Rami Sebei (born July 12, 1984) is a Canadian professional wrestler of Syrian descent, currently signed to WWE under the ring name Sami Zayn. Sebei is best known for his work on the independent circuit under the ring name El Generico, using the gimmick of a luchador from Mexico. His character's catch phrase, "Olé!", was particularly made popular by the opening vocals of his theme song, "Olé!" by The Bouncing Souls. He worked under a mask from his debut in 2002 until 2013, when he signed with WWE and began to wrestle without a mask in the promotion's developmental territory, NXT Wrestling.
- 1 NXT History
- 2 In other media
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Championships and accomplishments
NXT Champion (2013–2015)
Zayn during his time in NXT, where he won the NXT Championship In January 2013, Sebei signed with WWE after passing all medical tests. On February 13, Sebei made his debut for WWE's developmental territory NXT, but did not wrestle. Sebei's NXT in-ring debut took place at a live event on March 7 in Tampa, Florida, where he wrestled a tag team match while working unmasked and under his real name. Sebei eventually settled on the ring name Sami Zayn. Zayn made his televised debut on the May 22 episode of NXT by defeating two former champions in WWE, first defeating Curt Hawkins in the opening match and then challenging and scoring an upset win over Antonio Cesaro later in the show. The following week he took part in an 18-man battle royal to determine the number one contender to the NXT Championship, but was eliminated by Mason Ryan. On the June 12 episode of NXT, Zayn suffered his first pinfall loss in NXT in a rematch with Cesaro. On the July 17 NXT, Zayn failed to win another number one contender's match also involving Cesaro and Leo Kruger. On the July 31 episode of NXT, Zayn teamed with NXT Champion Bo Dallas against Cesaro and Kruger; after Cesaro and Zayn brawled to the back, Dallas lost the match and later blamed Zayn for the loss. On the August 21 episode of NXT, Zayn lost to Cesaro in a two-out-of-three falls match to conclude the feud. On September 6, Zayn made his WWE debut at a house show in his hometown of Montreal, where he defeated Cesaro. When Zayn targeted Dallas' NXT Championship, Dallas cost Zayn his match against Cesaro's fellow Real American Jack Swagger. Dallas held an open challenge to determine the next title contender, but he banned Zayn from competing. However, Zayn masqueraded as the masked El Local and defeated Dallas to earn his title shot. The match occurred on the October 16 episode of NXT, but NXT General Manager John Bradshaw Layfield restarted the match when Zayn won despite Dallas' foot being on the ropes and then Dallas sent Zayn into an exposed turnbuckle to retain his title.
In November 2013, after tying a Beat the Clock challenge with Adrian Neville by defeating Leo Kruger, Zayn lost a number one contender's match to Neville on the November 27 episode of NXT. Zayn moved on to feud with Kruger and the feud culminated in Zayn winning a two-out-of-three falls match on the January 1, 2014 episode of NXT. After that, Zayn's obsession with his loss to Cesaro the previous year led to him challenging Cesaro to a rematch at NXT Arrival; At the event, Zayn was defeated again, but Cesaro showed respect to Zayn after the match. Zayn then feuded with Corey Graves, with Zayn losing to Graves via referee stoppage on the April 3 episode of NXT after Graves capitalized on Zayn's head injury. On the May 8 episode of NXT, Zayn participated in a 20-man battle royal for an NXT Championship shot, with Zayn being involved in a triple threat match tie. As a result, Zayn faced the other two winners, Tyler Breeze and Tyson Kidd in a triple threat match on the next episode of NXT, where Kidd won to become number one contender. At NXT TakeOver, Zayn lost to Breeze in another number one contender's match.
