WrestleMania 40: Sami Zayn upsets Gunther to win intercontinental championship, end historic reign

Sami Zayn was the Rocky Balboa to Gunther’s Ivan Drago Saturday night at WrestleMania 40.

After taking a beating in the middle of the ring, Zayn came almost out of nowhere and stunned “The Ring General” multiple times. He didn’t give up despite taking chop after chop to the chest.

He left Philadelphia as the new Intercontinental Champion.

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Sami Zayn wins the Iintercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania XL Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia April 6, 2024. (Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports)

Gunther entered the match with a reign of nearly 670 days, the longest in history. For most of the early part of the match, Gunther was in control with chop after chop after chop to Zayn’s chest.

Zayn showed he could withstand the slaps and the chops. He had a moment to gain the upper hand, kicking Gunther’s arm to avoid another chop and hit a half-and-half suplex. Gunther stayed on the attack, though, hitting a brutal clothesline.

Zayn showed his resiliency with a slap to the face and a tornado DDT off of the ropes. A helluva kick and blue thunder bomb were both countered. Gunther put Zayn into a sleeper hold. Gunther prevented Zayn from reaching the ropes and his a German suplex.

Gunther walks to the ring

The intercontinental championship match between Gunthger and Sami Zayn during Wrestlemania XL Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia April 6, 2024. (Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports)

Zayn, for a split second, thought he was going to take control but missed on an exploder. Gunther got the advantage back and hit a powerbomb. But Zayn kicked out of the pin. Gunther had Zayn in the corner and painted him with his own boot.

A burst of energy hit Zayn. He threw “The Ring General” into the corner and hit the helluva kick. Gunther showed his own ring prowess and caught Zayn again with two powerbombs.

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Gunther was left in disbelief after Zayn kicked out of the pin. He continued to trash talk Zayn’s wife, who was seated at ringside, and he continued the attack. It was clear the reigning champion was frustrated and thought the match should be over.

After another powerbomb and multiple splashes, Zayn wouldn’t give up.

Zayn got up and hit another helluva kick on Gunther. He hit a wild brainbuster on Gunther. One more helluva kick put Gunther on his back.

Zayn covered Gunther for the pin, and the crowd went wild.

Sami Zayn brainbuster

Gunther is hit with a brainbuster from Sami Zayn during Wrestlemania XL Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia April 6, 2024. (Joe Camporeale/USA Today Sports)

The 666-day reign of Gunther came to an end.

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It’s the second year in a row Zayn walks away from WrestleMania with gold. He and Kevin Owens won the tag-team championship over The Usos last year.

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