Sami Zayn wants to be WWE Champion. Now granted, that’s probably not something a member of The Bloodline should say, what with Roman Reigns currently holding the belt, but in a conversation with Ariel Helwani of BT Sport, Zayn laid out why he’d love to win the Royal Rumble and how he believes nine months of storytelling could get fans behind him.
“I don’t think the fans are kind of where they were five or six years ago, where they would revolt. Like, ‘No, Daniel Bryan is the guy! you’re trying to give us Batista?! No, we’ll force you!’ I don’t feel that level of borderline contempt from the audience toward the creative direction,” said Zayn via Fightful. “I think because the story has been so interesting, there’s a little bit of trust in that it’ll go where it goes, and it’ll still be fine. I’m sure there are a lot of people who are pulling for me. That’s great. It’s nice to be that guy, but I don’t think it’s at a place where Daniel Bryan was in 2014 where, if it’s anybody but him, it’s going to be a disaster.”
When asked if he feels there could be backlash over the eventual Royal Rumble winner, Zayn explained that, while any storyline can go wrong, Paul “Triple H” Levesque has built up enough goodwill among fans that many appear open to the path he lays out.
“I don’t think that it’s necessarily the same,” Zayn said. “Is there a possibility of whether it’s Cody [Rhodes], whether it’s anybody, if it’s done, right, you can do almost anything. It has to be done well. It has to be done just right. If it’s not done right, could there be some kind of backlash to, ‘Man, the story made the most sense. He was the guy that fans liked, everything was right there, but they went this way?’ If they don’t do it right, there is the possibility of contempt toward whoever that person [that wins the Royal Rumble] is. Whether it’s Cody, whether it’s anyone, it could be anybody. If it’s not done right, it could hurt that person.”
“We work with a lot of people who know how to do things right. So if I’m not the guy, and I genuinely, as of this exact conversation, one day before the Royal Rumble, I have no idea what the plan is. I don’t know; it just doesn’t feel that way. I don’t know. I try to listen to the fans. I try not to put too much stock in the online kind of thing. But I’m sure there’s a good percentage like, again, if you follow nothing else but the storyline, the storyline, it’s a layup the I would be in that conversation. What actually ends up happening is, again, it’s not my control.”
Sami Zayn believes he could be the face of the WWE.
Asked whether or not he could be the face of WWE, Sami Zayn said that he believes he can definitely hold the World Championship for an extended period and knows that with the proper storyline, he can beat Roman Reigns believably. Still, he also doesn’t see himself as the franchise player of WWE from an optics perspective.
“I could win the World Title,” Zayn said. “I could carry it for a while. I could do talk shows. I could do all that stuff. I don’t know if I’m the guy that you could necessarily hitch your wagon to for the next 5-10 years and be the face of the company. If nothing else, because I’m somewhat realistic about my physical — I’m not as big as Roman [Reigns] or [John] Cena or Brock [Lesnar], and that’s typically the guy who’s at the head of that scene because they want a certain projection. I think for the long haul, could I win the World Title? I think especially because of the way the story is done. As I said a moment ago, if you do anything right, fans will buy it, and they’ll get into it. So I think at this point, the way things are built, and I’m not saying this is what’s going to happen if it was me and Roman at WrestleMania and I beat Roman, and we did it right, the way we’ve been doing it right the last nine months, No one’s going to go ‘Bogus. I’m out. I can’t take that,’ because we’ve done it right.”
Say what you will about the merits of Zayn’s overall statement, but it’s undeniable that WWE has been building an eventual match between the two parties the right way over the past nine months, with few other matches having as much groundwork in place. Even if besting Reigns wouldn’t make Zayn the new face of WWE, in a “Stone Cold” Steve Austin sort of a way, the “Underdog from the Underground” believes he could be an excellent champion, especially since the fans are behind him.
“I could be a guy who could carry that title six months, go on Jimmy Fallon, give a couple of jokes, have him do his fake laugh that he does, all that good stuff,” Zayn said. “Sure I could do that. I could probably do it in my sleep, to be honest, but I understand the company’s projection of what they see as the like face of the company, not being the champion. The champion and the face are almost two different things. I feel like I could be the champion, no problem. As far as being the guy that they like, ‘Number one, He’s our guy. He’s the poster boy. He’s the ultimate representation of what our company is,’ I know physically, I don’t fit that mold. So I don’t know if that’s me, like, being self-deprecating or what it is, but I’m a realist when it comes to that.”
Could Zayn become 2023’s Daniel Bryan and win the WWE Championship due to sheer fan engagement? Only time will tell, but considering everything that’s been involved in the buildup to the Royal Rumble, it certainly feels like a possibility.