In June 2014, Zayn went on to feud with Tyson Kidd after Kidd abandoned him during their match against NXT Tag Team Champions The Ascension. After Zayn defeated Justin Gabriel, both Kidd and Gabriel attacked Zayn, who was saved by his friend, NXT Champion Adrian Neville. Zayn later defeated Kidd twice to end the feud, once in a singles match on the July 17 episode of NXT as well in a tag match with Adam Rose against Gabriel and Kidd, which was the first round of a tournament for an opportunity at the NXT Tag Team Championship. Zayn and Rose lost in the second round to The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto and Sin Cara). When Zayn, Kidd and Tyler Breeze each staked a claim for an NXT Championship match, champion Neville agreed to face all three in a fatal-four-way match at the next NXT TakeOver event. To hype that match, Zayn and Neville appeared on the September 8 episode of Raw, defeating Breeze and Kidd while making their main roster debuts.
At NXT TakeOver: Fatal 4-Way, Zayn nearly won the four-way match and the NXT Championship, but champion Neville stopped him by dragging the referee out of the ring as he went on to win and retain his title. This caused tension within Neville and Zayn's friendship. After Zayn lost another match, this time to Titus O'Neil, he vowed to start a "road to redemption" leading to the NXT Championship, which saw him defeat Tyson Kidd, Titus O'Neil and Tyler Breeze in singles matches. Zayn was rewarded with a title match against Neville on the November 13 episode of NXT in which Neville appeared to injure himself during the match, but he took advantage on Zayn checking on him to win the match and retain the title. Neville agreed to Zayn's request for a title rematch, with Zayn vowing to quit NXT if he lost.
On December 11 at the NXT TakeOver: R Evolution live special, Zayn defeated Neville to win the NXT Championship. After the win, Zayn was congratulated by many other NXT wrestlers, including Neville and Kevin Owens (the former Kevin Steen). The show ended with Owens powerbombing Zayn onto the ring apron to ruin their reunion.
In his first title defense, Zayn defeated Neville in a rematch on the January 14, 2015, episode of NXT, but suffered another post-match attack by Owens. After an irate Zayn demanded a match against Owens, even if it meant putting the title on the line, a title match was set for NXT TakeOver: Rival. At the event, Owens captured the title from Zayn via referee stoppage, having powerbombed a disorientated Zayn five times, ending his NXT Championship reign at 62 days.
Feud with Kevin Owens (2015–2017)
Zayn at the NXT TakeOver: Dallas event in April 2016 On the May 4 episode of Raw, Zayn was introduced by Bret Hart as John Cena's opponent for his weekly "U.S. Open Challenge" for his United States Championship; taking place in his hometown of Montreal, Zayn was heavily favored by the crowd over Cena, but ultimately lost the match. After the match, Cena let Zayn have the ring to an outstanding ovation from the live crowd following the match. However, Zayn had injured his shoulder before the match and underwent an MRI for further analysis. At NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Zayn's NXT Championship rematch against Kevin Owens ended in a no contest when Zayn was unable to continue the match. Owens continued assaulting Zayn until the debuting Samoa Joe made the save. After a seven-month hiatus, Zayn returned from injury on the December 23 episode of NXT (taped at the NXT TakeOver: London event on December 16) and defeated Tye Dillinger. On April 1, Zayn lost to Shinsuke Nakamura in the latter's debut match at NXT TakeOver: Dallas, after which both were given a standing ovation and while Nakamura left the ring he was left waving goodbyes to the NXT fans, signaling his final appearance in NXT.
