Representation is indeed a powerful and transformative force in media, and professional wrestling is no exception. Sami Zayn has played a significant role in bringing positive representation to the forefront.
In an interview with Inside The Ropes, Zayn expressed the significance of his return to Saudi Arabia for Night of Champions as part of the Bloodline storyline. Growing up as an Arab and Muslim, he shared his experience of not seeing positive representation of his culture in the media. Stereotypes and negative portrayals were prevalent, which often overshadowed the diversity and richness of these communities.
Zayn spoke about the perception that if he ever made it to WWE, he might have been pigeonholed into playing a terrorist character due to these stereotypes. However, he broke those barriers and defied expectations by bringing a different portrayal of his ethnicity and background to the forefront.
“That was a pretty big deal for me for a number of reasons. That whole trip was really, really, really remarkable. On some level, even as a child, being an Arab or Muslim growing up and never really seeing a positive representation of that in media, I always just assumed that if I ever got to WWE, I’d have to play like a terrorist or something like that … That was just the perception and the portrayal of Arabs and Muslims on television. Never mind WWE, just in media. It was always sort of a thing in the back of my head [that] I’d love to change that one day.”
While Zayn’s Syrian-Canadian heritage has always been a part of his character, it is his unique personality traits, such as his quirkiness, love for ska music, and incredible in-ring skills, that have truly defined his WWE persona. By showcasing a well-rounded character that goes beyond stereotypes, Zayn has become a positive role model for fans of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent.
Through his accomplishments and the impact he has made, Zayn continues to contribute to the evolving landscape of representation in professional wrestling, creating a more inclusive and authentic space for fans of all backgrounds.
What are your thoughts on Sami Zayn’s journey as a positive representation for individuals of Middle Eastern and Muslim descent in professional wrestling? Leave a comment below.