Sami Zayn was notable by his absence in WWE's mammoth 50-man Royal Rumble this past Friday in Saudi Arabia, an omission made all the more obvious by the presence of his best-bud Kevin Owens. When asked about Zayn's no-show at their Jeddah supershow, WWE offered the following cryptic statement:
WWE is committed to embracing individuals from all backgrounds while respecting local customs and cultural differences around the world.
In other words: Zayn was not welcome in Saudi Arabia.
Zayn, born Rami Sebei, is a Muslim of Syrian descent. His parents migrated from Homs to Quebec in the 1970s. The grappler has been outspoken against the armed conflict in his homeland - one which has been perpetuated by the Saudi government over the past six years. The Gulf kingdom has been one of the chief investors in attempting to execute regime change in Syria, believing President Assad must be deposed at all costs. This policy has manifested in the funding of several rebel outfits, including those with Islamist ideologies.
It was initially believed that Sami had himself opted against traveling for the show, but apparently this isn't the case. He was effectively ruled out this past Monday, when he came down with "sickness" on-screen during Monday Night Raw following a beating from Braun Strowman.
Two years ago, Zayn told Al Arabiya sport that, "it's a great source of pride for me to be representing Arabs on such a global platform." The dissonance between this statement and his non-involvement in the Greatest Royal Rumble is curious, to say the least.
Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, old-school adventure games (they're not dead), and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know).
He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.