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YMMV / Sami Zayn

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  • Broken Base: His Face–Heel Turn. To some (Like Dave Meltzer), it's a necessary and refreshing change to a character that was seen as bland and a glorified jobber. To others (Like Josh Scorcher), it's an unnecessary and out of character moment, comparable to the "Captain America was a Hydra agent" plotline, that is justified by Insane Troll Logic and that completely invalidates his entire Character Arc in NXT and takes away the very thing that makes him a unique character in the first place.note  Of course, there are those who Take a Third Option, sharing the second groups distaste, but are optimistically trying to come up with complicated theories to justify it's inclusion.
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  • Ear Worm: His themes in NXT, "Lower the Boom" and "Worlds Apart".
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: As Sami Zayn, he's beloved by the NXT crowds, to the point that simply saying "Sami Zayn" will prompt the entire crowd to start singing the "Ole!" song. And this is before making his debut on the main roster.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
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  • Fridge Logic: If Generico and Zayn are, according to Kevin Steen, different people, why does Steen hate Zayn so much? It was explained as Steen/Owens resenting that Zayn got called to WWE before he did, despite having spent so much of their careers together and being on equal levels as wrestlers.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Outside of the USA, where NXT is actually broadcast on television, he was already massively over in the WWE before his debut on the main roster. To put it in perspective, the WWE were taking him on international tours whilst he was still in NXT precisely because of this.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Part of Sami Zayn's character in WWE is that he and Kevin basically do everything together. If they're not friends, they're typically feuding directly with each other. Commentators have even suggested that this strong bond is holding both guys back. This held true in a very unfortunate Real Life way in 2018, where both suffered injuries and had to go onto the shelf for bilateral surgeries (Zayn on his shoulders, KO a few months later on his knees). Coincidentally, both guys were also written off TV via PPV losses to Bobby Lashley.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
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    • Has started a charity called Sami for Syria, which works with SAMS (the Syrian-American Medical Society) to provide mobile medical clinics in war zones in Syria. It's raised over $93,000 so far.
    • Pretty much any time he's asked about his 15-year Real Life friendship with Kevin Steen, as Zayn can't say enough about how talented and awesome he thinks Steen is.
    • The day that Sami received his WWE contract, he took it straight over to Kevin's house to sign, saying "it's our contract". Kevin returned the favor on the night he won the Universal Championship, hugging Sami backstage and telling him "this is ours".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: While on Chris Jericho's podcast the subject of merchandise came up. Jericho asked Sami why the WWE wasn't selling his now iconic flatcap as a part of his merch. Sami laughed it off saying it would the lamest merch item they could sell. Cut to a few months later...
  • Ho Yay: With Kevin Owens. It dates all the way back to their days teaming together in the indies as Kevin Steen and El Generico. After the betrayal that started what many considered to be the greatest feud in Ring of Honor history, it turned into Foe Yay and it became very clear that they, as Steen put it, were "destined to do this forever." It was months before El Generico finally found it in himself to hit Kevin Steen, and that was only after the encouragement of Colt Cabana and Steen's constant abuse. To say nothing of the mind games, the heated stares, Steen's fixation with Generico's mask... upon rewatching the entire feud, the Homoerotic Subtext of their rivalry (which was possibly acknowledged at Final Battle 2010 when Steen kissed Generico on the lips) becomes much more evident. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the feud continued in NXT, and then again on the WWE main roster. It comes off as a very bitter breakup at times, or a love/hate Masochism Tango that has them intertwined for eternity, which both have lampshaded:
    Sami: One thing I can tell you for sure when it comes to Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens? That story is never over.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Brainbustaaaaahhhhh!!!!!"
    • The "Olé!" chants are so tied to him, that when the WWE tried to give an "Olé!" chant to Los Matadores (as in, the "Ooooh-lé!" heard in bullfights, as opposed to the "O-LEH!" used in football chants that is the one associated with El Generico), the NXT audiences just carried on singing the "O-LEH!" one in support of Generico/Zayn instead.
    • Fans pretending every time "Zayn" is trending in reference to ex-One Direction singer Zayn Malik that it's about Sami Zayn instead. The reverse ended up happening during Sami's debut on RAW to challenge John Cena for the United States championship, where Sami Zayn began trending and One Direction fans believed it was about Zayn Malik.
    • Translating "Sami Zayn" to Arabic and back again. See "Fridge Brilliance" above.
    • Much in the vein of "Guile's Theme Goes With Everything", now we have "Sami Zayn Theme Goes With Every Anime Opening" on YouTube.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Of course, that was before he took time off, came back in late 2006, and formed a permanent Tag Team in 2007 with another fellow Canadian Scrappy which produced a memorable match against the Briscoe Brothers, earning them both full-time spots and a second chance with the fans. The rest speaks for itself.
  • The Scrappy: Believe it or not, El Generico was actually kinda hated by ROH fans in his first year there, as they felt that he didn't deserve to be part of the company due to many flaws in his then-fledgling ring work which they proceeded to pick apart.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Overlaps with Unintentionally Sympathetic, but excluding Daniel Bryan's participation, many fans sided with Owens and Zayn regarding their in-universe mistreatment by Shane McMahon. This is even brought up by Zayn in his post-heel turn promo, pointing out how Shane (the ostensible babyface of the feud) seems to be acting like a psychopath, punishing Owens (and subsequently, Zayn) far beyond simple retribution for Owens' headbutting his father and constantly screwing them out of title wins. It continues into their return to Raw, where fans would consistently cheer the witty heel antics of Zayn over the excruciatingly awkward and bland babyface Lashley.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: There were a lot of unhappy campers when it was reported that he would be ditching his masked persona as El Generico after signing with WWE. Once he removed the mask, though, people were impressed by his rich facial expressions, as well as his ability to cut a very passionate and genuine-sounding promo.
    • After his heel turn at Hell in a Cell 2017, there was a lot of complaining that WWE had "ruined" one of the best natural babyfaces in years and the "heart and soul of NXT". While Sami proved himself to have the same talent at cutting heel promos and ability to entertain as he had as a babyface, many fans still see this as terrible writing for the character, even while they praise the performer for doing a stellar job at what is essentially polishing a turd.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Given the natural chemistry of the pairing of Owens and Zayn, combined with both being stellar in-ring workers with disparate yet complementary styles and their history as an indy tag team, one could very easily make the argument that WWE missed a huge opportunity by not throwing the pair into the tag team division after their program with Shane McMahon had guttered. It would have given the two a great niche, freshened up the tag team scene after what one could contend was a few too many matches between The Bar, The New Day, and The Usos (all great teams, obviously, but WWE somewhat ran the rivalries into the ground). And it may have even kept the injuries each suffered from getting as bad as they did.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Sami has a tendency to outright steal the show when given the right opponent.

Alternative Title(s): El Generico

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