wrestling / Columns

Should Sami Zayn Dethrone Roman Reigns At WrestleMania?

January 4, 2023 | Posted by Jonathan Hunter
Roman Reigns Sami Zayn WWE Smackdown Image Credit: WWE

The Head of the Table
For over 850 days, Roman Reigns has pushed aside all challengers to his WWE Universal Championship. Debate about Roman’s real value aside, whoever finally takes the belts from him will be a made man. That, then, is the crux of the issue. WWE has one shot. One opportunity to use the end of Reigns’ historic title reign to give one of the biggest rubs in the entire industry to another wrestler and, in the process, cement a new top babyface. This is changing of the guard type stuff.

Do you use that silver bullet on Sami Zayn?

Honorary Uce
The unexpected chemistry between Sami, Roman, and particularly Jey Uso in the Bloodline storyline has been a revelation. After a trite beginning, Sami quietly shed some of the more cloyingly irritating aspects of his performance. He became more earnest and sincere in his desire to join the “family.” Jey’s disbelieving antagonism as his brother, cousins, and Paul Heyman seemed to gradually embrace Zayn has been pitch-perfect. The Bloodline, rapidly growing stale, became must-see TV.

All of his has led to Sami Zayn, fervent and genuine in his loyalty to Roman, becoming one of the most sympathetic and loved wrestlers in WWE (despite effectively being a top heel). In September, the mere tease of the Bloodline finally dumping Sami produced one of the loudest, most organic crowd reactions heard in WWE in a long time. This is a story that the fans are invested in. We know that, inevitably, Roman will give Sami the thumbs down; we desperately don’t want it to happen. Sami’s heartbreak will be that of the fans.

You broke my heart
Zayn has only occasionally been given the opportunity on the WWE main roster to demonstrate just how good he truly is. He is, quite simply, one of the most natural babyfaces of the past two decades. It’s been forgotten in a WWE that seems to have lost the ability to book the “good guy” properly. Zayn’s NXT title win was a magical moment that the crowd connected with on that deeper level.

When Roman Reigns and his family ultimately destroy him, there will be no more sympathetic performer in the entire wrestling world than Sami Zayn. The storyline then demands that Sami overcomes and gives the villains their comeuppance.

Is Sami the “one”?
Jerry Jarrett famously had a sign in his Tennessee office that said “personal issues draw money.” There will be no more personal issue than Sami Zayn versus the Bloodline. For the story to be satisfying, Zayn needs to battle through the challenges and ultimately score a decisive victory. Much like they were fhe fans would absolutely be along for the ride.

Sami Zayn. Roman Reigns. The WWE Universal Championship. WrestleMania.

Despite it all, I can’t see this as the main event, headlining the “granddaddy of them all.” Zayn is not at that level of stardom. He wrestled a terrific comedy match last year at Mania, but a comedy match nonetheless. You can make a performer with a major Mania win, but usually there is a buildup to that kind of marquee status.
Have a Nice Day?

Mick Foley was one of the biggest stars of the Attitude era. But he was never the marquee headliner that was Rock, Austin, or even Undertaker. That doesn’t take away from how much fans adored Mrs. Foley’s baby boy. His first WWF title victory is one of the most memorable moments of all-time.

Foley also, through three WWE Championship reigns, held the title for a mere 47 days.

For better or worse, Sami Zayn seems to fit the mold of a Mick Foley rather than a Rock, Cena, or even Batista. His look is shabby; he hasn’t taken a t-shirt off for a match in almost a year (or so it seems). He isn’t the typical “star.” I absolutely could see Zayn having a short title run. But a long, “carry the company” run?

It pains me to say it, but I don’t see Zayn as the right person to take the title from Roman. They get one chance to finally beat Roman. Even in Triple H’s WWE, it’s hard to see Zayn as being the #1 guy. Would it surprise anyone for Sami to win and then have a lackluster, short title reign along the lines of Kofi Kingston?

Unless WWE is going to push Sami hard, in a way that they haven’t pushed an underdog babyface in ages, he is not the right guy to beat Roman. Even in HHH’s fed, I don’t know if I see that happening.

The other side of this coin is that Sami needs to get vengeance on the Bloodline for what they are going to do to him. It would be highly unsatisfying for Sami to get a shot at Roman only to lose. The issues between Sami and Jey Uso make a Sami/KO vs Usos program logical, seeing the forever frenemies finally ending the twins’ epic tag title run. But would that be enough?

Based on storyline and emotional investment by the fans, Sami Zayn defeating Roman Reigns is a sound choice. Based on the “bigger picture,” Zayn may not be the right person for the job.

If the rumours of The Rock returning to face Roman at ‘Mania are true, how do you possibly say “no” to that match-up? Roman vs The Rock, the ultimate “head of the table.” I don’t particularly love the idea of Rocky returning for one match-up and taking the main event, but I certainly won’t argue against Rock’s star power and how much bigger that match is to promote over Zayn vs Roman.


What if Roman isn’t dropping the title at WrestleMania as many fans, including myself, expect? It would be an astonishing waste to have The Rock dethrone Roman. In Vince’s WWE, I wouldn’t be surprised. In HHH’s WWE, the possibilities are less obvious.

Do you end Roman’s reign at a SummerSlam, instead? Is that acceptable? As big a moment as finally beating Roman will be, must it be at WrestleMania?

The Dusty Finish

Because of Vince McMahon’s insatiable erection for Roman Reigns, much of the past half-decade of WWE has seen potential stars and top guys sacrificed at the altar of a good-looking Samoan guy with five moves. I admit I’m being cheeky, but to me, Roman’s terrific work of the past two years does not negate the horrible booking and lousy job he did for far more years. In some ways, WWE is a wasteland of mishandled talent. Throughout Roman’s lengthy reign of dominance, where was the babyface being built-up to slay the dragon? Drew McIntyre was the best, last choice…

It’s ironic, then, that if not Sami Zayn, the most credible babyface threat and best positioned wrestler to slay that dragon is Cody Rhodes. By leaving WWE and forging his own path, however you personally rate Cody, there is no question that he returned to WWE a bigger star than he has ever been. He has a built-in story of wanting to win the title his legendary father never could. Cody has the ability to truly connect with the fans. And in many ways, his gruesome pec injury going into Hell in a Cell is a blessing — There was no chance of Cody getting stale or the crowd turning against him. IF Cody Rhodes is able to return for the Royal Rumble, or to feud going into SummerSlam, he is likely to be even more over due to his gutsy, iconic performance inside the Cell, ghastly purple bruising all over his chest.

To the point: the “American Nightmare” is also the kind of man who can be the “face of the company.” Cody is a big-time player who can do all the things required of a tippy-top guy in terms of delivering in-ring, promos, presence, press, and all the extras that come along with the job. He is a guy who could main event for a long time. He ticks the boxes.


The fickle but passionate fans reject Cody because of their love for Sami Zayn.

Rambling Man
The preceding column is longer than I wanted it to be, and less focused than I had hoped. These thoughts have been percolating in my wet brain for weeks. It was important that I finally put proverbial “pen to paper.”

What do you think? Is Sami Zayn the right guy to dethrone Roman Reigns? If not, how do you end his storyline with the Bloodline in a satisfying fashion? Is Cody the guy? Will Roman even lose the belts at WrestleMania? Will I ever get to see the goddamn sailboat? Sound off in the comments.

This is Jonathan “obviously a fake name” Hunter leaving you with this pearl of wisdom: “Why couldn’t she be the other kind of Mermaid? With the fish part on top and the lady part on the bottom?”

Hey, maybe this El Generico kid should be in the discussion…