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411 Wrestling Fact or Fiction: Will Sami Zayn Ever Main Event Another WWE Premium Live Event?

February 26, 2023 | Posted by Jake Chambers
WWE Smackdown Sami Zayn Image Credit: WWE

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

Today we’re talking a little bit of fallout from the big Elimination Chamber PLE with 411’s Bryan Kristopowitz. You may know Bryan as one of the world’s foremost experts on B movies (or what some of us really consider the A movies), and he proves it on the regular here – including his recent awesome column on the Top 5 Movies Still Not on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Now allow Bryan and myself to go all Scott Adkins on this column!

Statement #1: After losing at Elimination Chamber, Sami Zayn will never have another singles match for a WWE world championship in the main event of a premium live event.

Jake Chambers: FACT – Seems unlikely after the result of that match. Everyone loves Sami, but WWE never presented him seriously as a title contender. They abruptly threw in that challenge from Sami after the Royal Rumble Bloodline break up, but there was no indication in the months leading up to that moment that Sami was any kind of threat for the title, or even really a big match winner.

If you compare this match to similar ones in WWE history – Eddie vs. Brock No Way Out, Mankind vs. The Rock on RAW, or even Punk vs. Cena Money in the Bank – the underdogs going in were still coming off runs as main event level stars, not because of storyline fun but because they won or contended in big matches. And even in all three of those cases, Eddie, Mankind, and Punk didn’t become perennial main eventers afterwards either. Main event world title matches are hard to come by, and I think Sami got his moment and will be back to midcard stories/matches soon.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FACT – The only way Sami Zayn is going to get another world title main event match at a WWE PPV ever again is if the company devotes an extraordinary amount of time to getting him in contention for a title shot, just like the company did for the Elimination Chamber main event. And unless Sami Zayn becomes perpetually over like Daniel Bryan did I just don’t see the WWE doing it again. Now, would it be great if the company could turn Zayn into a sort of utility player/upper mid-card guy that it could plug into a transition PPV world title feud? Yes it would. The WWE needs more guys that. Will that happen? Doubtful.  

Statement #2: Montreal is one of the top 5 wrestling cities in North America.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – Let’s see, New York City and Philadelphia are locks, and you’ve gotta put Mexico City in there, so that leaves two spots for Chicago, somewhere in Florida or Texas, and a Canadian city. Are we really going to say Montreal because there was just that great video package about the history of wrestling in that city when Toronto is right there. Aside from the Wrestlemanias and various WWF/E highlights over the years, let’s not forget it’s also where Lou Thesz beat Buddy Rogers for the NWA title in 1963, and Harley Race beat Terry Funk for that same title in the ’80s. Jay Briscoe and Kevin Steen both won the ROH title in Toronto at amazing events. And Bret Hart used body armour to protect himself from a Goldberg spear, then later won PPV tournament to become WCW champion. Toronto is not just one of the top 5 wrestling cities in the North America, but the world!

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – I’m not sure there are any real “wrestling cities” anymore, at least when it comes to big time pro wrestling. It seems like most cities, big or medium sized get maybe two or three wrestling events a year if they’re lucky and there’s never any real consistency in terms of how the crowd is likely to react to what is presented (not every show from Philadelphia features a hot crowd, for instance). The WWE did a great job making the Elimination Chamber show in Montreal seem like a big deal and a homecoming for Sami Zayn but there was always the chance that the crowd wouldn’t be into it for whatever reason. It’s just how things seem to be now.  

Statement #3: You like the way wrestlers escape a pinfall attempt by moving their shoulder at the last millisecond more than kicking out with their legs.

Jake Chambers: FICTION – This one really bothers me lately. Every dramatic kick-out attempt now seems to be this shock-jerk shoulder/arm move or the even dumber slo-mo shoulder twitch. This goes against all the visual logic of a literal kick-out, where you use the momentum from your legs to leverage the body laterally pressed against your chest and shoulders. If you can’t do that, then you should be pinned. Being able to so easily move your arm and shoulder, especially at the end of epic matches after taking a ton of damage, has got to be the most kayfabe breaking thing across all of pro-wrestling these days (unless you count those insane post-PLE press conferences where the wrestlers literally break kayfabe to answer “questions” from “journalists”).

