Without a question, WWE’s hottest act heading into the Road to WrestleMania is The Bloodline, and Sami Zayn has undoubtedly played a crucial role in that. Zayn joined the group in May of last year as an honorary member and has since fought to prove his loyalty to the group, winning fans over thanks to his efforts despite his heelish actions.
Zayn recently spoke to Ariel Helwani of BT Sport ahead of this Saturday’s Royal Rumble premium live event, where he was asked about the prospect of him being the one to dethrone Roman Reigns as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. With the story of Zayn proving his allegiance to The Bloodline building for several months now, many fans believe that WWE may be putting themselves in a 2014 Daniel Bryan-like situation in that fans could turn on Reigns’ eventual successor should it turn out to not be Zayn.
Sami however doesn’t feel as though that will be the case, as he believes the WWE Universe don’t have the level of contempt for the creative direction of the show’s programming for such an uproar to be created.
“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. 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.”-Sami Zayn
Zayn followed that up, however, by acknowledging that whilst he doesn’t think WWE fans currently resent the creative direction of the company, poor storyline execution could lead to a Cody Rhodes or whoever else emerges victorious from the men’s Royal Rumble receiving backlash.
“I don’t think that it’s necessarily the same. 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
Turning the focus of the interview back to the prospect of WWE pulling the trigger on Zayn, Helwani asked the ‘Honorary Uce’ whether he believes he could be the face of the company. Zayn responded by stating that he absolutely thinks he could hold WWE’s top titles for an extended period of time, although he’s unsure as to whether he could be the franchise player in a manner similar to The Rock or John Cena.
“I could win the World Title. 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.”-Sami Zayn
Following up on his point, Zayn emphasised that whilst he thinks he’d have no problem with the media obligations that’d come with being the face of WWE, he believes from an optics perspective he wouldn’t exactly be what the company are looking for in that role.
“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. 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 mould. 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,”-Sami Zayn
As of writing, Zayn isn’t scheduled to be in the Royal Rumble match itself, however Roman Reigns did state that he’ll be facing his “final test” from the ‘Tribal Chief’ at the event.
This year’s Royal Rumble will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, and will feature Reigns defending the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship against Zayn’s real-life best friend Kevin Owens.
H/T to Fightful for the transcription.