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Paul Heyman on how Sami Zayn became WWE’s ‘most endearing character in decades, if not ever’

Many of the people involved in WWE’s Bloodline story have spoken on Sami Zayn’s role in it — who wanted him there, who didn’t, how it evolved, etc. And if you watched any of it with your own eyes, you saw how Zayn took what was allegedly supposed to be a gag that only lasted a few weeks and turned it into a months-long saga many consider to be the best thing the company’s done this century.

Still, it’s nice to hear again. Especially in the words of a skilled orator like Paul Heyman.

As the guest on Jimmy Traina’s latest SI Media podcast, Heyman had high praise for Zayn. He also had some insights into why Sami took the “crumbs” the angle gave him and turned it into “the most endearing character that we’ve presented in decades, if not ever.”

“I didn’t envision Sami Zayn becoming a massive part of this when Sami Zayn was becoming a massive part of this. It’s to his enormous credit — Sami Zayn seized the moment. We’d give him crumbs of a segment, and he would just turn it into a moment that he had to connect with the audience with what I think has ended up becoming the most endearing character that we’ve presented in decades, if not ever.

“As great of a talker as Sami Zayn is — and he is a magnificent talker — I think Sami resonates with the audience just because Roman Reigns will turn to him and lean in on him about something, and Sami gets that hush puppy face, and that sad look on his face, and the camera zooms in on the sad look on Sami’s face, and everybody feels for him. He just endears himself to the audience.

“They absolutely fall in love with him and his plight and his pursuit of acceptance, which I think is a big part of this is this. Everyone can relate to the pursuit of acceptance, and that was the tale of Sami Zayn. He just did it so well, and did it so brilliantly, and with such authenticity, and with genuine angst on his face and pain when spoken down to, that people just felt for him. And as you know, it’s not just constrained to WWE. In any form of television, movies, Broadway plays — if you get the audience to feel for you? Touchdown, victory. It’s everything that a writer, director, producer, and performer seeks.”

Roman’s Wise Man went on to discuss his hopes for Zayn moving forward, which he says is their hope for each of the Tribal Chief’s vanquished foes:

“We think we have a really good formula here, and we think we have a really good path. And I don’t think you’ve seen the last of Sami Zayn. In fact, I guarantee you haven’t seen the last of Sami Zayn, nor Kevin Owens, nor any of the other players in this act that we’ve put together. There was a very compelling reason to put Roman Reigns & Sami Zayn on Elimination Chamber. The timing was perfect, and — oh my God — we just happened to be putting that show in Montreal, where the reception to Sami would be something that other audiences will aspire to top, just because they want to be the best audience ever...

“We saw this Montreal opportunity, we also saw the timing could not be better. We’re heading into the Royal Rumble with Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns, and all the different opportunities that interweave themselves with Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. And the timeline for the story just fit.

“I understand that people have wanted Sami, more and more and more for Sami. That’s the object. We try to do that with every challenger. We did that with Drew McIntyre going to Cardiff in the UK, we did that with Brock Lesnar going into SummerSlam, when he drove a tractor out to the ring and demolished the ring. We did that with the group that we took on in WarGames at Survivor Series, Kevin Owens going into the Rumble. We try to do that with everyone that comes into the co-starring role with Roman Reigns, in terms of who his opponent’s gonna be for the match that we’re trying to sell.

“Hopefully, on the flip side of being defeated by the Tribal Chief, the undisputed champion Roman Reigns, you are worth far more, have a far more passionate fanbase, sell far more merchandise, sell more tickets than you did before, you’re more famous, more accepted, more valued by the audience than you were before we got our hands on you. That’s the whole object of what we do.

“I hope six months from now people are still clamoring more, more, more for Sami. That’s what we do. We try to make stars out of everyone that’s within our orbit.”

Not sure anyone will argue with the Sami praise, but there will be probably be some discussion of how successful the Bloodline’s been at making new stars.

Feel free to take part in that below, and check out Traina’s entire conversation with Heyman here. He tries to get some insight into Vince McMahon’s plans, but doesn’t get very far. There’s a lot of interesting talk about WWE’s creative process though — at least as it pertains to The Bloodline.

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