Sami Zayn handed Braun Strowman his first singles loss since the brand split Sunday night at Roadblock: End of the Line, pulling off the upset in a 10-minute time-limit match.
Raw general manager Mick Foley was prepared to throw in the towel and end the match early. A defiant Zayn argued with Foley before stealing the towel and throwing it into the crowd.
Shortly after the sequence, Strowman ran face-first into the ring post, which was the turning point in the match. WWE shared a replay of Strowman's mistake:
.@ILikeSamiZayn is STILL IN IT!! He gets @BraunStrowman to crash into the ringpost!! #10Minutes #WWERoadblock https://t.co/F9MEBzbFnx2016-12-19 01:39:55
Zayn stayed alive long enough to deliver the Helluva Kick as time expired. Although Zayn never secured a pinfall, he was deemed the winner after reaching the 10-minute threshold.
WrestlingNewsSource thought the final result served a few different purposes:
Sami is officially declared the winner. Interesting way to hand Strowman his first loss without actually beating him. #WWE #WWERoadblock2016-12-19 01:42:29
WWE Creative Humor saw it another way:
WWE Creative Humor @WWECreative_ish
That was like @iLikeSamiZayn winning the popular vote but Braun Strowman still being elected President #WWERoadblock2016-12-19 01:41:46
UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was among those closely following the action:
Daniel Cormier @dc_mma
Who's watching @WWE roadblock Braun strowman is demolishing Sammy zayn2016-12-19 01:36:40
Zayn's issues with Strowman date back to the weeks leading up to Survivor Series, as the Underdog From The Underground stood up to the monstrous Superstar because nobody else was willing to.
That resulted in Zayn taking multiple beatings at the hands of Strowman, and Foley even halted a match between them when it became obvious the former NXT champion stood no chance.
Zayn was infuriated by Foley's apparent lack of belief in him and made it clear he wouldn't take no for an answer with regard to a clash with Strowman at Roadblock:
Sami Zayn @iLikeSamiZayn
#RAW. I've been patient. No more BS. I want my match with Braun Strowman. @RealMickFoley make this happen. If not...2016-12-12 21:35:49
Despite that, Foley continued to turn down Zayn's requests and even agreed to trade the Canadian Superstar to SmackDown.
The Hardcore Legend said he had orchestrated a deal with SmackDown general manager Daniel Bryan for a talent of equal value: Eva Marie.
Upon hearing that, Zayn lost his cool and got in Foley's face, before the WWE Hall of Famer admitted it was all a ruse.
Foley insisted he would never trade Zayn and revealed that misleading Zayn was his way of bringing the fire out of him.
That led to Foley making the match between Zayn and Strowman with a 10-minute time limit, but The Monster Among Men said he didn't anticipate the bout going the distance:
Zayn has had an up-and-down tenure on the main roster thus far and has largely fallen short in big matches.
That was often the case in NXT as well until he defeated Neville to win the title. Zayn needs a similar-type boost to reach the next level on Raw, and he may have believed beating Strowman was the steppingstone he had been looking for.
While the creative team hasn't been shy about booking Zayn to lose, it has been careful in its handling of Strowman. The big man has been brought along as slowly as any talent in recent memory, as it wasn't long ago that he was winning squash matches over local enhancement talent on Raw.
Zayn represents Strowman's first feud and first true test as a singles competitor, and he was an ideal opponent in that regard Sunday since Zayn has a penchant for elevating anyone he steps into the ring with.
Despite the fact Strowman lost, working with Zayn likely gave him invaluable experience, and it shouldn't take much effort to build him back up.
Zayn needed a signature win, though, and now that he has it, he may finally reach the potential he has always owned. It's doubtful Zayn's business with Strowman is closed after Sunday, though.
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