Perhaps there's a reasonable explanation for it, but my nagging thought coming from Monday's RAW show wasn't about Lana's nosedive into a wedding cake or Darren Young grabbing a handful of tights to pin Titus O'Neil. When Neville's partner turned out to be Sin Cara, I started to question even further what's happening with Sami Zayn. I searched for injury news, to make sure there wasn't something I overlooked, and found nothing. In fact, Zayn worked Curtis Axel in a bout for Superstars, prior to the beginning of RAW.
So, what the hell is going on here?
Not every superstar can be on every PPV or every television show, and to think otherwise is naive. But, just a few weeks ago, Sami Zayn pinned Kevin Owens in one of the best main roster matches of the year at Battleground, winning the blowoff match with an upper midcard player. It's almost as if the Owens feud was the only thing WWE could think of to do with Zayn, because since that point, he's done nothing of relevance to his own future. He wrestled Seth Rollins on last week's RAW, but it wasn't a match that had any purpose, other than to be two solid segments for that broadcast.
What's perplexing is why, if there wasn't any further planning for Zayn, he would beat Owens in their "final" showdown. Following the loss, Kevin joined forces with Chris Jericho, setting the stage for a fairly high-level tag team grudge match with Enzo Amore and Big Cass at SummerSlam. KO was the loser of the Zayn feud, but there was something waiting for him on the other side. It's not unprecedented to see something like this, as in 2015 when Goldust pinned his brother, but it was Stardust who was used at WrestleMania. This one is much higher profile, however, and with the knowledge we have today, it doesn't make sense.
Considering who is on the SummerSlam card, it's concerning not to see Sami, who could really have excelled on this stage. It would have been his best chance to get over in front of a bigger audience. He's still a work in progress, not as a performer, but as someone the broad fan base sees as a star. The Brooklyn crowd would know him and pop huge for him, and it would resonate with the mainstream, casual fans who tuned in to see the most celebrated event of WWE's summer.
It's possible he could be added to the show next week, but even if so, it's not going to be anything remotely important. Whatever it is would have no build, and would basically be reminiscent of WCW booking an undercard match on the final Thunder before a PPV. It's not even assured to be on the main card, and of course it won't have any stakes. It's Prince Iaukea vs. Perry Saturn.
You could potentially try to make an argument for Cesaro in this same way, but there's a big difference, and it also applies to Bray Wyatt. Both men have been heavily involved in multi-week television angles, whereas Zayn has been aimlessly wandering around without a compass since defeating Owens. Bray may interfere in the Ambrose-Zigger match, and Cesaro could face Sheamus on the pre-show, but they have been a large part of their respective brands.
Sami Zayn has been the opposite. He's just there. Sometimes, like Monday, he isn't really there.
I continue to think he has to be banged up, because other than an injury, there's nothing that should keep him off this show. But, we would know something, because every minute detail of WWE gets leaked from internal sources who can't keep their mouths shut. We knew about a Simon Gotch - Sin Cara catering brawl. You can't tell me we wouldn't have heard SOMETHING about Sami Zayn dealing with some kind of injury or physical issue. And, why would he be in action on Superstars this week if he was legitimately hurt?
We would also know if there was some other problem, because we always do, as websites fall over themselves to take the smallest morsel of a rumor and turn it into a post. We're in a "credibility be damned" society these days.
How many stories have you read about Sami Zayn over the last three weeks? Has there been any news at all?
Since debuting for the second time on the main roster, the entire Zayn character and all creative efforts pointed in his direction were solely focused on Kevin Owens. There was never anything else, even though he worked several different people during that time frame. The only angle was Owens, sometimes over the Intercontinental Title and sometimes including others, but the key to his involvement was always KO.
I hoped we might see Neville pick him on Monday in the tag team match against the Dudley Boys, then turn on him, setting those two up for a few months as WWE waits for the Cruiserweight Classic to complete and the Cruiserweight Division to begin. It was a successful NXT feud in the past, similar to the Owens angle, but with a little less depth. It would have given two good hands something to do that would result in great matches, if anyone wearing a suit in WWE cares about those these days.
Finally, if there wasn't anything long term mapped out for Sami Zayn, explain why it made any sense at all to draft him to RAW, rather than SmackDown, where the depth was questionable. He could have been a more important performer, particularly in the ring, where it's sorely needed on that show. Bray Wyatt is currently the third wheel in a WWE World Championship match of which he's not a part, and that could have been a fun little program.
Vince could have put Sami and Bray together, allowing Zayn to play the victim and the underdog role that he made famous at Full Sail. It's just a suggestion, but based on what we've seen since Battleground, there was no reason to put him on RAW, with a loaded roster, when the Owens angle was ending five days later.
Something in this equation does not add up.
I don't purport to know what WWE is thinking, and often times I'm left scratching my head about the company's decision making. Again, not everyone can be featured, but Zayn wouldn't seem to be a candidate to leave off this card. I hope there's a piece of this puzzle we're all missing that would make Sami's current standing less confusing, although I would hate to hear he's hurt again.
Whatever the reason, his absence from anything of even mediocre stature at SummerSlam is troubling, and it's a major opportunity missed for him. It's also an opportunity missed for us, because we'd all like to see him perform next Sunday.