After two years in NXT and ultimately winning the NXT Championship, Sami Zayn made his main roster debut on Raw in 2015. That debut also happened to be in Zayn's hometown of Montreal, and he was introduced by Bret Hart who also has ties to Montreal.
But what Zayn most remembers from that match was injuring his shoulder and him being unsure of just how hurt he was. He recalled that match, which was a US Championship Open Challenge match, when he joined The New Day Podcast.
"Well, so the thing is, I didn't know what happened at the time because it happened so fast. I think it popped out and popped in right away, so quickly that there was almost some denial that, 'Did something just happen or did it just pop in?' I didn't even know what that was, but it scared me a little bit, and so when my arm went down, it was back in. Everything seemed fine. And if you watch the footage back, I'm kind of moving it to see if it was in my head or not, and everything seems fine," stated Zayn.
"Also, another fun – nothing to do with the shoulder – but another fun fact about that is that it is my debut against John Cena, the biggest star maybe ever, in my hometown. I'm getting this amazing hero's welcome, and before the match, I had put some Vicks VapoRub under my nose, and it looks all angulated on my mustache. A big debut after all those years and it looks like I have a booger right on my nose.
"I get in the ring and I'm telling either the ref or Bret Hart, 'I think my shoulder just went out'. Bret's already somewhere else, and I'm trying to tell Cena. I think I said, 'my shoulder popped', but he's from across the ring. At this point, I feel fine, but I don't know what just happened. We wrestle for about a minute or so and he gives me a back suplex. When he gives me the back suplex, that's when it's out and it's not going back in. I'm trying to roll to the apron, and my arm is just dead so I can't even roll, and I think that when I finally do roll, it goes back in place.
"So then the doctor gets in the ring, and he goes, 'Are you okay? Do you think you can pop it back in?' He goes, 'Well is it out, or is it in?' I said, 'What? You tell me! I don't know! You have to tell me. Is it out or is it in? I have no idea!' But he's like, 'Can you move it?' I'm moving it, and I say, 'Okay, I'm just going to keep going. Just standby,' and then we went on to have, I don't know, 15 minutes? But it was good, great. So, it was just a turbulent night emotionally. Just such highs and lows and... the journey of life, man. What an all-encompassing night - the highs, the lows. Just kind of amazing when you think back on it now."
Zayn would lose his debut match in his hometown but received a standing ovation afterwards for his performance. His shoulder did end up being pretty messed up, as he tore his rotator cuff and would be on the shelf for seven months while recovering.
When he finally did return, Zayn encountered producer Jamie Noble backstage. Noble reacted in a playful way, which hinted to Zayn that he had rubbed some people the wrong way during his absence.
"I haven't seen him in five months, nor had I really communicated with almost anybody in the company in that time. I'm walking in the hallway and I see Jamie. He actually walked around me... He wanted nothing to do with my immediate range," recalled Zayn. "He walked around, and he said these words, I'm paraphrasing but he said something along the lines of, 'Oh, stay away from me, you got enough heat'. I haven't said a word. I haven't done anything! I come back and I'm immediately so nuclear that he needs to walk around me. 'What have I done?'"
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The New Day Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Mehdy Labriny contributed to this article.