Even at the height of his storyline with Roman Reigns and The Bloodline, Sami Zayn knew his bosses didn’t see him as a “Face of the WWE”-type.
But even then he said he thought he could pull off a World title run. His friend & tag partner Kevin Owens shared that not being tapped for one even when he was the hottest guy in the company and challenging Reigns in front of their hometown of Montreal at Elimination Chamber in February took Zayn a little while to get over.
Now, as Ryan Satin’s guest on the latest edition of FOX Sports’ Out of Character, Zayn opened up about that loss being “hard to take”:
“It was a little hard, if you want the truth. It was a little hard because it’s — and I don’t think I’m being controversial when saying this — but I’m not the chosen guy. Obviously [laughs].
“I’ve been handed a lot of opportunities, and I’ve delivered on a lot of those opportunities throughout my time in the company. I’m grateful for all of it. But clearly, I don’t think anyone would say like, ‘Oh, clearly he was being positioned to be the top guy or to be the most popular guy on the show.’ Obviously, that’s not the case — and that’s fine.”
Chosen guy or not, Zayn knows he was on one of those “organic runs that the audience sort of wills into existence” that he described as “almost miraculous”. He compared his 2022-2023 stretch to ones Daniel Bryan, Becky Lynch, and Kofi Kingston have had, and that LA Knight is possibly in the midst of now. He also knows the connection he made with the audience during the The Bloodline story will serve him well throughout his career.
But even if that career eventually includes winning a top title, he knows it won’t be the same:
“If and when I do get to that mountain top again, or I get in the title picture and I’m the big challenger, or trying to fulfill my destiny, or whatever it is — it might still get there, but it’ll just have a different feel. It’ll still be part of the overarching story of the character. But it just felt like one of those things like, man, I forced their hand as much as humanly possible, but still just a buck short, and it was it was a hard pill to swallow, for sure it was, even though you kind of know what the plan is or where things are headed or this and that.
“There’s kind of this hope that you hold on to like, ‘Yeah, but if the crowd is loud enough, and the story is good enough, like, it’s kind of right there’, and it kind of felt like we got right there, about as close as any human being on Earth can get without actually getting there...
“But it’s fine because getting there on its own is an amazing feat... what I mean by getting there is not beating Roman, but getting to that match everyone wants you to beat Roman and getting an audience in that frenzy, and experiencing an audience like that, again, being a part of a story like that, very few people on Earth can say that ever done that.
“Like I said, it enabled me to penetrate the hearts of so many fans to where now I’m just, I’m in their good graces, regardless of the storyline that I’m in next. They just, they love me because I made them feel all these different feelings, and that means a lot to me.
“I don’t have bad things to say about anything involving that story, but if you’re asking me was it a tough pill to swallow to come that close and not quite make it? I’d be lying if I said no, it didn’t bother me at all. For sure there was a part of me that had problems digesting that.”
Owens said he talked to Zayn about what an amazing opportunity it was to be in the main event of WrestleMania 39 night one as a way to help his fellow Quebecer digest the loss at Bell Centre, and it sounds like that was just one way Sami applied the Power of Positivity to that process.
You can listen to Satin’s entire conversation with Zayn here.