The careers of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have been linked for as long as they have been relevant on the independent scene. Owens wrestled under his real name of Kevin Steen in various indie promotions and essentially played the same character and persona we witness in the WWE today. However, it 's been a completely different career path for Zayn. Before WWE signed him, Zayn played the masked character of El Generico as a Mexican luchador that struggled to speak Spanish. Steen and Generico became the most popular tag team on the free agent market as a beloved odd couple.
WWE ended up signing them both at different time periods, leading to huge success. From NXT to the main roster, Owens and Zayn have proven to be valuable commodities. There is a magic between them that always works whenever they're in a wrestling ring together. Owens and Zayn were meant to tell stories through the art of professional wrestling together. They have battled through the trials and tribulations of the industry together to find their place in the biggest wrestling promotion in the world. We'll look at the history of their relationship with fifteen things you may not know about Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s journey together.
13 Became Friends On The Montreal Scene
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were based out of Canada and tried to get into the wrestling business at the same time. Specifically in Montreal, the independent wrestling scene lacked enough momentum to generate name value. Zayn and Owens bonded by the shared passion for the wrestling business and being too good to waste their talents in the smaller pond.
They worked for the same places and traveled together in hopes of putting together bodies of work that would impress United States independent promotions. It was apparent to anyone watching the shows that Zayn and Owens were on a different level from the other wrestlers at the smaller shows in Canada. The friendship started to form due to being in similar situations and hoping to reach their dreams of becoming stars on the bigger stage.
12 Linked Together Coming To United States
The careers of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn started to take off when various independent wrestling promotions reached out to them. Owens and Zayn made waves in PWG as singles stars, stealing the show with stacked rosters featuring guys like A.J. Styles, Daniel Bryan and Samoa Joe. The two new faces earned enough credibility to get booked on the East coast via CZW and Ring of Honor.
ROH booking them was the huge move that saw their careers get linked together. Owens and Zayn as El Generico each achieved success in both singles and tag team action in various promotions up to that point. The team coming to ROH is what saw their careers skyrocket into becoming commodities on the independent scene that commanded attention. They did it together with their names starting to get linked. If you mentioned Owens, you had to add Zayn and vice versa.
13. They Were Originally Disliked By The ROH Locker Room
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have passion for the wrestling business, but that has not always worked to their benefit. Both men received heat from the other wrestlers in the ROH locker room when they arrived. Zayn was viewed as a hated member of the roster due to being too excited about the job. Names like Austin Aries, Jimmy Rave and many others often ribbed him with mean-spirited jokes.
Things weren’t much better for Owens. CM Punk of all people yelled at him in the locker room following some words being exchanged. One of the rare ROH stars to show them respect was Nigel McGuinness. In the end, their work ethic, success and tenure would win the other wrestlers over. Owens and Zayn later would emerge as popular members of the locker room and fixtures on ROH shows for many years.
11 Won ROH Tag Team Championship In Emotional Moment
The journey of the tag team of Kevin Steen and El Generico culminated in a special moment. Ring of Honor fans badly wanted to see them win the ROH Tag Team Championship. They fell short a few times to just add to the build. Steen and Generico finally achieved the goal at ROH Driven 2008 on PPV in the main event, defeating Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), who were known as The Age of the Fall.
Fans reacted with one of the biggest ovations in ROH history. The emotion of the moment carried over for both wrestlers, along with the fans watching them reach the top of the mountain after trying for so long. There’s always a chance of WWE teaming Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in the future, but it'll be nearly impossible to match the emotion shown from their ROH Tag Title win.
10 They Loved PWG Most
Ring of Honor is remembered as the home of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn before coming to the WWE, but it was not their favorite promotion. Both men have gone on the record to say that PWG was their favorite place to work before making the move to the WWE and is the promotion they most miss working for. The West Coast company was the first major United States indie to take a chance on the Canadians, leading to their huge success everywhere else.
Another positive to PWG is the freedom that comes with working there. They book the best free agents in wrestling to do their thing with little to no restrictions. It's just fun without any of the politics that come from just about any other noteworthy promotion. Owens and Zayn still tweet support to PWG for providing great wrestling.
9 Kevin Steen Teased Retirement Before Turning On El Generico
The feud between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn is the main story known by the majority of fans watching them in the WWE. Triple H did a great job in NXT by using their past history as friends and rivals in smaller promotions. It all started in Ring of Honor through an incredible storyline. The tag team of Kevin Steen and El Generico endured a long losing streak that saw Steen start teasing retirement.
Kevin wrote blogs on the Ring of Honor website alluding to leaving the company. At Final Battle 2009, Steen delivered an assumed retirement speech that ended with him turning on Generico to start the next chapter of their careers. Steen was so believable in his performance and provided a rare moment of fans truly buying into a storyline.
8 Their Feud Carried ROH Following Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins Leaving
The storyline of Kevin Steen versus El Generico is one of the greatest stories in Ring of Honor history. It also happened to come at the best possible time. WWE signed Daniel Bryan and TNA signed Nigel McGuinness, leaving a huge void at the top of the ROH roster. Steen and Generico feuded for a full year remaining the one strong constant for ROH.
Seth Rollins also left ROH for the WWE during that time frame, causing ROH to struggle with star power. Steen and Generico carried the company on their backs with classic matches and segments, making for absolutely compelling entertainment. Their work typically resulted in the loudest crowd response on every single show. Both men became singles stars and helped keep ROH’s momentum going through a difficult transitional stage for the company.
