Match Point: Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn, WWE Elimination Chamber (2/18/23)

Roman Reigns vs Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber

The Bloodline has been at the epicenter of what many professional wrestling fans and critics have called one of the greatest storylines in recent memory. From the return of Roman Reigns to his meteoric rise as Undisputed WWE Universal Champion to the formation of the aforementioned stable, it’s easy to see why this ongoing story has captured the attention of viewers. One of said story’s most integral parts, however, was “The Honorary Uce” himself, Sami Zayn. Through hard work and loyalty, Zayn climbed the ladder from the group’s smarmy underling to a true sworn brother. However, he was also responsible for the group’s fracturing and “The Tribal Chief’s” most recent path of rage. At this weekend’s Elimination Chamber event, Sami Zayn stands alone as he challenges Roman Reigns for his coveted Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Let’s take a look at how this match came to be.

Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber

The Chairshot Heard Throughout the Wrestling World

As mentioned earlier, Sami Zayn earned the trust of The Bloodline through his undying loyalty. This proved to be especially true at this past November’s Survivor Series WarGames, which saw The Bloodline challenge The Brawling Brutes, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens in one of the two WarGames Matches. Zayn’s involvement was instrumental, as he struck former longtime friend Owens between the legs and followed up with a Helluva Kick. This allowed Jey Uso, who was not shy about his distrust of Zayn, to connect with the Flying Uso for the pinfall victory. With this, after months of tension between the two, Zayn earned Jey’s trust and, by proxy, the full confidence of The Bloodline.

However, Owens would be vital in Zayn’s eventual defection from the group, routinely questioning if the group was as loyal to his former friend as he was to them. In the main event of this past January’s Royal Rumble, Roman Reigns defended the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Owens. Despite “The Prize Fighter’s” best attempts, he would fall to the champion. Post-match, The Bloodline continued their attack on Owens, going so far as to handcuff him to the ropes before The Usos struck with one superkick after another. Zayn watched, conflicted as to what he should do next. Reigns brandished a steel chair, ready to deliver even further damage.

Finally, Zayn stepped in, pleading with his “Tribal Chief” not to continue further. Reigns responded by handing the chair to Zayn, demanding that he attack Owens instead. Zayn hesitated, which resulted in Reigns talking down “The Honorary Uce,” pie-facing him all the while. Finally, Zayn could take no more; in a moment that elicited one of the biggest ovations in modern wrestling, he struck Reigns in the back with the steel chair. The euphoria from this show of defiance was short-lived as The Bloodline, sans an emotionally torn Jey Uso, turned their attack on Zayn instead and left him laying in the center of the ring. No longer would he be welcomed at the table that the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion headed.

“You Broke Up My Bloodline!”

On the February 3 edition of Friday Night SmackDown, a mere 6 days following the Royal Rumble event, Roman Reigns addressed the public. Reigns started by saying that he would prefer talking about Cody Rhodes, who won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match and earned a world title match at WrestleMania 39. Nonetheless, Reigns set his sights on Zayn. He thought back to WarGames where, following The Bloodline’s victory, Reigns told the world, “I saw everything I needed to see.” What he saw, from Zayn, was greed. In his eyes, Reigns provided Zayn an opportunity, which the latter used for his own purposes and never gave back.

Reigns’s speech was cut short when Zayn attacked him from behind, raining down with a flurry of punches. During this brawl, Reigns fought back before instructing “The Wiseman,” Paul Heyman, to hand him a steel chair. Before “The Tribal Chief” could administer further punishment, though, he was the recipient of a thunderous Spear from Zayn. As Reigns fled up the ramp, Zayn took the mic, claiming that he wanted nothing from “The Head of the Table.” However, the Quebec-born WWE Superstar wanted something at that moment: a match for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

Shortly thereafter, Zayn became a victim of a sneak attack, this time from Jimmy Uso and Solo Sikoa; the absence of Jey was very telling. Before they could deal further damage with the chair, Reigns stepped in, telling his group to step aside. Reigns approached a prone Zayn in the corner as ‘We Want Jey’ chants emanated throughout the arena. “They want Jey, but I don’t have Jey,” Reigns told Zayn. “Because you broke up my Bloodline! My right-hand man isn’t here because of you, Sami.” Reigns followed up by claiming that, in return for giving him everything, Zayn broke up his family. Furthermore, Reigns would give Zayn what he want, but he wanted something in return.

“I want you in Montreal,” Reigns said. “I want you at the Elimination Chamber. Because you broke up my family, I’m going to break you in front of your entire family – your parents, your wife, your child, all your family, friends, all your relatives.” Simply put, Roman Reigns will defend his title against Sami Zayn at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. However, “The Head of the Table” promised that this would encounter would end in the former “Honorary Uce’s” destruction.

Sami Zayn’s Resolve

Despite being left laying during the February 3 episode of SmackDown, Sami Zayn wouldn’t back down. On the following SmackDown, Zayn interrupted an in-ring segment featuring Paul Heyman, who claimed that “The Island of Relevancy” was under attack, referring to the former “Honorary Uce” as a “psychotic rebel.” Zayn took the mic from Heyman, wondering what would happen to The Bloodline next. After all, since he and Jey Uso left, one had to wonder whether Jimmy Uso or Solo Sikoa would follow suit. At the end of the segment, Zayn pulled Heyman into an aggressive embrace, saying that Roman Reigns didn’t have to worry about facing Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania, because he would be the one to do it.

Later in the night, The Usos successfully defended the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship against Ricochet and Braun Strowman. It was backstage where Jey was approached by Zayn, who said that they were “eight days away from something huge,” referring to the possibility of Reigns being dethroned as Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. Despite Jey showing hesitance at this chance meeting, Zayn continued, stating that said dethronement was something Jey wanted to see for a long time and that he didn’t have to go down with the “sinking ship” known as The Bloodline. The two exchanged a fist bump, though fans were still left wondering where Jey’s mindset was in regard to his allegiance to his family.

Fast forward to the February 13 edition of Monday Night Raw, which saw Zayn make an impromptu appearance. He called out Cody Rhodes, the two fan favorites sharing a heart-to-heart in front of the WWE Universe. Zayn admitted that he didn’t know if he would be able to walk out of Elimination Chamber as Undisputed WWE Universal Champion, noting that the titleholder’s “God Mode” title was legitimate. Rhodes, despite the possibility of meeting Zayn at WrestleMania for world title gold, motivated the Quebec-born WWE Superstar. “I intend to finish my story,” said Rhodes. “You need to finish yours.”

Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn – In Closing

Heading into the main event between Roman Reigns and Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber, there are several questions left answered. One such question is, what role, if any, will Jey Uso play? Since walking out on his family at the Royal Rumble, he hasn’t been seen on WWE programming. It would be easy enough to claim that Jey will fall in line and side with his family, but since WarGames, the bond between him and Sami strengthened, even to the point where Jey defended him during an in-ring trial. Could involvement from Jey play into the result of Reigns vs. Zayn, including a title change weeks before WrestleMania 39?

Speaking of WrestleMania, how will the result of this match play into Cody Rhodes’s world title match? If Reigns successfully defends against Zayn at Elimination Chamber, “The Tribal Chief” faces Rhodes at WrestleMania. However, a title change this Saturday changes the entire complexion of said WrestleMania showdown. Imagine Sami Zayn, a defiant hero with a groundswell of support, defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Cody Rhodes, whose trials, tribulations, and focus on family have been well documented. It’s difficult to predict how this Saturday will unfold, which makes it all the more exciting to witness.

Photo Credit: World Wrestling Entertainment

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