Sami Zayn was the guest on a recent episode of Renee Paquette’s Oral Sessions podcast. On the topic of his recent heel run, Zayn told Paquette he has far more creative input then people would expect.
“I have a fair bit,” Zayn said. “I heard Jon’s (Moxley) now infamous podcast. And I understand; that frustration exists to an certain extent for all the talent. Anyone who is remotely creative, and this is excluding WWE and wrestling even.
“If you an artistic and creative person who wants to do things, the higher up you get, the less creative control you have. So it’s a weird relationship between rising and having creative freedom. And that’s the battle between the two. I’m pretty fortunate that I’ve had a lot of my ideas go through. Kind of shocking amounts actually, especially in the last two years.”
Zayn delved further into this process and how he managed to get more input over his stories. One moment he credits for that is, oddly enough, a stint as a special guest referee.
“You never know which segment is going to open their eyes,” Zayn pointed out. “I thought I was doing some really good mic work as a bad guy, even before all this. But then there was this one day where I was like the guest referee for Kevin (Owens) vs. Seth (Rollins). I was just doing me; I didn’t even have any mic time. I was just bantering and the camera would pick it up when I was being a ref.
“When I got to the back they were all just doubled over. Vince was like “you’ve got the gift of gab!” And I wasn’t even cutting a promo; I was being a ref. But they just started seeing me in this new light where ‘this guy, he can do so much.’ I think they saw a broader vision for me in that moment. There was a new trust, maybe to not carry a segment, but that I could be a trusted guy.”
Zayn also detailed his creative process. In his own words, it’s a group effort between himself and the writers, though it’s not always seamless.
“For sure I’m one of the luckier guys. It took awhile for my ideas to get through,” Zayn said. “But I’m sure Jon (Moxley) had a million ideas he was pitching. And he was a top guy. Sometimes you don’t get them through. I just started getting lucky out of nowhere. And then because some of the stuff was working and I had a good relationship with the writers; I don’t know. I’m very lucky. I can’t complain as much as other guys when it comes to pitching things. I’ve gotten away with a lot more than most, so I don’t feel like I’m a position to complain about that.
“When I’m working with writers I’m putting my stuff together. I want to put it together. That’s how I like to work. I like to be in charge of the idea, I like to give it to them, and I like them to edit it a bit and make it concise. Or in the case of a producer make sure it’s in line with Vince’s vision. That’s what I like. I’ve been in certain moments cold and difficult, but the only times I’ve been difficult is when something is dictated to me. I don’t like that. I’ll admit I can be difficult for sure if you’re dictating what I have to do, especially if I don’t think it’s good.
“If you dictate what I have to do and it’s great, I’ll go with it. You’ll get no pushback from me. But if you’re telling me here, this is what we’re doing and it’s not good, I’ll be combative.”
Paquette noted that Zayn is a misunderstood individual at times. He agreed and revealed his least favorite aspect of the backstage environment.
“My problem is I’m not the best at, I hate to use this expression, but playing the game,” Zayn said. “It’s a gift and a curse. My heart’s on my sleeve, I’m very transparent and it’s a gift and a curse. I’ve gotten better at it. But there’s a certain language you speak in a certain vocabulary so to not be so forceful. It’s tact; it’s just tact. And I’ll admit I haven’t always been the most tactful.
“There’ve been times I’ve maybe overestimated the relationship I have with someone, so I’m very upfront with what I say. It’s just about navigating. It’s a never ending learning process of learning to navigate different people. Who you can say what with, how you can say what with. That was never a thing in my life until I got to WWE. So I never learned those skills of Jedi mind tricks and wanting to get my stuff in. But don’t feel bad for me. It all worked out pretty well!”
Sami Zayn will face Kevin Owens at tonight as part of WrestleMania 37 Night Two. Logan Paul will be Sami’s guest for the event. As always, make sure to join us today at Wrestling Inc. for our live coverage of WrestleMania 37, as well as the latest breaking news leading into the event.
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Oral Sessions with Renee Paquette and provide a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.