Introducing Sami Zayn
A big first impression
The NXT talent pool has become a who’s who of WWE’s future Superstars and Divas. From The Shield to Big E Langston, the breeding ground that is the NXT Arena has become a proven success story. For the NXT Universe, one of the joys of watching these hungry athletes is determining who will be next to make a big splash on Raw or SmackDown. On NXT, there’s a budding young Superstar from Montreal who may just top that list of standouts.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” While it’s been said countless times, truly executing its meaning is easier said than done. Sami Zayn set the perfect example of making a lasting impression.
In May, Zayn walked down the ramp of the NXT Arena and scored a victory in his debut match against Curt Hawkins. As impressive as the victory was over the former WWE Tag Team Champion, Zayn’s opportunity to make a bigger impression was just moments away. As fate would have it, WWE Superstar Antonio Cesaro began a verbal tirade over the lack of competition on NXT following his victory over Yoshi Tatsu. Despite being mere minutes removed from his debut match, Zayn not only answered Cesaro’s call for competition, but also managed to pin the former United States Champion.
“His tactics notwithstanding, Cesaro is one of the absolute best,” Zayn told WWE.com. “[Cesaro] is the perfect person to measure yourself against. When it comes to Antonio Cesaro, I welcome the challenge anytime, anyplace.”
The head of the pack
While Cesaro later earned a rematch victory over Zayn, the NXT newcomer quickly solidified himself as a serious contender. And oddly enough, Zayn’s NXT rivalry against Cesaro isn’t the first time these two have locked horns. Since beginning his in-ring career at age 17, Zayn crossed paths with the European Superstar nearly 10 years ago en route to achieving international acclaim on wrestling’s independent scene. Competing primarily while wearing a mask and adopting a highflying luchador style, Zayn developed a significant cult following.
“I patterned my growth after guys like Bret Hart, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, etc. Those were guys who had worked their way around the world, honing their craft before ending up in WWE,” he said. “Wrestling all over the world is something I am incredibly proud of and those trips will stay with me forever. “
As the middle child of five boys to Syrian immigrant parents, Zayn grew up with two passions: “We were five hyperactive kids who loved wrestling and hockey,” he said. “Not much has changed, surprisingly!”
Today, Zayn is the new kid on the block of NXT, but forget any trepidation that comes with the title. Instead, Zayn looks at his newest opportunity as just another day at the office.
“It's a bit funny because I don’t feel like the new kid. I am the new kid, don't get me wrong, it's just that I've been the new guy so many times that I know it well,” Zayn said. “If my history has taught me anything, it'll only be a matter of time before I jump to the head of the pack.”
And if history has taught the NXT Universe well, jumping to the head of the pack could mean success for years to come for Sami Zayn.