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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Was Sami Zayn Better than Roman Reigns in 2022?

January 8, 2023 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Smackdown Roman Reigns Sami Zayn, Paul Heyman Image Credit: WWE

Welcome back to the 411mania Wrestling Fact or Fiction. I’m your host Jake Chambers.

This week we’re kicking off the (semi) annual Larry Csonka Memorial 411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction Tournament!

All 411 readers loved Larry – the legendary reviewer and ambassador of the site – and we miss his insights, humor, uncompromising perspective and pure love of pro-wrestling – all attributes writers should bring to the this debate column that he hosted for so many years.

For this first round match up I’ve invited back Thomas Hall, finalist in the 2021 tournament and a reviewer here for all the major weekly shows and monthly events.


Challenging him for a spot in the 2023 finals is Rob Stewart, a reviewer with an off-beat, stream-of-consciousness style at times who dabbles in comics, movies and wrestling here at 411.


These guys are ready to do battle in tribute to the great Larry Csonka, so let’s get it on!

Participants were told to expect wrestling-related content, as well as possible statements on quantum physics, homemade pharmaceuticals, the Turtle Total Trip Theorem, pizza and hydroponics.

Statement #1: Sami Zayn had a better 2022 than Roman Reigns.

Rob Stewart: FICTION – Make no mistake that Sami had a tremendous 2022 that saw him emerge from the midcard as a “good hand” comedy heel and become a legitimate main event possibility. In the first half of the year, there is no way you could say “Sami should be the guy to beat Reigns” and have anything but blatant favoritism on your side. But the back end of the year with his impeccable work in The Bloodline story has changed all that.

The problem with going Fact for me though is two-fold: First, Roman had an unimpeachable 2022. Top-to-bottom, he put in great work. Fantastic promos, entertaining matches. He was the complete package. Sami, meanwhile, didn’t have the best start to the year. He had a silly feud with Johnny Knoxville at WrestleMania, and was eminently forgotten those first several months. So for the FULL body of 2022 work? It’s still Roman.

Thomas Hall: FICTION – Here’s the thing: it’s the entirety of 2022, not since he joined the Bloodline. If it was the latter, then this is more up for debate, but other than joining the team and stealing a lot of scenes, Zayn hasn’t really done much. Compare this to Reigns, who has been Universal Champion throughout the year, while retaining at all of the Big Four shows and winning in the main event of three of them. Zayn has been more entertaining and has been a huge highlight, but better than Reigns is too much for even him to pull off.

Statement #2: Bryan Danielson will never be AEW World Champion.

Rob Stewart: FACT – BD being my favorite wrestler of all time, this is sadly a fact. If Bryan hasn’t won the title by now, he pretty much certainly won’t. And you know what? I don’t think he even wants to. It certainly seems that at this stage in his life, Danielson is happy entertaining the fans and putting over other talent. He himself is bulletproof and on the wrong side of 40, so he knows what he has to offer the business, and he is giving it as much as he can. I respect that. If the AEW Title somehow continues to be borderline cursed like it was this past year, there’s always the chance Khan could put the title on BD as a salve in a tough situation, but I think The American Dragon’s role is to make the world title guys look good now. Not go over them.

Thomas Hall: FICTION – If there is one thing that I’ve learned from the last ten or so years of watching wrestling, it is to “never say never”. I wouldn’t have believed CM Punk would return to the ring. I wouldn’t have believed that AEW would have risen up. I wouldn’t have believed that anyone was going to give Pedro Morales’ World Title reign a run for its money. Forever is a long time in wrestling and a Danielson run to the title to cap off his career, or at least as a big AEW moment, would not surprise me whatsoever.

Statement #3: When reviewing a wrestling match you value the variety and innovation of moves over patient and realistic selling.

