Sami Zayn put up a valiant effort against Braun Strowman but where is he going after this?
Sami Zayn has lived up to the nickname, “Underdog from the Underground” since the day he got called up to WWE’s main roster. However, this has been emphasized more than ever in recent weeks, emulating his days in NXT.
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Braun Strowman has brought back this underdog persona of Zayn’s, one where he’s always fighting back against the opponent he seemingly can’t beat. In NXT, as Adrian Neville once put it, Zayn “can’t win the big one.” He ended up conquering the Man That Gravity Forgot and won the NXT Championship. But this time around, it doesn’t look like the Likeable One is going to best Strowman, if you don’t count their 10-minute survival match at WWE Roadblock. This was evidenced by the Mountain of a Man’s victory in their Last Man Standing match on Raw.
If we’re about to put this feud to bed, then both men are going to move on. We know Strowman is headed for the Royal Rumble match as a likely favorite. Zayn could enter too, but even heading into this event, his future very much remains unclear.
There’s very little chance that the former ROH star wins the Royal Rumble match and gets a Universal Championship opportunity at WrestleMania 33. While Kevin Owens may still be the titleholder at the show which obviously places their long line of history on the biggest stage, the booking of Zayn would indicate that he’s nowhere close to a main event opportunity.
What it seems like we’re headed for is Zayn and Strowman meeting in the over-the-top-rope match, with the latter getting the best of things again. He has received a main event-level push and may be a guaranteed finalist to win the match. Expect him to have to fight off Zayn and eliminate him to get there.
This continues to make the 32-year-old’s Road to WrestleMania murky, despite the work he’s done in this feud with Strowman. Based on the Last Man Standing match on Raw, he definitely earned an opportunity to do something important in WrestleMania season.
The former ROH star is steadily making his way into the hearts of WWE fans with being the underdog everyone wants to get behind. It’s not quite like Daniel Bryan’s run from 2013-14, but Zayn is a personable character that uses body language and a relentless motor to win over the WWE Universe. He’s not going to get a run like Bryan heading into WrestleMania season, not even close. Although, he has the potential to get a top-level match at the Show of Shows down the line.
Despite the fan support, it would seem that Zayn is either headed for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match, or the now-annual mid-card title ladder match. He was involved in the one for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32, which arguably had been the best match of the show. A return to this bout or the battle royal would be disappointing, though, indicating a lack of development from the previous year. This is unless Zayn walks out with his first main roster championship, a moment that may be likely with the mid-card having drastically changed over the past six months.
If the battle royal is his destination, then he’s bound to get lost in the shuffle of a match that WWE doesn’t seem to take seriously anymore. It started well in 2014, but got moved to the pre-show in 2015 and seemed like a throwaway in 2016.
For Sami Zayn, it may not be until after WrestleMania 33 that we see his future established. Given the opportunities that the brand split has presented to Superstars that may not have previously received a chance, maybe he could be next in line. However, for now, it seems that he’s set to lurk around like he did in the immediate aftermath of the WWE Draft in July.