MONTREAL – Friday night in Montreal, Sami Zayn has his “WrestleMania moment,” defeating Kevin Owens in a violent and emotional Street Fight that will be remembered for a long time to come.
The fans in attendance will remember this moment for a long time, with Zayn and Owens, main eventing the Bell Centre one-on-one for the very first time. The story here is not even about the match. Don’t get me wrong. The match was great. The aftermath was just better – goosebumps moments for anyone who witnessed it.
“Everybody here knows exactly how long the story between you and me goes. It started 14 years ago in Montreal,” said Zayn to Owens right after the match. “In every church basement. In every community hall. It was you and me, and you and me, ’til we took it to the U.S, ’til we took to England, ’til we took all around the world, ’til now, where we’re in the main event, in Montreal, in the Bell Center, in front of our people.”
This is when the 9,000 people in attendance started chanting “Ole Ole Ole,” popularized by both the Montreal Canadiens fans and for Zayn’s alter ego, El Generico.
“Now listen. I don’t like Kevin Owens, that’s not a secret, right? But it sounds to me that a lot of you people do like Kevin Owens. I may not like you. I don’t. I haven’t in a very long time. But after what we just went through, I have to say that I do respect you. And whether you like him or not, you have to respect the fact that for the last nine months, the guy on top of WWE, the Universal champion, was a Quebecois! He was a guy who represented chez nous!”
The reaction Zayn got for that was unbelievable. Not only because he put over Owens but for using a few French words as punch lines such as chez nous, which means our home. The energy and the feeling inside the building at that moment is very hard to put into words.
“So I might not like you, but me and these people, in this ring, we give you respect,” Zayn concluded.
That’s when everybody in the arena turned their eyes towards Owens, standing alone on the stage, applauded the former champion and chanted his name.
Out of character, Owens got emotional.
It was a tough 10 days for Owens. Since last Friday, he’s been doing interview after interview – radio, television, web, the whole nine yards. More than ever before, he truly became the wrestler that the local media here wants to talk to, following in the footsteps of the late-greats Yvon Robert and Johnny Rougeau, and replacing Jacques Rougeau Jr . – his initial trainer – in that position. He did more to promote that show than anybody else in recent years. And he did all that while trying to be with his wife and kids as much as possible.
So after a hard battle, after he had left his sweat, his guts and his heart in the ring, giving everything he had, he didn’t have the energy to fight the wave of love from the fans: he simply burst into tears. Real tears. Not Hollywood ones. True, legit and genuine tears, like the man and the wrestler he is. Professional wrestling can give its fans some great emotional moments sometimes and this one was definitely one of them.
In my interview with him earlier this week, Owens told me that “wrestling at the Bell Centre is as special as wrestling at the Madison Square Garden,” and it was a honest statement. The same goes for Zayn. Not that long ago, wrestling in that building for the biggest wrestling organization in the world, let alone to do the main event, was something they could only imagine in their wildest dreams.
Regaining his composure, Owens shot back “Sami, ostie que j’t’haïs!” which means, “Sami, goddamn I hate you,” a great line that fits into the storyline and at the same time, it’s proper to a degree because Zayn’s promo lead to Owens’ crying. The fans loved the fact that aside from the tears, he didn’t break from his heel character.
Then, in French, Sami said a line everyone will remember: “So Montreal, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart… for me, THIS was WrestleMania,” a comment he echoed on Twitter, saying that last night show was his WrestleMania.
And it was. For Owens and Zayn, last night was as big of a deal as WrestleMania.
Montreal has seen many of its wrestlers in big main events over the years, but the last time two Quebecers main evented a WWE show in Montreal was at the old Forum, when Jacques Rougeau Jr. faced his former teammate Pierre-Carl Ouellet in his first retirement match. It was in October 1994. Baseball was on strike and the NHL owners had put their players in a lock-out. So all the media attention was turned towards the match and it ended up being the biggest house show of the year for the WWE.
People have to understand that there’s always been a special bond between the province of Quebec and its stars. A strong tie hard to understand for someone who’s not from within. And in the case of Owens and Zayn, a feeling shared by both the Anglophone and the Francophone fans.
As for the match itself, it was everything you would expect from a Street fight.
During the entrances, Owens got a slightly better pop than Zayn, the effect of having been the Universal champion. Since it was no-DQ, they used everything they could. Zayn used a hockey stick while Owens used a kendo stick. At one point, the crowd chanted “We want tables” and Owens took the mic and said in French that if the fans would have asked in French he would have done it, but since they didn’t, they can suck it! Of course, the crowd chanted “we want tables” in French. Owens took the mic back and said “Sorry, I don’t speak French!” He got a great heel reaction for that.
Zayn ended up bringing a table, which got a huge pop, but quickly, Owens put him through for a two-count.
They brought two more tables and Owens went through one for another falsie. Zayn power bombed him in a third table, then hit three Helluva Kick for the win. Shockingly, the two tables Owens went in didn’t break, each time Owens hit the edge of the table.
After everything they went through together, this was another chapter of a great story that these two men are sharing for a very longtime now.
Here’s the full results of the show:
– The Club beat Enzo & Cass, Sheamus & Cesaro and The New Day when Anderson pinned Big E with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes.
– Austin Aries defeated Neville with the Discus Fivearm in a non-title match.
– R-Truth & Goldust & Curtis Axel beat Shining Stars & Titus O’Neil when Truth pinned O’Neal with a roll-up.
– After the match, O’Neil started to insult the crowd and called out anyone from the back. Sin Cara answered the challenge. Sin Cara defeated Titus O’Neil in two minutes with the Dragon Bomb.
– Roman Reigns beat Samoa Joe by DQ when Joe hit him with a chair. Very good match. Let’s go Roman/Roman sucks chants. The women and kids were cheering for Roman and the men were cheering for Joe. After the match Roman hit the spear on Joe.
– Bayley & Sasha Banks & Dana Brooke b Charlotte Flair & Alicia Fox & Nia Jax when Bayley hit the Bayley-to-Belly on Charlotte. It was Brooke’s first match as a babyface.
– Finn Bálor defeated Jinder Mahal with the Coup de Grace. Well above what fans expected, both in terms of quality and length.
– Montreal Street Fight – Sami Zayn beat Kevin Owens, in the best match of the card.
Pat Laprade, who has been following Zayn and Owens’ careers for a longtime feels truly blessed to have been able to witness this moment live. He will be in Orlando next week and hopes to witness other magical moments like this one. He can be reached at [email protected], or his Facebook page and Twitter.