On January 24, 2016 at the Royal Rumble, Zayn competed in the Rumble match as the number 20 entrant, eliminating Kevin Owens before being eliminated by Braun Strowman. On the March 7 episode of Raw, Zayn made a surprise return to the main roster and attacked Owens, who was attempting to attack Neville after their match. This led to a tag team match, on SmackDown, in which Zayn and Neville defeated Owens and The Miz. Zayn continued to score victories against the likes of The Miz and Stardust. At WrestleMania 32, Zayn competed against Owens, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder in a ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship, which was won by Ryder. On the April 4 episode of Raw, Zayn was scheduled to compete in a fatal four-way match against Owens, AJ Styles, and Chris Jericho to determine the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but was attacked by Owens, who attacked him with a Powerbomb through a table backstage, and replaced by a returning Cesaro. Because of the actions of Owens, Shane McMahon gave Zayn another opportunity on the April 11 episode of Raw to become a number one contender by having him face Styles, who had won the contender's match the week before, but Zayn lost to Styles. On the April 18 episode of Raw, McMahon booked Zayn and Owens in a match at Payback, which Owens won. On the May 9 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated The Miz to enter a fatal four-way match for the Intercontinental Championship at Extreme Rules, but Miz retained the title. On the May 23 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Sheamus to qualify for the 2016 Money in the Bank ladder match, but he was unsuccessful as the briefcase was won by Dean Ambrose. On July 19 at the 2016 WWE draft, Zayn was drafted to Raw. At Battleground, Zayn defeated Owens. Zayn at a WWE live event in September 2016 At SummerSlam, Zayn and Neville defeated The Dudley Boyz on the Kickoff Show. On the September 12 Raw, Zayn appeared on Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel segment, where he was attacked by Jericho, leading to a match at Clash of Champions, where Zayn lost to Jericho. On the October 17 episode of Raw, Zayn began a feud with Braun Strowman after preventing him from confronting Raw General Manager Mick Foley. On the October 31 episode of Raw, Zayn participated in a battle royal to qualify for Team Raw at Survivor Series, but was last eliminated by Strowman. On the November 1 episode of SmackDown Live, Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler made an open challenge to any wrestler from the Raw brand. On the November 7 episode of Raw, Zayn stated that Mick Foley wanted him to face Ziggler, but Commissioner Stephanie McMahon, who preferred Rusev, made Zayn face Rusev with the winner going on to face Ziggler for the title and he then defeated Rusev to earn the title match. On the November 15 episode of SmackDown Live, The Miz defeated Ziggler for the championship and Zayn instead faced The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship at Survivor Series, which Zayn lost (had Zayn won, the championship would have transferred to Raw). On the November 21 episode of Raw, Mick Foley ordered Zayn to compete in a match with Braun Strowman as punishment for failing to bring the Intercontinental Championship to Raw. Strowman attacked Zayn before the match and attacked him until Foley came out to stop the match. On the November 28 episode of Raw during Stroman's match, Zayn attacked Strowman, which led to a faceoff between him and Foley. On the December 12 episode of Raw, after Zayn defeated Jinder Mahal, he refused to be traded to SmackDown and wanted a match with Strowman—the match was made for Roadblock: End of the Line with a time limit of 10 minutes, which Zayn won after completing 10 minutes. On the January 2, 2017 episode of Raw, Zayn lost a Last Man Standing match to Strowman, ending the feud.
On the January 23 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Seth Rollins to win Rollins' opportunity in the Royal Rumble match after Rollins was distracted by Triple H. In the 2017 Royal Rumble, Zayn entered at number 8 and lasted over 47 minutes before being eliminated by The Undertaker. On the January 30 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated United States Champion Chris Jericho in a non-title match, but failed to win the title the following week. On the February 13 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Rusev. After the match, Zayn responded to comments made by Samoa Joe during a backstage interview. Zayn was cut off by Joe's music, and the latter ambushed him, attacking Zayn before applying the Coquina Clutch on him. Zayn faced Joe at Fastlane in a losing effort and continued feuding with Joe the next night. On the next Raw, Zayn and Jericho defeated Owens and Joe by disqualification after Owens and Joe attacked Jericho. On the March 20 episode of Raw, when then Raw General Manager Mick Foley was fired by Stephanie McMahon, Zayn stood up for Foley and said McMahon should feel ashamed of herself, prompting her to book Zayn in a match with Joe, which Zayn lost by submission. On the March 27 episode of Raw, Zayn defeated Owens in a no disqualification match to end their feud, saving his job and qualifying for Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 33, which he failed to win.
