Zayn seems to be having a lot of fun since returning to SmackDown, and he’s lucky enough to be able to do whatever he wants week after week.
First of all, the fact that you’re listening to this is a good sign, because I’m having a lot of fun out there, Zane said. I do, and I get to do a lot of things I want to do, which is pretty rare in the WWE. We don’t always have the same vision, especially from an artist. You don’t always seem to realize your vision. I’m lucky to be on the show every week, because there are a lot of talented guys who don’t have that luxury. Sometimes they float a bit, and even really talented people often have no real connection to the plots.
So I’m very happy… Since I’ve been back, I’ve been stuck with a really good story called Intercontinental. Now I’m still in the history of the intercontinental title, and I’m also going into this game from the elimination room, Zayn said. So I have no complaints about the way I’m portrayed in the show, and I’m just having fun with the character itself, as you’ve noticed.
Since his return to the blue sign, Zayn’s character has transformed and evolved, and many of these changes and adjustments have really happened in passing as new opportunities have presented themselves.
As for where the character ended up now, I wouldn’t say it’s entirely …. is. I didn’t plan any of this, Zane said. There’s obviously a small element of deception, let’s call it that, when we go back and say I’m still the champion. I’ve never lost, and you have such a victim complex. But then, after I do AJ and Jeff, and I have the title back, and suddenly it’s time to gloat, and then you lose, and start whining and complaining that everyone is against you. So I gradually gravitated towards this kind of conspiracy victim theory, which I hadn’t originally considered at all. But I think he fits the character well and I have a lot of fun with him. I’m having a lot of fun with this.
Zayn’s documentary team gets a lot of video material, so I asked if we could have an office-style documentary presentation after editing, and that’s what we’re planning.
Yes. That’s the plan. Yes. I don’t know if it’s going to be a two-hour feature film or what, but it’s definitely something that’s in the works. I build this place for a reason. I think my goal is firstly to open people’s eyes to an obvious conspiracy against me, but secondly I hope it’s a lot of fun, because I think we have a lot of good shots.
Zayn will compete in the qualifiers for the Universal Championship in the elimination chamber. He has a good track record at this event, having won the Intercontinental Championship for the first time on this pay-per-view television. That’s right. You know what? I didn’t even think about it, Zane said. I remember it being in Philadelphia, and I remember it being the last show with a live audience. So that’s what I have left. But now that you mention it, you’re right. I forgot it was on pay-per-view in the trash room. I guess I didn’t even think about it. It’s a little momentum I picked up last year.
Still, this is the first time he’s played along in a House Elimination Game, which brings its share of challenges, but Zayn is up for it.
But I’ve never been in a liquidation cell. So this is going to be interesting for me, Zane said. One of the things I think is really cool is when you look at the makeup of the SmackDown men’s elimination room game, the guys that are in that game, it’s exciting because even though the game is, if you think about it, at least as an artist, it can make you pretty nervous because a lot of things can go wrong. You can get hurt in this structure and so on. If you look at the guys in this game, it’s guaranteed to be a great game. So I’m very excited about it.
If Zayn wins the match, he will face the Romans for the WWE Championship the same night. The Zayn-Reigns match is one that fans would really like to see. Although it’s a one-off match, Zayn would like to face Reigns in a longer scenario at some point.
Oh, of course. I’m sure of it. I think it’s probably not the best time for the way our characters are connected, because there was a time when he was the good guy and I was the good guy and then I was the bad guy. He was a good guy. Now we’re both villains, Zane said. Right now the characters don’t fit very well, let’s say, for a long story, although it could be very interesting. But I have no doubt that at some point, in the right story, at the right time, in the right set of characters, he would have been a great, great antagonist.
That goes without saying. He sits at the head of the table for a reason, the king said. He’s really, really, really good. Even though he’s been at the top for so long, he’s now reaching an even higher level with his new type lately and the way he acts and presents himself in SmackDown. So he’s probably a guy I want to have fun with, but more than just a game in the elimination room. It’s someone I would want to tell a long story with, because I think it could be very compelling.
When Zayn isn’t in the ring making documentaries for his conspiracy campaign, he’s working to raise donations for his Sami for Syria campaign, helping the Syrian American Medical Society set up a mobile clinic in Syria to provide medical care to those in need.
First, thanks for talking about it. I’m glad every time I get a chance to talk about it and get some more viewers. For viewers who don’t know what the Sami is to Syria: This is a fundraising campaign I started a few years ago by partnering with an organization called SAMS, the Syrian American Medical Society, Zayn said. Basically, we raised all that money to run a mobile clinic on the ground in Syria that will provide medical care to people who are living in refugee camps or whose homes have been destroyed or something. So it’s currently up and running, and it’s thanks to donations from fans that you can donate if you’re interested, at samiforsyria.com, and you’ll see all kinds of updates to some of the services that are offered.
It’s something I’m proud of, and I just said it in an interview, but it’s weird because I’m working on it, and I don’t feel super proud of it all the time, because that’s what I’m trying to do, Zane said. I’m not going to sit and talk: Oh, isn’t it great how I did that? But then, every blue moon, they send me pictures or videos of the clinic in the operating room, and then you see the faces and hear the voices of the people who are actually being treated. They show me the real medical benefits that are handed out, and then I’m a little surprised. Then everything becomes even more real. Different, it is: Guys, we’re trying to raise money. Come in, everyone, if you can. It’s kind of like fundraising then, but you don’t make the connection between the real impact and the impact in the real world until you see it.
(Photo: SAMS/Sami-For-Syria Foundation)
So, I mean, go to samiforsyria.com if you want to see what’s actually being done, because it’s pretty crazy. It’s pretty crazy when you think about it, and I’m glad that when we come together we can have that effect in the world. It was a good lesson for me, because nothing makes you feel more helpless than a war in a foreign country. They say: Oh, my God, that’s awful. I wish I could do something, but in the end we feel helpless. It is the first time in my life that he has opened my eyes, so to speak, to the way he does things: Oh, wait a minute. There are things you can do. Especially when we all come together we have more power than we think, and I think that’s one of the strengths for me, Zane said.
In fact, social media is a huge source of support for the Sami in Syria and shows the positive impact it can have when people unite for a great cause. Yes. With all the negativity that can be said about social media and its toxicity, all the money we’ve raised and gotten just across the border… Since 2017, we have raised over $250,000. And it’s all on social media. So despite all the toxicity that can come from social media, it can also be a very valuable tool and resource for doing good in the world. So it depends on how you use it, Zane said.
(Photo: BOOM! Studio)
You know, we had to talk a little bit about comic books, especially since Zane was in one of them. Zayn and his longtime friend and sometimes enemy Kevin Owens took center stage in Fight Forever, which would fill in some of the holes in their feud. We asked Zayn if there was any other aspect of their feud that would lend itself to a suspenseful comic, and while he didn’t have one, he said there was no shortage of stories that could be easily adapted to the comic world.
When he talked about it, he noted that he had never gotten a comic book before. Now that you mention it, they didn’t even send me this comic book. It’s all mixed up. I really do. He went on to say: Yes. As soon as we get out of here, I’m going to have a little sniff. Why don’t I have this thing?
He should definitely read this, and hopefully, BOOM! The studio sends one of them to read between documentaries.
You can see Zayn in action during the WWE Disposal Chamber, which airs on the WWE Network at 8 p.m. EST. You can check out the live feed from the event here, and you can talk to me about all things WWE on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!