aggravate the injury against him?
ZAYN: I mean, I would love to be able to blame Bobby Lashley for all my woes, but these injuries go back long before I mixed it up with him — even though lately, I’ve been blaming Bobby Lashley for everything. But this one isn’t on him by any means. I was apprehensive [at WWE Money in the Bank], but it was still manageable. It’s just so weird how you get so used to what we do: I could go in there and wrestle main events on Live Events for 25-30 minutes, but I couldn’t really get the sheets off me in bed. It’s weird how that works. Your body just adapts. And I guess my body’s used to being in the ring and that kind of punishment. It hasn’t been fun, and certainly these next eight months aren’t going to be fun. But hopefully like I said, I can come back healthier than I’ve been in a few years.
WWE.COM: Speaking of running your mouth, you had really just started to hit your stride on the microphone. Do you think you’ll be able to do anything on TV during your recovery that allows you to keep that up?
ZAYN: That’s really not a decision that’s up to me. Because of the timeline, I’d love to be in the mix for WrestleMania season; that’s the most exciting time of the year for all of us. I think timeline wise, I should be ready in time for WrestleMania, so fingers crossed.
There’s never a good time to get hurt or get surgeries, but I do feel like I was starting to hit my stride and find my voice and find myself as a performer. Which is funny, because 16 years in, it’s like I’m rediscovering the art of it in a sense, because I’m doing something I’ve never really done before. So, how I come back, when I come back, that all remains to be seen. But I have a pretty good track record, I’d say overall, and I plan on carrying that forward when I come back. I want to come back just as good, if not better, than I’ve ever been.