Sami Zayn knows it will be loud. A Montreal wrestling crowd for a WWE event never disappoints when it comes to jacking up the decibel meter.
But the Montreal-area wrestler doesn’t fully predict just how loud the fans will be at Bell Centre when his music hits and he walks to the ring for his highly-anticipated, main-event match with WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns in Saturday night’s Elimination Chamber.
“I’m trying to keep my expectations low,” Zayn said during a media appearance at a downtown Montreal hotel on Friday morning.
“Historically speaking, the Bell Centre has been extremely, extremely kind to me. There is just something about Montreal, the way they treat one of their own, it’s second to none. But I’m also trying to not bank on it, so as to not set myself up for disappointment.
“But all signs are pointing to it’s going to be pretty wild.”
Zayn, a Laval, Que., wrestling star, has been on fire in WWE for the past eight months or so after he became part of the Bloodline storyline in WWE that features the likes of Reigns, the tag-team champion Usos and manager extrordinaire Paul Heyman.
The storyline has gripped the interest of wrestling fans around the world, leading to an increase in TV ratings and social media buzz. It’s also put a rocket on Zayn’s stardom that hits its highest point Saturday night at the premium event known as Elimination Chamber, in front of his home fans and a sold-out Bell Centre.
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“It’s pretty remarkable to end up in this position being a guy who is a product of local Montreal wrestling some 20 years ago,” he said.
“I just ended up in the right place, at the right time,” said Zayn.
“And it just so happened to be, this fight, that people are really anticipating, everywhere in the world …. it just so happens it has landed in Montreal. That just makes it triple special.”
Fans hoping Zayn beats Reigns to become WWE’s world champion might have to hold their enthusiasm. Zayn is the clear underdog against Reigns, a world champion for more than 900 days now.
But Zayn said he’s ready for this moment at Bell Centre and allows himself to wonder — what if he does pin Reigns to become the face of WWE?
“We know what wrestling is. It’s sports, it’s entertainment, it’s a hybrid of the two,” Zayn said. “For a lot of people, it’s the ultimate moment, to reach that championship. I’m not a person who lives and dies by the championship, and not someone who is going to view this incredible 20-year career as a failure if I don’t win the championship.
“However, if I were to win that championship, especially in Montreal, I think that’s the kind of cherry on top that you take with you forever. It doesn’t get better than that.”
As for being in the spot on the card he is and becoming the latest Quebec-wrestling product to main event the WWE stage (Montreal’s Kevin Owens has also held this spot), Zayn said being from La Belle Province and a Canadian means a great deal to him and others.
“I think we produce some of the all-time best. Montreal, specifically,” he said, referring to top-level wrestling stars. “We have a pretty good track record. Something in the water? I don’t know.”
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