During a new interview with TNT Sports’ Ariel Helwani, Kevin Owens talked about how he no longer worries about what’s next for him in pro wrestling, because that approach kept him from fully enjoying certain moments in his WWE career, like his Best Friends storyline with Chris Jericho in late 2016 / early 2017.
Owens was asked if he advised Sami Zayn to adopt a similar mindset earlier this year on the road to WrestleMania, particularly to help Sami better enjoy his main event match against Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal championship in Montreal at Elimination Chamber.
Based on KO’s response, it’s evident that Sami was frustrated when WWE booked him to lose that night, despite his undeniable status as the most popular star in the company at that time:
“I really understood whatever frustration there might have been there. I think we had a talk like that a few weeks before WrestleMania, though, because he was still hung up on what could have been, what should been, whatever it might be. Not hung up on it, but you know...
Man, I can’t even imagine what he was going through. Because I have been at times in WWE, pretty popular. And there are times where I felt like, oh I could be The Guy if they just give me a little nudge. But never like him...
The machine didn’t get behind him. They put him in a good spot for sure, but then his performances, his chemistry with the guys involved, and obviously the willingness of those guys to help him move forward. All that got the crowd behind him, it created this movement, and I have never experienced that. And very few people have.
So to know that every single person in every single town we go to... Sami was their guy, everywhere. So to know that, and to know that you’re pretty much The Guy, but you can’t be The Guy...it must be so frustrating. And I can’t pretend to ever have felt that, because the crowd never got behind me that way. So it’s for sure hard to let go.
And like I said, he wasn’t harping on it, I just felt like at one point we had to have a talk and go, look man, [the WrestleMania 39 match with the Usos] is huge. All it took was for me to say that for him to go, yeah you’re right. And then Montreal was done...but man, it’s got to be very frustrating to be in that spot, for sure. Because obviously everybody in that spot would think, ‘Just give me a shot. Let’s go.’ And they just won’t.”
It might be easy to forget just how popular Sami Zayn was six months ago after he turned on Roman Reigns at Royal Rumble. Without hyperbole, I described Reigns vs. Zayn in Montreal as the most anticipated championship match in a decade. Sami was a huge deal, and there was absolutely a good argument to be made that he should go over Reigns on that night.
On the other side of the coin, though, is the fact that TV ratings have been bonkers following WWE’s decision to keep Roman on top over Zayn and then Cody Rhodes at WrestleMania 39. At the very least, even if you think WWE made the wrong decision on Sami or Cody, it’s apparent that the decision WWE did make is working out great for them.
Is there a scenario where things could be just as good or even better now if Sami beat Roman in Montreal and became The Guy? I think it’s worth noting that Roman has not defended the WWE Universal Championship on TV or PPV since WrestleMania, a span of four months now. Did he have to retain the gold in order for The Bloodline story to remain this hot, even though he has not defended the belt on TV or PPV since beating Cody?
I’m done rambling on this topic for now, Cagesiders, so it’s your turn to sound off in the comments below. Do you think WWE should have cemented Sami Zayn as The Guy earlier this year with a championship win over the Tribal Chief?