Indie darling El Generico (now known as Sami Zayn) signed with WWE at the beginning of the year and has since been honing his craft on developmental show NXT, presumably while management comes up with ideas for his main-roster debut.
In a move that disappointed many, Zayn lost his trademark mask. He also dropped the "El Generico" moniker and started going by a version of his real name.
But what do the folks at America's No. 1 wrestling promotion think of their recent signee?
Hey, first impressions, particularly for indie names, are crucial in WWE. Just ask Colt Cabana.
In this week's (subscribers-ony) Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer notes that while management likes his interview style (a huge plus in the promo-obsessed world of WWE), they've also informed the 28-year-old to tone down his high-flying, high-risk in-ring style considerably.
Sami Zayn (El Generico) has been told to slow down and not do so many high spots. The feeling is he’s really good, very intelligent, good promos (which nobody knew about) and they like the spots he does but not to do so many in a match. Plus, there is fear that even though he’s not showing the signs of it today since he’s still young, that all the bumps and crazy moves he did already could catch up to him if he doesn’t tone it down...
Of course, it may be easy for many long-time fans of the grappler to roll their eyes at this report and accuse the company of attempting to jettison the things that made Zayn a star in places like ROH and Dragon Gate USA.
But, really, Vince McMahon and company are just protecting their investment here.
And they do make a fair point: We've seen far too many promising careers ended early due to careless and risky in-ring styles.
As I discussed back in February, injuries stemming from years of reckless bumps forced Mick Foley into early retirement at just 47 years old. Compare him with the likes of Sting and Fit Finlay, both of whom wrestled far safer styles and are both still going strong well into their 50s.
However, hopefully WWE does consider giving Zayn back the mask when he gets called up. Because, more so than high spots or crazy bumps, it really is a crucial part of the act.