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QUICK QUOTES: Sami Zayn on stereotypes in wrestling; the evolution of the locker room

Photo By Miguel Discart - https://www.flickr.com/photos/miguel_discart/26872631422/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48798457

Joe.co.uk featured an interview with Sami Zayn this week. Topics included Zayn’s background, the evolution of wrestling both inside and outside of the ring and much more.

Regarding his multi-cultural background and family:

“I am what I am and being Arab, and being Canadian, and having red hair or whatever, it’s all just gone into making me what I am. When I had the opportunity to come to WWE, and not necessarily play a character but essentially a version of myself, it was something kind of cool that I could represent Middle Eastern fans in a way that hasn’t really been done before. And it’s a little more true to life – I’m not saying I’m the prime representative of Arabs, but it’s certainly more accurate than the Iron Sheik, or whatever.

“Before (my Syrian family members) came to Canada, they knew me through WWE, they were wrestling fans. They grew up in Syria, I grew up in Canada, so we didn’t really know each other. They know me more as Sami Zayn than me, which is really funny. They’re 15 years old, and they’re my cousin’s sons, and they call me Sami! ‘Sami Zayn’s coming over!’ (I have to say,) ‘No, no, no! Sami Zayn is on TV; I’m coming over!”

On the smarter, less wild, lifestyle of a wrestler today compared to 20-30 years ago:

“It’s not just the wrestling industry that has changed, the world has changed. Unfortunately, a lot of that generation paid a very heavy price for it. And it would be very silly for our generation to not learn from their mistakes. Not to mention the WWE wellness policy as well, which I think is a great thing, honestly. It sort of keeps people in check! But at the end of the day, I think matches are at a higher level than ever, the quality of talent we have now has never been better, and the work rate has never been higher.

On the high-risk style of work rate today compared to back then:

“Even that is scaling down a little these days. Definitely, we are performing more moves now, and they are high impact moves. The game has changed since the ’80s, where you could punch and kick and headlock, and do one suplex, and that’s a 25-minute match. Those days are gone and you’ve got to adapt accordingly.

“But I think when I started wrestling on the independents it was definitely a time when people were pushing the envelope on how risky or dangerous some stunts could be. Whereas now I think a lot of the stunt show aspect of it has gone down. There’s a lot more technical skill executing these moves than it is falling off a giant scaffold or something like that. I think the stunt show aspect of the business has regressed, which is a good thing.”

To read the entire article, which also includes discussion about Sami’s love for ska music, his run-in with Aaron Paul, and even a mention of El Generico, check out Joe.co.uk.

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