Rob Stewart: FACT – This is completely subjective, and I actually had to think for a bit which I enjoy more. Don’t get me wrong, both are ingredients to making a stellar match, but honestly? I’m a dork who is easy to stun, so doing stuff I have never seen before–or stuff that makes me think “How does the human body even do that?”–will always get just a bit more out of me than a guy properly selling leg work. Not to detract from the latter at all, and if you say that is higher up for you, I can 100% empathize! But for me… I can’t say I don’t love me some “Wow!” Factor.

Thomas Hall: FICTION – If there was a middle ground between fiction and neutral, it would be this one. Innovation and variety are cool, but I’m much more of a storytelling guy. I can still get into a Ricky Morton or Shawn Michaels match because they draw me in that much more. Having someone go from one cool spot to another at 100mph is a lot of fun, but there isn’t as much staying power to it. I see it as the difference between junk food and a solid meal. One is fun, but the other is a lot more memorable.


Statement #4: Like how Eric Bischoff eventually went to work for WWE, Triple H will one day work in AEW.

Thomas Hall: FICTION – It might go a bit against the “never say never” line from earlier, but for the life of me I can’t imagine this happening. Triple H is a made man in WWE and literally part of the McMahon Family. Outside of a completely stunning development like AEW buying WWE before Triple H retires, I can’t see it. At some point, Triple H just has enough money and doesn’t want the headaches any longer, and I can’t see him starting over at AEW given his situation.

Rob Stewart: FICTION – I for one would be shocked, but I can’t say this is 100% definitively fiction either. The implication seems to be that WWE will go out of business, leading to HHH going to AEW because it is what is left. But that’s not necessarily the only way that will happen. Let’s look at some options:

-WWE goes out of business, so Hunter goes to AEW just to stay working in what he loves. I see no chance of WWE going out of business in my or HHH’s lifetime, so… nah.

-WWE gets sold off by its shareholders since HHH doesn’t own the company or anything. New ownership wants to change the way the company works, so they buy out HHH. WWE still exists in some form, but Hunter is free to pursue other options. Not highly likely unless Vince wants to screw his SIL, but… not impossible, either.

-Hunter remains in control of WWE for the long haul. He has enough sway over the company and a good enough rep in the business to get together with Tony Khan and say “Let’s blow all the fans’ minds and work together for a Forbidden Door the likes of which no one has ever seen”. This is probably the most likely options.

And I’m sure there are 50 scenarios I’m not thinking of. But I think overall, this seems more fiction than fact at his point.

Statement #5: You would rather watch the best wrestling event of the year live than eat at a 3-star Michelin restaurant.

Thomas Hall: FACT – As perhaps the most basic eater this side of Ogallala, Nebraska, the idea of paying obscene amounts of money for a meal that will be over in about an hour makes my soul ache. I could use that money to buy a WCW bowling ball, a WWE Maximum Sweat figure, another WWE toaster (because I already have one), the Nitro cologne, or the Holy Grail of WHY DOES THIS EXIST wrestling merchandise: the Hulk Hogan WCW life raft (I will have you one day). So yeah, give me the wrestling event than the overpriced food any day.

Rob Stewart: FACT – I don’t appreciate great food as much as others do, so this is an easy Fact for me. Also, I’m a picky enough eater that I’m sure I’d be a brat at a fancy restaurant. Conversely, I have loved wrestling for 30 years. So if my options are Wrestle Kingdom / WrestleMania / All Out or… one meal with some overpriced food I may or may not really enjoy.   

Now it’s up to you, 411 readers, who do you think deserves the win and a spot in the tournament finals in a few weeks? Please vote!

Thanks again to Thomas Hall! Be sure to check out his WWE and AEW reviews right here every week.

Thanks as well to Rob Stewart for joining us – definitely head over to his site: https://swoproductions.com/ for great pop culture articles, podcasts, and lists in the same lovably wacky voice he brings to all his 411 columns.

And we will see you next time for another first round match up in the Larry Csonka Memorial 411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction Tournament!

As well, I want to remind everyone reading this that the Go Fund Me set up for Larry’s daughters is still active: https://www.gofundme.com/f/larrymania-living-on-in-his-girls