WWE TLC: Hard work paying off for Arab idol Sami Zayn

Barnaby Read 10:53 08/02/2017
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Zayn has so far been short of meaningful runs.

Earlier this week, Sami Zayn tweeted that it was four years to the day that he signed with WWE and turned up for his first day on the job at NXT.

It seems a lot has happened for Zayn in that time but bar one NXT Championship run, the gold and main event status has been kept at arm’s length from him.

WWE TLC met Zayn while he was NXT Champion and you couldn’t wish for a more humble, dedicated man. He spoke out about the demonisation of Muslims this week – a move as brave as it was unsurprising given his pride at the Syrian roots that run through his blood.

In the ring, Zayn has not once failed to deliver the goods. His performance in the ladder match for the Intercontinental Title at last year’s WrestleMania and feud with Kevin Owens were two highlights of the 2016 WWE calendar.

Zayn’s rivalry with the latter, which began in NXT, has served up some of the greatest matches in years, as highlighted when they met in a street fight at a live show this week.

But, while Owens has gone on to take ownership of the Universal Title and position himself at the forefront of the RAW brand, Zayn has found life a lot harder.

Now, that of course plays into his depiction as ‘The Underdog from the Underground’ and it’s understandable that anyone billed as such would have to defy the odds.

We get it.

But the problem for many in the WWE Universe has been that Zayn appears to be constantly fighting a losing battle and is time and time again denied opportunity to progress and score the big win that commentators play up when talking about his fighting spirit.

That seems to have changed in recent weeks, however, and 2017 could well be the year Zayn gets positioned with more prominence.

You don’t want to jinx it, but in the past three weeks Zayn has main evented RAW, beaten Seth Rollins, lasted 47 minutes in the Royal Rumble and defeated Chris Jericho.

The man himself even tweeted his pleasure at that run.

And you can understand his joy; since making his debut last year this kind of exposure has been hard to come by for Zayn.

Thankfully, it points to something bigger and a US Title shot followed on RAW this week before he was screwed out of contention by Owens in support of his best mate Jericho.

This time, Zayn’s defeat was okay.

We all know the history with Owens and anyone would want to see more of that, while it also means Zayn will surely be given another go at Jericho until there is a clean victory.

That day will come and Zayn, you feel, is on the cusp of being rewarded for his incredible work ethic, natural rapport with the fans and undeniable talent.

Hopefully, that day comes sooner rather than later because few others deserve it more.

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