By April Lavalle
Let me get right to the point.
They should push him now. ASAP. Yesterday.
Sami Zayn was the beloved babyface hero of NXT, but since being moved up to the main roster in 2016, the “underdog from the underground” has been criminally underutilized. Right now it would seem that fans are still largely on Zayn’s side, but it is likely that if he continues to job to less talented wrestlers and continues to lose, the former NXT champion will fade into lower-mid card obscurity and squander his title-picture potential.
In recent weeks, Sami has especially been subjected to shitty booking: he was put on a random tag team with Tye Dillinger, forced into a feud with the Kanellises, and lost (LOST!) to Aiden English. No shade to any of these people, but Zayn is, and has been, on another level for a while. His matches are consistently good. His move set is consistently good. He remains the ultimate babyface in and out of the ring. He was even featured in four out of ten of BuzzFeed’s “Best WWE matches of 2016,” with his NXT match against Shinsuke Nakamura taking the number one spot. And whether he is eating pins from Braun Strowman or facing off with “frenemy” Kevin Owens, Zayn never seems to wave in ability or likability.
Speaking of, let’s talk about that feud with Strowman from a few months ago: Even though the two seemed hopelessly mismatched, the arc at least helped to develop Sami’s character. He was the David to Braun’s Goliath, and he didn’t need to win to look strong. In fact he hardly won, but the fans really got to see Sami’s ability and, more importantly, his heart.
But with Sami’s recent losing streak and crappy booking, one can’t help but feel like creative wants you to think Zayn is weak. Your eyes do not deceive you, Sami is fantastic in the ring, but it seems like the WWE is hellbent on wanting you to see him as fallible. They threatened to trade him for Eva Marie, for f—s sake. Now, this can either be for two reasons: Creative genuinely wants you to see Sami as a jobber, which would be a huge waste of his talent, or they are really pushing the “underdog” thing. I refuse to believe that the WWE would f— up a sure thing like Sami Zayn (not that they haven’t done it before…*cough BAYLEY cough*), but bad booking and shitty matches does not an underdog make. Perhaps the WWE is grooming Zayn to be their next Daniel Bryan— a long shot who was doubted by the company but beloved by fans. But as where the “YES!” movement and Bryan’s rise to glory was organic, Zayn’s situation seems much more forced and frustrating.
Right now, the future of Zayn’s career hangs in limbo, with some speculating that he will finally get his push after SummerSlam, and even some others arguing that he could return to NXT following the rumored upcoming shakeup (seeing is believing on that one). Here is my case for the former:
Right now, Sami is in a perfect position for a push. He is not tied down to any significant feud, and SummerSlam may bring the end to a few existing rivalries, allowing others to potentially move into the title picture. More than that though, Sami still has a legion of fans behind him. If the WWE sleeps on him much longer, they risk fans becoming disinterested. The time is right for him to move on to bigger and better things, and Sami can still be seen as a rising phoenix if he moves on from wrestling purgatory and onto bigger and better things. If the WWE choses to keep his storyline stagnant, Zayn may never been seen as more than just another ginger mid-carder, virtually indistinguishable from Heath Slater and Curt Hawkins. I mean, shit, at least Heath Slater has kids.