The Canadian star grew from the masked “El Generico” on the indie scene to become of the most beloved wrestles on the roster (with a run as a top heel sandwiched in between, showing his incredible range).
He has mastered the character work in the WWE, to add to his fantastic ability in the ring, where he has had five-star level matches against stars like Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and Kevin Owens.
Without further ado, let us take a look at Sami Zayn’s best matches from his WWE career so far, as rated by the users of Cagematch.net.
10. AJ Styles vs Jeff Hardy vs Sami Zayn (WWE Clash Of Champions 2020) – 8.55
In a match that has been likened to Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels, two WWE Intercontinental Championships were on the line at Clash of Champions 2020.
After winning the title from Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 36, Sami Zayn took some time off from wrestling to shield himself during the global pandemic. While he was gone, a new Intercontinental Champion was crowned when Jeff Hardy won the title for the first time since 2007.
When Zayn finally returned in August 2020, he was launched into the middle of a feud between Hardy and his challenger, AJ Styles. This lead to a three-way ladder match with both belts hanging from the arena.
It was a dangerous, spot-heavy match (as you’d expect from a Jeff Hardy ladder match). Sami Zayn took some uge bumps, including a Swanton Bomb from Hardy and big bumps through ladders by AJ Styles. However, he managed to cunningly handcuff Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles together, before climbing the ladder and retrieving both titles, declaring himself the once and always Intercontinental Champion.
9. Money In The Bank Ladder Match (Money In The Bank 2016) – 8.55
Six of the best wrestlers in the WWE put on one of the best ladder matches in the company’s history in 2016, and helped carry on the Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens feud in the WWE.
Zayn competed with Dean Ambrose, Alberto Del Rio, Cesaro, Chris Jericho, and Kevin Owens to win the chance to challenge for the WWE Championship, with each man eager to impress in this chaotic match type.
While Dean Ambrose won the match (and cashed it in on Seth Rollins later that night), it was Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens that were the stars of the show. They continued their history of killing each other in ladder matches, and helped build to their singles match that tore the house down at Battleground (keep reading to find out more).
8., Damian Priest & Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (Payback 2023) – 8.79
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens finally lost the titles they won at WrestleMania 39 (more on that further down the list) in a fantastic street fight at Payback 2023.
The two Canadians went back to their roots to make this bout a pure hockey fight, laying in huge punches to try and knock back the Judgement Day of Damian Priest and Finn Balor.
The crowd was electric for the whole bout, bringing the pure chaos that would have made this fit right in during the Attitude Era. It also had huge bumps, including Kevin Owens doing a huge Swanton Bomb from the crowd and onto his opponents.
7. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd (NXT Takeover: Fatal 4-Way) – 8.92
One of the first NXT matches that made fans sit up and take note was the four-way match for the NXT Championship at Takeover: Fatal 4-Way.
Adrian Neville defended his belt against fan-favorite Sami Zayn, as well as young star Tyler Breeze and the main roster’s Tyson Kidd.
The story of the match was about Zayn trying to finally “win the big one”, but being stopped by the three heels in the match all gunning for their own glory.
Sami Zayn looked set to win the match when he hit Tyson Kidd with a Helluva Kick, but he as thrown out the ring and had the win stolen for him by Adrian Neville (whose match with Zayn for the title will appear later on in this list).
6. Cesaro vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. The Miz (Extreme Rules 2016) – 9.01
One of the best matches of Sami Zayn’s, and the three other men in the match, career was the Fatal 4-Way match between Zayn, Owens, Cesaro and Miz at Extreme Rules 2016.
Ranking at 9.01 out of 10 on Cagematch.net, the bout was a fast-paced, non-stop thrill ride from three of the top in-ring workers in WWE, as well as The Miz.
Zayn spent the bulk of the match focusing his effort onto Kevin Owens, hitting him with a Helluva Kick as soon as the bell rang and continue to pummel him throughout the match.
This gave The Miz the chance to steal the win by pinning Cesaro to retain his WWE Intercontinental Championship.
5. The Usos vs Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens (WrestleMania 39 Night 2) – 9.12
The first ever tag team championship match to main event WrestleMania saw Sami Zayn finally get his revenge against The Bloodline, beating the Usos to end their legendary WWE World Tag Team Championship reign.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, friends turned rivals and back to friends again, hearkened back to their PWG days with a classic spot-fest match in the main event of the first night of WrestleMania 39.