On April 11, Zayn was traded to SmackDown as part of the Superstar Shake-up. The following week on SmackDown Live, Zayn failed to become the number one contender for WWE Championship after losing a six-pack challenge match. Zayn defeated Baron Corbin at Backlash. Zayn was later announced as one of the participant in Money in the Bank ladder match at the Money in the Bank pay-per-view along with AJ Styles, Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura in which he was unsuccessful. Zayn later participated in the Independence Day battle royal for the United States Championship on the July 4 only to lose to AJ Styles, being last to be eliminated. At Battleground, Zayn defeated Mike Kanellis.
Teaming with Kevin Owens (2017–2019)
On October 8, at Hell in a Cell, Zayn turned heel by saving Kevin Owens from an elbow drop off the Hell in a Cell structure through an announcer's table by Shane McMahon, then dragging Owens onto Shane for the pinfall. On the October 10 episode of SmackDown Live, Zayn referred to Owens as his "brother" and explained that his actions were due to McMahon not giving Zayn opportunities despite the SmackDown brand being dubbed the "Land of Opportunity".
On the October 24 episode of SmackDown Live, Zayn was defeated by Randy Orton for a spot on Team SmackDown to face Team Raw at Survivor Series. At the Survivor Series kick-off show, Zayn and Owens defeated Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango). Later that night, Owens and Zayn interfered in the main event and attacked Shane, but it backfired after Shane attacked both with a steel chair and Orton delivered an RKO to Owens. Owens and Zayn faced Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura in a tag team match at Clash of Champions with SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon and SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan as special guest referees and their jobs on the line. At the event, they defeated Orton and Nakamura after a fast count by Bryan. Later on, Zayn and Owens both scored non-title victories over WWE Champion AJ Styles on respective episodes of SmackDown Live, thus earning a title opportunity against Styles in a handicap match at the Royal Rumble. Both men failed to win the title at the event. Zayn later stole Tye Dillinger's number 10 spot at the Royal Rumble match but was eliminated by the eventual winner Shinsuke Nakamura.
Zayn later walked out on Kevin Owens during a tag team match against Styles and Nakamura two nights later on SmackDown Live. Zayn faced Owens on the February 6 episode of SmackDown Live to determine who will face Styles for the WWE Championship at Fastlane. The match ended in a double disqualification after Styles, who was on commentary, attacked Zayn and Owens. This led to SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan scheduling a triple threat match for the WWE Championship involving both Owens and Zayn. Zayn then said that he would lay down for Owens but in a fatal five-way match, Zayn ended up pinning Owens after a Helluva Kick. At Fastlane, AJ Styles was victorious in the six-pack challenge. On the March 20 episode of SmackDown, Zayn and Owens were (kayfabe) fired by Bryan as punishment for an attack against McMahon the week prior. Zayn and Owens attacked Bryan after the announcement. At WrestleMania 34, Owens and Zayn were defeated by Bryan and McMahon (had Zayn and Owens won, they would have been rehired to SmackDown).
On the Raw following WrestleMania, Zayn and Owens, as free agents, would ask Raw General Manager Kurt Angle for a job, Though reluctant, Angle would make a match between the two, with the winner earning a Raw contract, however, the match would end in a no contest, leaving Zayn and Owens free agents. On the April 16 episode of Raw, Zayn and Owens would be awarded Raw contracts by Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon. Later that night, they would be put in a 10-man tag team match, teaming with The Miz and the Miztourage (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel) against Braun Strowman, Bobby Lashley, Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins and Bobby Roode in a losing effort. Zayn then entered a short feud with Bobby Lashley where Zayn mocked Lashley's family and questioned his military service. At Backlash, Zayn and Owens lost to Lashley and Strowman. At Money in the Bank, Zayn lost to Lashley. After the event, it was reported that Zayn had surgery to repair both of his rotator cuffs. He was later reported to have undergone a successful double shoulder surgery.
In December, WWE begun airing vignettes to promote Zayn's return. As of early 2019, Zayn was training at the WWE Performance Center preparing for his return to action.