Maybe this is being too nitpicky, especially in a world where referees never check that shoulders are pinned to the mat anyways, and then pull up at 2 9/10 when clearly most shoulders are still down anyways.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FACT – I’m okay with this because it always works if it’s timed right between the referee and the wrestler lifting his or her shoulder. The only time this scenario stinks for me is when it’s so incredibly obvious that the referee isn’t going to count to three and really belabors that potential “three.” It’s weird to see a wrestler kick out especially after a thirty minute match where both wrestlers have hammered on one another for the entire match. After a certain point an exhausted fighter isn’t going to be able to kick out with any force. He or she is going to be desperate so doing the shoulder thing is what he or she needs to do. I certainly wouldn’t want to see a wrestler do the shoulder thing at the beginning of a match when everyone is fresh. That’s when you kick out.  


Statement #4: There has never been a truly amazing Elimination Chamber match.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – The only Elimination Chamber match that I would call close to amazing is the one where Shayna Bazler beat everyone mostly because it was unexpected. I mean, yeah, it was obvious that she was going to win and go on to wrestle Becky Lynch as that was the big feud, but did I think Bazler would just destroy everyone? No way. The Elimination Chamber, by and large, is like every other big deal gimmick match that the WWE puts on; it’s usually a series of amazing spots that will get people talking afterwards but it’s rarely a great overall match. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Elimination Chamber moved to later in the year so it becomes a kind of Royal Rumble type deal that determines the main event of Summer Slam. At least then it would give the Chamber idea purpose. In an overall sense I’m kind of gimmick matched out.  

Jake Chambers: FACT – I think there’s been a lot of good Elimination Chamber matches but never a true “classic match”. Over the years they really start to blend together, in my opinion. It’s very rare that we get a match like the one Bryan mentioned, or the Goldberg one in 2003, or even the ECW December to Dismember main event, where there is a clear storyline promoted in advance that utilises the Chamber gimmick. Instead, it’s kind of like the whole gimmick is an obstacle course that wrestlers need to use for the same cliche spots: hit some moves on the platforms, push a face into the chains, jump off the pod, smash a guy through the glass, multiple finishers on one opponent. Like, what if rather than another random set of wrestlers going through these motions for the US Title this year, they’d put everyone from the Bloodline story – Roman, Sami, Owens, Jimmy, Jey, Solo – into the Chamber? There would have been so many compelling storyline directions for the writers to explore, and they wouldn’t have needed to do any of the same rote bits we see in every Elimination Chamber year after year.

Statement #5: WWE should keep one Undisputed Universal championship and not have separate RAW and Smackdown champions.

Bryan Kristopowitz: FICTION – In general, I’m not a fan of just having one world champion if there are going to be two separate rosters. The Undisputed Universal champion concept works now because Roman Reigns is the champion and he’s been built into a major deal, but is it going to work with Cody Rhodes or Edge or some other wrestler? I doubt it (it might work with a guy like Brock Lesnar, who is already considered a legit big deal star, but he’s probably the exception to the rule).  So unless the whole brand split/separate rosters thing is going to be done away with the two world titles are going to have to be split up once Reigns loses. I will say that the WWE has done a good job making the US and Intercontinental titles seem more important since Reigns doesn’t work both shows all of the time, but will they maintain their new importance once Reigns is no longer the Universal champion? Maybe, maybe not. In the long run, if the brand split is here to stay, each show really needs its own world title (and tag team titles, too).  

Jake Chambers: FACT – Inevitably, having two titles leads to one wrestler being the more dominant champion in the narrative anyways. As Bryan said, they’ve done such a great job of establishing the secondary championships as the main titles on each show, so why ruin that now? After decades, the IC and US titles actually have an identity and prestige. They MUST keep one floating Universal champion in the template set up by Roman for the long term, in fact, it should be Roman too. Break that Bruno record, or at least come close, it would be legendary!

Thanks again to the inescapable Bryan Kristopowitz! Be sure to check out all of his columns in the Movie Zone, especially the interviews that will always introduce you to new fascinating creators and content – like this one with producer Trace de la Torre.

Next up is the final of the Larry Csonka Memorial Fact or Fiction Tournament! We have our finalists for the big 3-way set… almost! Based on the reader’s poll, Thomas Hall and Jeremy Thomas have advanced; however, the battle between Steve Cook and Robert Leighty Jr. ended in a deadlocked poll. So I’m opening that poll back up for a few more days. If you haven’t voted yet, follow this link, give it a read, and vote for who you think belongs in the finals with Thomas and Jeremy!