7 Their Final Tag Match Came At PWG
Following the breakup, both Kevin Steen and El Generico attempted to remain apart. Steen moved into a face role, but still kept his distance from his former partner. That was until Generico’s final night on the independent circuit before moving to the WWE to begin his new life as Sami Zayn. Steen and Generico reunited one final time at PWG DDT4 2013.
They defeated former foes The Briscoe Brothers and new independent wrestling stars Kyle O’Reilly and Adam Cole to get to the finals. The final match saw them fall just short in the finals, losing to The Young Bucks. Steen and Generico embraced in a hug and heartfelt emotions to send off the independent wrestling legend to the next stage in a very special moment that PWG fans will never forget.
6 Sami Zayn Was One Of Two Wrestlers To Attend Kevin Owens' Wedding
It has become common knowledge that Kevin Owens is a family man outside of the ring. Known for putting his body in immense danger and delivering snarky comments on the television screen, Owens’ happiest moments come from being a loyal husband and father at home. Owens married his longtime love during his ROH years and only two wrestlers attended the wedding.
The wrestlers to witness Owens’ wedding were fellow ROH stars Sami Zayn and Kenny King. The main reason for King being there was the fact that he lived in Vegas and was in the area. Zayn showed up as a close friend wanting to witness the big moment. Owens and Zayn have been professional partners for a good percentage of their careers, so it only made sense Zayn was there to celebrate with Owens.
6. Jim Cornette Didn't Think They Could Be Stars
Wrestling fans have always loved the work of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn through the various promotions and stages of their careers. One person that didn’t find anything special about them was Jim Cornette. The legendary wrestling mind joined ROH after getting fired from TNA around the time of the Steen versus Generico feud.
Cornette hated just about everything about Kevin Steen and El Generico. The treatment of both men from Cornette saw him try to undermine their efforts on the ROH show. Cornette tried to keep Steen out of ROH following a loser leaves town match. Generico also found himself on less shows. The belief of Cornette was that they could never be stars. Time has proven him to be incorrect and painfully out of touch.
5 Triple H Believed In Their Visions
Triple H was the opposite of Jim Cornette in terms of being in touch with the current wrestling landscape. Sami Zayn would be spotlighted as one of the first big stars on NXT, leading to the promotion making waves online thanks to word of mouth regarding his outstanding matches. Things went to the next level when Triple H signed Kevin Owens to be the next big star for NXT.
The story of Zayn versus Owens found its way onto WWE television and created stronger interest than ever in the NXT product. Triple H believed in their talents and their vision, allowing it to mature on the WWE product. Both men became huge stars before even debuting on the main roster where their stock would improve even more. Owens and Zayn each credit Triple H’s faith in them for the success they’ve been able to achieve on the biggest stage.
4 They Wrestle For The Moments
The philosophy of what makes a wrestling match great is something that can be debated from various viewpoints. Kevin Owens revealed in a podcast interview on Talk is Jericho that he and Sami Zayn plan their matches and feuds around the big moments. Their logic is that fans will always remember the special moments that take place in a legendary match more than the moves in the match itself.
Zayn and Owens had one of the best WWE matches of 2016 at Battleground to end their feud for the time being. The incredible moment at the end of the match saw Zayn hold up a beaten Owens and deliver an emotional expression before delivering the knockout kick to get the win. As great as the entire match was, that one moment is what we’ll always remember and that’s the proof that Owens and Zayn know what they are talking about.
3 WWE Wanted To Profit Off Their Past Feuds
History has shown us that WWE doesn’t like referring to things that took place in other companies. WCW wrestlers were typically used poorly and guys that made their names outside of the WWE had to change their entire character when coming over. That made it a surprise when WWE chose to not only acknowledge, but go all in regarding the history of Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn.
Owens’ first night in NXT saw their friendship referenced and the war began when he attacked Zayn. WWE discussed their past history on the independent wrestling scene to add to the story being told on NXT television. The main roster call-ups of Zayn and Owens saw the feud continue in 2016. WWE once again referenced their past in a new progressive style of storytelling.
2 They Want A WrestleMania Match Against Each Other One Day
The rivalry between Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn coming to the WWE has seen them achieve just about every accomplishment together. Some people in wrestling were meant to make magic against together in the squared circle and these two show that every time they face off. One item on the bucket list is a potential singles match at WrestleMania.
Owens and Zayn were a part of a Ladder Match together, but five other wrestlers joined them. The taste of the battle between Owens and Zayn was arguably the highlight of the match. Considering what they have already done, a match taking place at a WrestleMania event would need a legendary effort to top everything we’ve seen. Owens and Zayn have proven they have the wrestling genius to rise to the occasion and WrestleMania would be the peak.
1 Major Pieces Of The New Era In The WWE
The new era is the latest slogan by the WWE to try to get a youth movement going. We have witnessed plenty of new stars come to the main roster in recent years. WWE has a loaded slate of incredible performers from all over the world. Triple H’s success in creating new stars in NXT is what truly started this approach.
Kevin Owens moving from NXT to the main roster and instantly becoming a huge star by defeating John Cena played a major role in the WWE trusting the stars coming up. The popularity of Sami Zayn on the main roster due to his NXT work also showed these talented performers were ready for the big stage. Owens and Zayn being two of the biggest success stories helped usher in the new era of the WWE feeling comfortable bringing up stars from NXT to change the game.