Sami Zayn has opened up about wrestling under his lucha libre-inspired alter-ego El Generico.
Prior to coming to WWE, Zayn was known on the independent scene as El Generico. The masked wrestler spoke in a faux Hispanic accent with somewhat broken English and loved to use the word “Olé” as his trademark chant.
At the time, Zayn was fully committed to the gimmick and took inspiration from famous luchadors like El Santo by going to incredible lengths to keep his real identity a secret. This was challenging because unlike in Mexico where luchadors’ real names are not a matter of public record, Zayn had a much tougher time keeping El Generico’s real identity a secret.
Sami Zayn did whatever he could to keep his real identity a secret while wrestling as El Generico
In an interview with Out of Character, Sami Zayn described how hard he tried to keep any detail of his real face concealed under the mask and how he was lucky that there weren’t that many concerted efforts from fans to learn what he really looked like.
“When I would wear a mask, there were times that the mask was tied too tight. You would see a tiny bit of my hair in the back and when I would see that on screen, it would drive me crazy. It’s almost like if you saw little human fingers sticking out of R2-D2. You’re like, ‘Oh, there’s a little guy there. That’s not a robot!’ It takes you out of it.
When I went into the States, for those first six or seven years, I saw almost no leaks of what my face actually looked like. Also, the fans weren’t seeking it out because it does kill the allure a little bit.”
According to internet scuttlebutt and lore, El Generico left wrestling and returned to Mexico to take care of some orphans around the same time that Sami Zayn first appeared in NXT.