I am getting a sense that the “Underdog from the Underground” might be on a path to be the top dog.
OK, I am sure there is a bit of wishful thinking with this, but I’m starting to get that legitimate sense. Yes, the same sense that thought Finn Balor would have returned in time for WrestleMania and Samoa Joe was going to debut at any point over the last 18 months – give or take. But still, it’s a sense.
Since getting the call up to the main roster early last year, it seems that Sami Zayn is far from where he should be based on his in-ring abilities and fan following. He and Kevin Owens had some of the most entertaining matches in 2016. I may be a bit biased since I was in attendance, but I think their match at Payback was a strong candidate for Match of the Year.
Since then, Owens held the Universal Championship for nearly six months. Zayn, well, didn’t.
After the epic feud between the two long-time friends, Zayn seemed to just be pushed to the side – used only to enhance dominant forces on Raw like Braun Strowman and Samoa Joe. During those two programs, though, there seemed to be a small element of “defying authority” involved. Zayn would be put in these matches against the monsters of Raw because he would defend Mick Foley against Stephanie McMahon.
A battle against an authority figure is a tried and true way to build a star towards the top – always has been. Some say it’s a bit overused, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work anymore. Daniel Bryan’s ultimate rise to superstardom was based on him going against with Triple H and Stephanie said about him being a “B+ Player” just a couple years ago. Coincidently, WrestleMania takes place next year in the SuperDome in New Orleans, the same place where Daniel Bryan stole the show at WrestleMania 30. In a sense Seth Rollins vs Triple H is somewhat based on the same concept.
If you think about it, the story of Zayn coming close but was always knocked back started the night after WrestleMania last year. Sami was set to compete in the Fatal 4-Way match with Owens, Chris Jericho and AJ Styles to determine the new #1 Contender for the WWE Championship. Before the match started though, Zayn was taken out in the back by Owens. While it continued their great story, it kept Zayn out of the title picture.
WWE writers can use this has the foundation of a storyline for WrestleMania next year. They could spend the rest of this year building on Zayn coming so close but being held back, he fights his way into the Royal Rumble, wins, goes to WrestleMania and beats the championship.
Just picture it for a minute – think of the kind of crowd that fills the 70,000+ seat stadiums for the Grandaddy of the All every year. Think of their reaction when they see someone that they had been behind since El Generico days holding one of the two top prizes in the biggest wrestling company in the world! Add Sami’s music blasting on the speakers and you have the makings for a true WrestleMania moment.
Yes it seems like a long shot – but you can’t argue that the pieces are there. Now it’s just up to the writers to put those pieces together.