With a Win-Loss record of 120-73 in WWE, I can’t claim that WWE is burying Sami Zayn. Not even close. What I can claim is that they aren’t utilizing him to the best of his abilities, or to the best use of their brands.
I thought the logical choice for Sami Zayn’s entrance and introduction to the non-ROH & non-NXT viewers of the WWE Universe would be as relatable underdog, who also happened to be former best friends and now enemies with Kevin Owens. On the WWE roster in 2016, however, his identity seems to be “Kevin Owens’ pesky babyface enemy”. I loved his debut at the Royal Rumble, where he got revenge on Kevin Owens by eliminating him. That was GREAT.
Then they were in a match for the IC Title at Wrestlemania! GREATER! Logical progression, but wait, there are 5 other guys not named Kevin or Sami in the match. Not so great. Zack Ryder winning the IC Title was one of the 2 or 3 biggest highlights and moments of WrestleMania 32, but it should’ve been for the US Title. Kevin and Sami deserved a special end to their epic feud. Well, it should’ve been the end.
Does anyone want to guess how many times, including the Royal Rumble, Sami Zayn faced Kevin Owens this year? 10? That would be nice, to try and keep it somewhat special, but a little unrealistic if you factor in live events. Maybe 20? That seems a bit more fair. We’re actually not even close? 25? 30? 35? 45? 50? 55? Keep going. It was 58 times this year. THIS YEAR. (Shout out to ProFightDB.com) Doesn’t count NXT or ROH. This is the argument to the “Fight Forever” t-shirt of Owens & Zayn that WWEShop.com is selling right now. Thank goodness we had a logical way to separate these two talents and keep their rivalry somewhat fresh when the brand split came about, right? Wrong. WWE had a “final” Zayn Vs Owens match at Battleground in July, which Sami won (yay!), only to end up getting drafted to the same brand as Owens. Wow. I hope WWE knows this draft wasn’t supposed to be a shoot, right? You can put the guys where you want them to go. After this inexcusable storyline error, WWE then proceeded to have Kevin Owens defeat Sami on the September 5th RAW, then again on the December 5th RAW. I’m assuming this was meant to erase Sami’s victories against KO, and any remaining mainstream fan interest in this feud that they had beaten into the ground, dug up, and then bludgeoned with a shovel.
58 times. 5 PPVs from January to July. Will whoever was making the calls on this story please try harder?
Here’s the other problem, while Sami Zayn’s TV persona has been “guy obsessed with Kevin Owens who occasionally does one-off tag team matches with Neville”, Kevin Owens has been a guy driven to prove his draft day value wrong, a guy getting hand-picked by Triple H to be the new Universal Champion, a guy involved in a new main event tag team / partnership / best friendship / budding rivalry with Chris Jericho. Sami looks like the petty obsessed one who can’t move on in the rivalry with KO.
In recent weeks, WWE has given Sami more of a story and an identity, which I like, but I see as a short-term fix. He is being positioned as a fiery underdog who isn’t afraid to stand up to the bully, knowing that he will probably get his butt kicked. That’s perfect. He’s relatable. You can picture yourself being friends with Sami.
You can imagine yourself in his position, even though he’s an elite professional wrestler and sports entertainer. I see him as the heir to the Daniel Bryan throne in that regard of the relatable superstar.
We want to think we would stick up to Braun Strowman even if we had “No Chance In Hell” of beating him.
After that, where is there to go from that point, though?
On RAW, Sami is behind Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, and even Big Cass on the babyface depth chart. He isn’t even competing for the secondary title on RAW. Over on SmackDown, Sami Zayn could jump right into being a legit IC Title contender or champion, and then quickly move on to being the fresh babyface opponent that AJ Styles desperately needs. I’m not the only one who wants Sami Zayn traded to SmackDown. When Mick Foley teased Sami getting traded to SmackDown, the RAW crowd popped! Not because they don’t want to see Sami, but because they want to see him do well! They know it’s where he belongs. The WWE knows we want this too, which is why they dangled it in front of us this week. It’s not too late to pull the trigger. Sami can have an excellent match with Braun Strowman at Roadblock, and then say he wants to go somewhere that he feels more appreciated and has more opportunity, with a GM who doesn’t need to play mind games with him to motivate him. A GM who knows him a little bit better.
It’s not too late to pull the trigger.
Let’s just hope the WWE doesn’t get gunshy.