Sami Zayn On The Disconnect Between NXT And WWE, And How Hard It Is To Be Good

The first thing we did when With Spandex arrived in Orlando for WrestleMania week was stop by the Englewood Neighborhood Center to watch Ember Moon, Titus O’Neil and Sami Zayn play dodgeball with a bunch of happy kids. As you might imagine, Sami blended into the crowd of kids perfectly.

We managed to get a few moments to talk to Zayn between the dodgeball festivities and pizza party as part of WWE Community Caravan to talk pro wrestling philosophy, the disconnect between NXT and the WWE main roster, and how hard it is to make your character a good person when everyone else is going crazy. If you even get five minutes in your life to talk philosophy with Sami Zayn, we recommend it.

Here’s what the Underdog from the Underground had to say.

With Spandex: How’s it going, man?

Sami Zayn: I’m pretty good, you know.

Killing it in dodge ball in there.

I got killed in dodge ball, I don’t know about … I got eliminated, like, three or four times. And, between you and me, one of those times, I just snuck back in. I saw Titus cleaning house, I said, this ain’t right. The kids need a WWE rep … Yeah man. What’s wrong with him? He had a full sweat. And, not only that, but like, he was whipping that ball. And then, he whipped the ball, he’d get a kid, and he’d scream, “you’re out of here.”

We got a good video of that.

I’m sure you did. No, but he’s great. He’s really, really good at these community type things. He really gets involved and the amount of sweat is clearly, you know, he puts in the work and that’s, I think it’s really admirable.

Well, you’re no stranger to these [kinds of charity events] at this point either, right?

Yeah, I always like doing this sort of stuff. But, I was just saying, you know, I got interviewed by this other guy and kind of asked me, what’s the take away from this? From all this? Not just for the kids, but for me. And, for me it really encourages me, cause it feels good. And that’s, like, this is like transcends wrestling stuff and like, I don’t know, if you ever talk to me in real life for more than five minutes, it all ends up getting way overly philosophical anyway.

You know, it’s just like a life lesson to where doing good things feels good. And, I should probably do it more often. And, it’s hard because sometimes you don’t have a lot of time, or you’re busy and there’s a million excuses of why not. But like, when you actually go out there and get your hands dirty, so to speak, or you get a good Titus O’Neil sweat on. Because, you’re helping other people or you’re trying to brighten someones day, it feels good. You get high off it. It’s a great feeling, and, you know, just kind of encourages you to do that stuff more often.

Were you, in any way, inspired to do more community service things to your good friend who opened and orphanage in Tijuana?

Well, you can certainly learn from that kind of example, for sure, you know. And, as long as it’s about helping other people, you know, I think it’s very admirable that he left the wresting industry to go help. Honest to God, it’s a, kind of my secret fantasy sometimes, if I ever leave this business, you know. It would be to got, out don’t know, be like an activist or do something good or help people or, I don’t know. Try to do some good in the world.

The thing that I would want to ask you is in WWE, especially now, there are a lot of heroes, people that we are suppose to cheer for, they’re so complexly gray, you know, they do bad things for the right reasons. The thing that I always love about Sami Zayn is that, he’s basically the only decent human being left in the promotion. Like, he’s the only one who seems to do things that are right for the right reasons. I mean, he could’ve hit Neville with the belt to win the NXT Championship, but he didn’t. One of the best wrestling moments in the past five years.

Well, I mean … He’s also been eclipsed by Kevin Owens, So, maybe that’s a life lesson, like, the harsh realities of life that maybe doing the right thing always get you ahead.

Do you think it’s harder to be good?

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Again, we’re getting past wrestling.

Let’s do it, let’s knock it out.

And we’re just getting, like, you know, philosophical about life here. But, of course it’s hard to do the right thing. Way harder to do the right thing, than it is to do the wrong thing. And, for sure I think that in recent months the character has really started to show that side a lot more. Which is something that I think is good, because … The cool thing about NXT, you mentioned that moment where, you know, that pivotal moment in the NXT Championship match where I had the chance to do something …

The wrong way or the right way and I chose to do the right thing. And, I ended up winning the NXT Championship. Which is great but, the thing that made that moment so special, there was basically three or two and a half years or what ever it was, of investment from that fan base of seeing the quest.


And the evolution of this character and understanding this character, like, no this guy like look, it’s going to be hard for you. I realized that. WWE is not going to be easy for me. It’s very hard, it’s going to be very hard for me. A lot harder for me than it’s going to be for Joe or Kevin or for a lot of guys. It’s going to be a tough road. But, like, once you get to the top, it’s going to be so worth it, because you did it your way. Right? That’s … There’s a lesson in that. And, those fans in NXT got to see that arc. That kind of story come to a head.

And, since I’ve come to the main roster, it’s a very weird transition when you go from NXT to the main roster because, the main roster is sometimes confused. Like, why have I been hearing so many great things about this person, like … Because, the thing is, when you come to the main roster, you’re the finished product. But, the NXT fans got to see that evolution. So, now what’s cool is that the main roster fans are stating to see this evolution of the character when, maybe they didn’t understand who I was. They saw me come out with a hat and a jacket and, you know, to some upbeat kind of music. And, they didn’t really understand who I am or what I am about. But, now in the last couple of months, I think they’re getting to see what that, you know, what that character’s sort of all about.

And, you know, it’s sort of an ideal. I don’t how much of it I embody in real life. I’d like to think I do. Probably pretty similar, but, certainly it’s an ideal that I hold very near and dear to me. And I think it’s something very important. And, I do believe that, you know, there’s a lot of satisfaction in doing things, quote, the right way, but, as long as it is your way.

Your way and the right way. But, they don’t have to be exclusive. You know what I mean?