However, just because it was a spot-heavy match, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t filled to the brim with emotion and storytelling. Zayn channeled the emotions of his year-long feud with The Bloodline, cathartically pinning Jey Uso to win the tag team titles alongside Kevin Owens for the first time.
As well as being one of Sami Zayn’s best matches, this match was the first WrestleMania main event to be awarded five stars by Dave Meltzer.
4. Cesaro vs Sami Zayn (NXT ArRival) – 9.24
In their fourth encounter in NXT, Sami Zayn failed to pick up the win over Cesaro in one of the best matches in NXT history.
The two stars had wrestled three times prior in the WWE, with Cesaro holding two wins to Zayn’s one, with this one being considered the rubber match between the duo.
Zayn vs Cesaro lasted exactly 23-minutes, and outdid their previous bouts in spades. Each man had counters for his opponent’s counters, and it presented Cesaro as a beast in the ring while also showing Zayn as the sympathetic babyface, building him up as a star even in defeat.
This was the best of the matches between Cesaro and Sami Zayn in NXT, and was voted as the fourth-best match of Sami Zayn’s career in the WWE so far, on Cagematch.
3. Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn (WWE Battleground 2016) – 9.25
The best match between Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in the WWE was at Battleground 2016, and became one of the best matches WWE put on that year.
After they clashed in the Money in the Bank ladder match a month prior, the long-awaited rematch between the former friends finally came at Battleground 2016, and Zayn vs Owens was given all the time to tell the story they needed to in the ring.
The two wrestlers crammed years worth of emotion into an 18-minute match, that saw some huge power bombs from Owens and some fantastic selling by Zayn.
Finally getting revenge for his losses to Kevin Owens in NXT, Sami Zayn cradled the Canadian in his arms before hitting two Helluva Kicks to pick up his first victory over Owens in the WWE, in the pairs best match against one another.
2. Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover: Dallas) – 9.43
One of the greatest matches the black and gold brand has ever seen, and Sami Zayn’s last NXT match was his incredible bout against the incoming Japanese Legend Shinsuke Nakamura.
Zayn had recently returned to the ring after nearly a year out of the ring, after tearing his shoulder before a match with John Cena on Monday Night Raw. When he came back, he demanded a challenger befitting of his stardom, and NXT General Manager obliged by booking him against the King of Strong Style at NXT Takeover Dallas.
The two had never touched before this match, but as soon as they did, the crowd went bananas. Every punch, kick and hold and cheered like crazy and each man put on a performance of a lifetime in front of one of NXT’s biggest crowds ever. Both men had counters for each other’s counters and hit all their signature moves, much to the delight of the crowd.
The match was the match of the night, and probably the entire Wrestlemania weekend. Zayn lost the bout to Nakamura’s Kinshasa and went on the compete in a seven-way ladder match the next night at Wrestlemania 32. He was unsuccessful in that match too but his performance against Shinsuke Nakamura put him back on the map as one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Sami Zayn vs Shinsuke Nakmura is one of Sami Zayn’s best matches of his incredible run, even if some people don’t rate it as highly as his bout with Adrian Neville.
1. Adrian Neville vs Sami Zayn (NXT Takeover R:Evolution) – 9.45
Voted the greatest Sami Zayn match ever by the users of Cagematch.net, Sami Zayn vs Adrian Neville at NXT TakeOver: R Evolution saw the Canadian star finally achieve his dream of becoming NXT Champion in a match that had everything on the line.
Taking on then-champion Adrian Neville (now AEW’s PAC) in a title-vs-career match, he managed to suppress his wild emotions to pin the Englishman after a Helluva kick and become champion for the first (and so far only) time in his career.
The story of the match saw him fight off the urge to cheat to win, as Neville had done to him multiple times previously, and prove you can be a champion by doing things the right way.
After the match saw Kevin Owens, who debuted earlier on in the show, turn on his friend and power bombed him onto the apron. This begun a feud that would last for years in the company and produce some of the best matches in WWE over the past few years.
BONUS: Sami Zayn Wrestled William Regal In His Last Match
William Regal’s final match in NXT against Cesaro is usually considered his swansong. The incredibly technical bout pitting two of the finest European wrestlers of all time was a dream match for many, and was considered as William Regal’s retirement match.
However, Sami Zayn actually wrestled a match against William Regal, that has only recently been discovered. The pair clashed in the ring in a match in 2014…
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.