Former WWE Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn along several talents in the company such as Kevin Owens and Daniel Bryan have chosen not to travel with WWE for their shows [or some of their shows] in Saudi Arabia. The WWE has an agreement with Saudi Arabia over the course of a decade. While WWE presents their shows in the country, Sami Zayn launches his ‘Sami For Syria’ mobile clinic before/during shows. Zayn was born to two Syrian parents and has made his efforts public to help those who were affected by the Syrian War with his campaign and mobile clinic.
In 2018, it was reported by Pro Wrestling Sheet that Sami Zayn did not partake in WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia and it was not his decision as Zayn was not booked on the show “to respect the local culture in Saudi Arabia”. WWE released a statement on the matter as well:
“WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.”
Zayn recently appeared on The Blindboy Podcast and he was asked if he is banned from going to Saudi Arabia. Zayn explained that he truly does not know but never checked into it because he’s not keen on going.
“I don’t know. I don’t know the specifics on this. To this day I didn’t really ask because I wasn’t really keen on going anyway. But WWE did a thing, a partnership sort of or signed some sort of deal to put on these shows in Saudi Arabia for I don’t know, what? Ten years or something like that, and I just wasn’t invited to go and I never really dug into it too much because I wasn’t keen on going to begin with, but I would like to discuss that for a moment because there is a certain amount… there’s a certain amount of… what’s the word I’m looking for here? You know, it became very popular, very easy to say, ‘Well you shouldn’t go to this country because they do these awful things’ and I understand it and I agree and if I was asked to perform in Israel, I wouldn’t, right? But at the same time, I perform in the United States, you know what I mean? And I live in the United States. So there’s that sort of dissonance to get your head around a little bit. So I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about all of that.”
Elsewhere during the interview, Sami touched on the change in his character in 2017. He spoke about the mindset he wanted to have as a heel and didn’t want to make too drastic of a change because that would be a complete 180 from what his character represented and believed in-in the five or so years prior.
“Well, so, I think the character’s point of view, because I was delicate about doing too radical of a transformation because that’s also something that you kinda can’t buy so if this guy tells me for five years that he’s about one thing, but then one day he turns bad but he’s about — suddenly he’s saying a complete 180. To me there’s a bit of disconnect there where it’s like, ‘Oh this guy’s now playing this completely different person,’ because it’s so far removed from the original identity that we’ve crafted for you. So, in my case, I try to kind of say the character still believes what he believes, which is he’s always kinda been about doing the right thing and fighting for what’s right and this and that. But now, he’s taken this new outlook on the same viewpoint and so now his methods are just different and he believes himself — he still believes himself to be justified and almost like a martyr, for doing the right thing and he just…”
Sami Zayn made his return to WWE several weeks ago after a five month hiatus. He’ll be in action at the Clash of Champions pay-per-view in a Ladder match for the Intercontinental Title with Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles.
If the quotes from this article are used, please credit The Blindboy Podcast with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcriptions.