WWE stars warned: Aim for John Cena Level or Leave

Sami Zayn unveils surprising behind-the-scenes pressures at NXT.

by Noman Rasool
WWE stars warned: Aim for John Cena Level or Leave

Sami Zayn, a celebrated professional wrestler in the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has had an impressive run over the past six months. However, his journey could have been smoother-sailing, especially during his initial stint in WWE's developmental territory, NXT.

Before he engaged with WWE, Zayn had left his mark in the wrestling world on various global stages. Nevertheless, he was inducted into the company's NXT program upon his arrival at WWE. It was during this period that he encountered some challenging perspectives.

2015 Zayn made his much-anticipated WWE main roster debut, facing off against then-US Champion John Cena. Interestingly, Cena's name had been invoked in a preceding NXT discourse that Zayn found utterly perplexing. He shared these sentiments on the podcast WWE After The Bell.

Zayn vividly recalls the ethos disseminated to the NXT stars— a premonition of their imminent future. They were explicitly instructed that if they didn't aspire to emulate the legendary status of John Cena, they had no business being a part of WWE.

NXT Ideology: Be Cena or Leave

Zayn recounted, "Upon my arrival in WWE, specifically during my time at NXT, the dominant ideology was intense. We were encouraged to be furious about our position. The ambition to move forward, to step out onto the road, was greatly emphasized.

We were cautioned to perceive everyone as potentially threatening our professional progress. It was depicted as a survival of the fittest scenario. You had to outshine everyone else to advance. The message was clear: if you're not aiming to be the absolute best, there's no place for you here." He said, "There was a specific comment I remember distinctly, 'If you don't harbor the ambition to become the next John Cena, you have no right to be here.'

This struck me as surreal. Considering a hypothetical room full of a hundred individuals, one might evolve into the next Cena. So, does this imply that the remaining ninety-nine should exist in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, relentlessly striving to embody a virtually unattainable persona? To me, that seems an utterly irrational expectation." Zayn commented on his recent performance in Saudi Arabia in another part of the conversation. However, WWE subsequently edited Zayn's discussion about his previous abstention from competing in the country.

John Cena Sami Zayn Nxt