We’re a few weeks into Sami Zayn‘s heel run, and there have been some real highs and lows so far. At certain points, he’s used his ability to tell stories with his eyes and movements wonderfully. But then in backstage segments, he’s shown a lack of self-awareness that could really hold him down as a character.
Zayn is a veteran of the industry and has done just about everything that a worker can do. It seems like he’ll be united with Kevin Owens for the foreseeable future, and it might even make more sense for those two to run as a tag team more than individuals for the time being.
With that being the case, Zayn can’t keep simply walking out to the ring jumping up and down behind Owens like he’s Scrappy-Doo. A massive shift in attitude calls for a repackage of some kind, and it’s time for the WWE to really go all-in on heel Sami by giving him new entrance music and a fresh look.
At this juncture, it seems like he’s only walking to the ring to mock the person that he used to be. Zayn has been doing a goofy and exaggerated version of the gleeful skip he used to approach the ring with. He sarcastically grins at the crowd while still wearing his famous “grandpa” hat.
There are traces of his El Generico character coming through, but not enough of it to make things feel genuine. For Zayn to really come across as the corner-cutting heel that creative wants him to be, he needs to be presented to the audience in a different way.
Don’t underestimate what the right gimmick shift can do for performers. The Usos are probably the best and most recent example of how a successful repackage can help propel superstars to new heights. Sure, it took the Day One Ish stuff a few months to gain traction, but Jimmy and Jey stuck with it and tapped into real parts of their personalities to get it over.
Now they’re being bandied about as the top tag team in the WWE. That would have never been possible had they continued to wear face paint and brightly colored garb.
Zayn doesn’t need to come out to the ring dressed in all black, and he doesn’t need a separate identity like Finn Balor has with the demon. He simply needs music and in-ring attire that match his new-found attitude. Especially if the WWE plans on this being a permanent thing for the Underdog from the Underground.
There isn’t a ticking clock on the repackage, but the sooner Zayn is allowed to fully embrace the heel character, the better. Owens wouldn’t be an effective character if he didn’t have the entrance and attire to match his attitude. Right now, Zayn is fighting uphill against his old persona, and unless the WWE intends to take that subtle storyline on, he needs to be repackaged in a way that makes sense for who he is today.