After ten months of inactivity due to injury, Zayn returned on the April 8, 2019 episode of Raw, losing to Intercontinental Champion Finn Bálor. After losing the match, Zayn got on the microphone and said that he felt like the crowd missed him, but he reassured them that he did not miss them at all, and Zayn went on to ridicule the fans and ended his promo with, "see you in hell" before he went backstage. Zayn continued these type of promos over the following weeks, with Zayn ranting to the audience and this led to Braun Strowman attacking him on the May 6 episode of Raw. The following week, Zayn defeated Strowman with the help of Baron Corbin and Drew McIntyre, earning Strowman's spot in the Money in the Bank ladder match. At Money in the Bank, Zayn was attacked backstage and left unable to compete by what was believed to be Braun Strowman, however it was later revealed to be Brock Lesnar, who took Zayn's place in the match. After this event, Zayn reformed his tag team with Kevin Owens, where they defeated The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) at Stomping Grounds. However, the team of Zayn and Owens drifted apart again, after Owens turned face and reignited his feud with Shane McMahon. After their team disbanded, Zayn lost to Rey Mysterio twice, first at Raw Reunion, and second in the gauntlet match the following week. Zayn then competed in the King of the Ring tournament, but lost in the first round to Cedric Alexander. By that point, Zayn had lost fifteen out of his last sixteen televised singles matches.
Artist Collective and Intercontinental Champion (2019–2020)
Main article: Artist Collective
On the August 20 episode of SmackDown Live, Zayn joined forces with Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura, as they attacked The Miz on an episode of Miz TV. Zayn was positioned as Nakamura's mouthpiece. Zayn then managed Nakamura against Miz at Clash of Champions, where he involved himself in the finish securing the win for Nakamura. As part of the 2019 draft, Zayn was drafted to the SmackDown brand. Following the draft, he would also become the manager of Cesaro. At Survivor Series, Zayn accompanied Nakamura in a non-title match against United States Champion AJ Styles and NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong, which was won by Strong. On the January 31, 2020 episode of SmackDown, Nakamura lost the title to Braun Strowman, despite interferences from Zayn and Cesaro.
At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view on March 8, Zayn, along with Nakamura and Cesaro, defeated Braun Strowman in 3-on-1 handicap match to win the Intercontinental Championship, ending his 5-year WWE title drought since he won the NXT Championship.
On the March 13 episode of SmackDown, Sami Zayn began a feud with Daniel Bryan, during which Bryan and Drew Gulak faced Zayn's Artist Collective partners Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro in various matches. Eventually, Bryan and Zayn would face each other at WrestleMania 36, where Zayn defeated Bryan to retain the title. His reign would end at 65 days on May 12, when he was stripped of the championship after refraining from competing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 28 episode of SmackDown, Zayn returned with his Intercontinental title, the title he refused to drop, following Jeff Hardy's successful title defense against Nakamura and attacked Hardy declaring himself the "real" Intercontinental Champion. Later at the show, Zayn reunited with Cesaro and Nakamura backstage; however, Cesaro dismissed him from the locker room so that he and Nakamura could have some discussion by themselves. At Clash of Champions on September 27, Zayn defeated Hardy and AJ Styles in a triple threat ladder match to reclaim the Intercontinental Championship by handcuffing both with the ladders. On the October 2 episode of SmackDown, Zayn defeated Hardy to retain the title. On the November 13 episode of SmackDown, Zayn defeated Apollo Crews by countout to retain the title. On November 22 at Survivor Series, Zayn was defeated by United States Champion Bobby Lashley. On December 25 episode of SmackDown, he lost the Intercontinental title to Big E, thus ending his second reign at 89 days.
