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Interview: Sami Zayn talks about Wrestmania, Kevin owens, part-timers in the WWE and much more

'The Underdog from the Underground' has an interesting take on part-timers taking up prominent spots on the Wrestlemania card

Exclusive 16 Mar 2017, 11:49 IST
Sami Zayn is a prominent feature of the Monday Night RAW roster

Sami Zayn is considered by many as one of the best wrestlers in WWE at the moment. He has put on some spectacular matches with the likes of Cesaro, Neville, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe, Chris Jericho, Nakamura in both NXT and WWE. The ‘Underdog from the Underground’ joined the WWE Wrestlemania conference call soon after WWE Fastlane ended and shared his views on wrestling with journalists from around the world.

Here is how the interview turned out:

#1 What are your thoughts on Rick Rude being the latest inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame?

Oh, this is news to me. I’m just finding out now that Rick Rude is being inducted. I hadn’t heard yet, so I think that it’s pretty great. I was a big fan of his when I was younger, and obviously, you know, he was super, super talented, and he just had a really unique look and style about him. So I think it’s pretty cool. Anybody who left a lasting legacy on the WWE, I think, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame at one point or another. He’s definitely an interesting choice. I think that’s great.

#2 What can we expect from you at Wrestlemania?

Well, to be honest, I really don’t know because this time of the year is so crazy and Wrestlemania is so big. There are always these marquee matches, and real estate is really, really tight on Wrestlemania. So I really don’t know what I’ll be doing.

Right now, I’m kind of involved in some, you know, a bit of a problem with Samoa Joe. Whether that will carry on to the show at Wrestlemania or not, I really don’t know. It remains to be seen, but the card for Wrestlemania is, you know, always changing… It’s a big show, and I’m really not sure what I’ll be doing on it if I’m being completely honest with you.

#3 Can you say some words in Spanish for the WWE Universe in Spain?

Laughs… Well, my Spanish is a bit broken, but I could just say, “Ola Amigos in Espania from your Amigo Sami Zayn.”

#4 You made your Wrestlemania debut last year, so what was your experience like?

It was pretty incredible, you know, and I don’t take it for granted because now a year later, I find myself unsure of what I’ll be doing at Wrestlemania. So I realise how lucky I was too kind of come up at the right time, where I was already figured into a storyline with Kevin Owens because of our history there. I kind of got called up at a time where I was able to come right into the scene, you know, and be on Wrestlemania, my first Wrestlemania – The biggest Wrestlemania of all time in Dallas.

So it was pretty overwhelming; honestly, it was awesome. It was just an awesome experience, but now with this year being a little more uncertain for me, I really realise how precious the spot on Wrestlemania is. It kind of just makes that moment or memory of being at Wrestlemania last year even more cherished and even sweeter.

#5 After wrestling on the independent scene for so many years, what was the transition to NXT and WWE like?

It really wasn’t too bad because of the whole point of NXT, the whole reason it is there is to get you ready for the WWE. So NXT is really like a mini version of WWE RAW or SmackDown. I felt pretty well prepared to go in. My time in NXT is real, really precious to me. It was really cherished. I think I accomplished a lot there and we did something as a group also that was special and really made NXT into something.

That one weekend in particular last year in Dallas, where I had my last NXT match and my first Wrestlemania match was a really cool sort of symbolic weekend of making that transition. Ending my NXT career against Nakamura and really getting my WWE career started by performing at Wrestlemania in a ladder match; that was a really cool weekend. It summed it all up for me in a lot of ways about where I’ve been and where I’m headed now. Now I’m here, you know, my time in NXT was great but now I’m in WWE, and I just want to be on much more Wrestlemanias for years to come.

#6 When the 2017 WWE draft come up, would you prefer to stay on RAW or move to SmackDown LIVE?

I really don’t know if I have a preference. In some ways going to SmackDown LIVE would be really, really cool. I feel like there are a lot of great opponents there for me. I think there are a lot of opportunities there. I could really see myself being in a pretty good spot up there wrestling even for the WWE Championship. But the thing is, let’s say the draft was tomorrow; I would feel a little incomplete like there was more I could have accomplished on RAW.

I like to leave each place a little better than I started. I’d like to do more on RAW and make RAW a better place and accomplish more on RAW before I can start even thinking about going to SmakDown. But if that is the way the chips fall and I end up on SmackDown, you know, I’d be happy to be there, but I still do feel that I have more to accomplish on RAW.

#7 Wrestlemania has begun taking shape. So what can we expect from this edition taking into account that we already have Lesnar against Goldberg?

Well, you got a pretty huge main event there with Lesnar and Goldberg, especially now that Goldberg is going into it as the Universal Champion. As you said the card is only just starting to take shape really, so I don’t know how everything aligns, but if you look at Wrestlemania’s history, especially like the last five years or so, you really see that you’re almost guaranteed a great show no matter what the card is. It’s always blockbusters; it’s always the heavy hitters. It’s going to be pretty huge. I just hope I can do something worthwhile on the show – that’s it.

#8 Do you think that we could have surprises like the return of Finn Balor or another superstar?

Yeah. I know Finn Balor is just about ready to be cleared medically, which is great. Obviously, he left as Universal Champion, he was undefeated, and he had to relinquish that title. So you figure he is coming back to a pretty prominent spot that will definitely help the show. I don’t know if he’ll be back before Wrestlemania, at Wrestlemania or after Wrestlemania, I really have no clue. But I do know that any time he does come back, he is going to make RAW a much more interesting show because he’s such an interesting character.

Sami Zayn went up against Samoa Joe at Fastlane in a losing effort

#9 Over the last few weeks, you’ve renewed your rivalry with Samoa Joe from NXT. What has it been like getting back in the ring with him and do you enjoy facing that kind of hard hitting opponent and have really physical matches?

Yeah, Joe is the kind of guy that will, you know, when you’re in the ring with him, it really tests you out, and it tests your physical limitations and abilities. For that reason, I like being in the ring with him, but I don’t really like his actions over the last couple of weeks. He’s aligned himself with Triple H, which is kind of interesting to see where that goes. But definitely, as far as being with him in the ring, I really enjoyed my tie with him at NXT.

Even though we’ve known each other for twelve years, I first met him in 2004-05, the first time we got in the ring with each other was at NXT. I really enjoyed being in the ring with him then, and I enjoy it now. But it’s tough; there is no doubt about it. He is a really, really tough competitor. He is a 100% legit, so you have to know what you’re in for when you’re in the ring with him.

#10 When you’re in the opening match of a PPV, does that affect your preparation at all? Does it change your approach in any way, even like just having less time to prepare?

Yeah, maybe a little bit. When you’re on first or second, you get that kind of really, really hot crowd where they’re just excited the show has started. They are very enthusiastic, and the later you are in the card, the tougher it is because the WWE shows nowadays are really, really good, and there are really good matches so, the crowd gets tired from reacting to all these great matches. It’s harder and harder to elicit the response you want sometimes.

So the later you are on the card, the harder your job is, but a part of me likes that. But on the other hand, being first or second and knowing that you’re going to have a great crowd is also kind of good. I guess in an ideal world, I’d like to be the main event every night but if I wasn’t, a nice spot on the card is usually the second or third match because it has some time to warm up and it’s that right balance where they’re not really tired yet, but they’re warmed up.

The first match is your responsibility because you’re opening that show and you are dictating how the crowd is going to be for the rest of the night. So if your match sucks, then the crowd might suck for the rest of the night. So it’s a lot of responsibility but anyway, you know, there is kind of no bad spot on any WWE PPV.

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