Welcome to a more-even-handed edition of
OFF-TRACK with A-TRAIN
with fewer jokes and more honest musings
about one of my favorite performers
and the cruel nature of reality
Sami Zayn has had a hell of a year.
Pardon me. I meant to say that Sami Zayn has had a HELLUVA year.
But it appears he's not getting rewarded with a WrestleMania program.
He was in the multi-man Intercontinental Title Ladder Match that tore the house down last year, the night after a MOTY candidate showing against the debuting Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Takeover Dallas. He rekindled an old feud with former best friend turned nemesis Kevin Owens, culminating in another classic match where he beat KO at Battleground. Since then, he's been routinely putting over other guys, but doing it in grand fashion, turning in excellent performance after excellent performance, and it was his program with Braun Strowman that allowed the Monster Among Men to transition from jobber-squasher to Roman Reigns opponent.
If you had to summarize the typical Sami Zayn match over the past several months, you would say this:
Sami Zayn makes himself and other guy look like a million bucks and then he loses.
It's a vital role in any wrestling promotion, and Sami plays it to a T.
But is he happy playing it?
We already know that Sami thinks very highly of himself, going so far as to say that Raw is better than SmackDown because he's on Raw.
That's not the ego of an underdog.
And now we have these comments, from a media conference call, and published in The Sun, in which Sami talks about how much he hates part-timers coming in and cutting in line.
He doesn't say those words exactly, but remember, this is Sami Zayn we're talking about, the whitest of white meat babyfaces. When he says things like this, it's the equivalent of taking a blowtorch to somebody.
"Selfishly, of course part of me thinks, 'Hey, get the hell out of here, this is our show, we work here every week'. It would be stupid to ignore that."
I mean, "part of me thinks Get the hell out of here" is pretty strong for Sami Zayn.
And then there were his comments about Kevin Owens (his kayfabe mortal enemy, remember) having to put over Goldberg and give up the Universal Title to the most part-time of part-timers.
"I can say a lot about Kevin Owens, but I've also seen him busting his ass for the last eight months as Universal Champion, doing street fights on live events, going through tables every night, getting beaten up. So personal feelings aside you think, 'Man that guy works hard all year he deserves to be rewarded when the time is right'."
He softens it with the next comment, saying that even though he doesn't like it, he understands.
"But at the same time, Brock Lesnar or Bill Goldberg coming in… the fans like it, it's good for business, and if it's good for business, it's good for me in a roundabout way."
But this seems more like a guy repeating what he's been told by someone else, trying to convince himself more than anything else.
Look at what he says about WrestleMania.
"Do I wish I was main eventing WrestleMania and not Bill Goldberg? Yes, absolutely. But you know, might it be better in some way to bring these guys in to help business. If it's helping business, it's helping me."
As much as I like to make fun of him, call him Sweaty Dad and whatnot, there's no denying that Goldberg is over. Massively over.
And there's no denying that he's brought more eyes to the product, at least in the short term. He's "helping business" as Sami puts it, and like it or not, the business concerns come first.
Sometimes, though, it seems like they come first, second, third, fourth and fifth.
And for sometone like Sami Zayn--and for someone like me, who likes Sami Zayn--that sucks.
I've said that there's an alternate universe in which Sami and KO's feud built to a fever pitch and they ended up Main Eventing the Showcase of the Immortals, with the Universal Title on the line, and Sami Zayn comes out on top and the fans tear the stadium apart with their cheers. But that's not the universe we live in.
It's just not. And I understand that. So does Sami Zayn.
To parrot a line used so often about another white meat babyface underdog, Sami Zayn is not what's best for business.
I understand that.
It sucks. But I understand that.
And it seems like Sami Zayn is trying to understand that, too.