Conspiracy theory (2021–present)
At the Royal Rumble, Zayn competed in his fourth Royal Rumble match but was eliminated by Big E. On the February 12 episode of SmackDown, Zayn and King Corbin defeated Dominik and Rey Mysterio to qualify for the Elimination Chamber match. At the event, Zayn was the second man eliminated in the match by Kevin Owens. Following the event, his gimmick would be tweaked into a deranged conspiracy theorist who believed that WWE bosses were holding him down. Soon after, he would reignite his feud with Owens after trying unsuccessfully to convince Owens to believe in the conspiracy theories. Owens challenged Zayn to a match at WrestleMania 37, which Zayn accepted. At the event, Zayn would be defeated by Owens. Over the following weeks, Owens and Zayn would rekindle their feud leading to a match at Hell in a Cell in which Zayn defeated Owens.
In other media
Zayn is a playable character in the video games WWE 2K15, WWE 2K16, WWE 2K17, WWE 2K18, WWE 2K19, WWE 2K20 and WWE 2K Battlegrounds.
Sebei is known for being quiet about his private life. He is married and has a child. He is a Muslim and a vegan, and is fluent in English, Arabic, and French. Sebei is also best friends with fellow professional wrestler Kevin Steen, better known currently in WWE as Kevin Owens. Their friendship has been well documented, dating back to 2002.
In July 2017, Sebei set up a fund called Sami for Syria to support the Syrian American Medical Society.
Sebei endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
Championships and accomplishments
El Generico celebrating his Chikara Rey de Voladores win in April 2011
- Association de Lutte Féminine
- Sensational Sherri Memorial Cup Tournament (2007) – with LuFisto
- The Baltimore Sun
- WWE Match of the Year (2016) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT TakeOver: Dallas
- Britannia Wrestling Promotions
- PWI:BWP World Catchweight Championship (1 time)
- Rey de Voladores (2011)
- DDT Pro-Wrestling / Union Pro Wrestling
- DDT Extreme Championship (1 time)
- KO-D Openweight Championship (1 time)
- Best Foreigner Award (2012)
- Elite Wrestling Revolution
- Elite 8 Tournament (2004)
- GBG Wrestling
- GBG Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- International Wrestling Syndicate
- IWS World Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
- IWS World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Twiggy
- Monteregie Wrestling Federation
- MWF Provincial Championship (1 time)
- North Shore Pro Wrestling
- NSPW Championship (1 time)
- Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- PWG World Championship (2 times)
- PWG World Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Human Tornado (1), Quicksilver (1), Kevin Steen (2), and Paul London (1)
- Battle of Los Angeles (2011)
- Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament (2010) – with Paul London
- Pro Wrestling Illustrated
- Ranked No. 23 of the top 500 singles wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2015
- Pro Wrestling Prestige
- PWP Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- Puerto Rico Wrestling Association
- PRWA Caribbean Championship (1 time)
- Ring of Honor
- ROH World Television Championship (1 time)
- ROH World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Kevin Steen
- SoCal Uncensored
- Match of the Year (2006) vs. PAC, November 18, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- Match of the Year (2007) vs. Bryan Danielson, July 29, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla
- Most Outstanding Wrestler (2006, 2007)
- Tag Team of the Year (2006) with Quicksilver
- Wrestler of the Year (2007)
- STHLM Wrestling
- STHLM Wrestling Championship (1 time)
- Westside Xtreme Wrestling
- wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship (1 time)
- 16 Carat Gold Tournament (2012)
- Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Feud of the Year (2010) vs. Kevin Steen
- Shad Gaspard/Jon Huber Memorial Award (2020)
- NXT Championship (1 time)
- WWE Intercontinental Championship (2 times)
- Slammy Award (1 time)
- NXT Superstar of the Year (2014)
|Male Wrestlers||Adrian Neville • Aiden English • Alexander Rusev • Bo Dallas • Corey Graves • Danny Burch • Konnor • Leo Kruger • Mason Ryan • Mojo Rawley • Oliver Grey • Sami Zayn • Sylvester Lefort • Tyler Breeze • Viktor|
|Female Wrestlers||Bayley • Charlotte • Jojo • Lana • Paige • Sasha Banks|