Earlier this week, Sami Zayn was stripped of his WWE Intercontinental Championship. On last night’s episode of Friday Night SmackDown, an eight-man tournament commenced to crown a new champion. However, this didn’t sit too well with Zayn, who took to Twitter afterward to lash out at the competitors involved.
According to Zayn, he’s still the Intercontinental Champion because he never lost the title in a match. He also said that seven of the participants — Daniel Bryan, Drew Gulak, Elias, King Corbin, AJ Styles, Jeff Hardy and Sheamus — don’t have any standards.
“With the exception of Shinsuke [Nakamura], these men have no self-respect, and it says a lot about them that they were willing to participate in this tournament to begin with.”
Nakamura is Zayn’s ally on WWE television, so it’s unsurprising to learn that he still supports his tag team partner. Zayn also has a tendency to remain in-character when he uses social media, and it’s clear that he’s trying to make the most of the current situation by laying the foundation for a match with the eventual winner.
However, it could be a while before Zayn returns to action and receives an opportunity. The superstar is currently social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, and his absence has reportedly led to him getting some backstage heat from company officials. Roman Reigns has also upset people backstage for doing the same, according to reports.
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) May 16, 2020
Zayn being stripped of the title has been a hotly debated topic in the wrestling community this week. While there’s an argument to be made for champions having to appear on television and defend their titles, WWE has let Brock Lesnar take more time off in the past while he was World Champion. Furthermore, all WWE superstars were given the company’s blessing to take time off when lockdown guidelines came into play.
Hopefully, Zayn won’t be punished in the long-term for deciding to take time off until the pandemic has settled down. The superstar has found championship success hard to come by in WWE throughout the years, and his Intercontinental Championship reign suggested that the company was finally rewarding him for his hard work.
Last night’s show featured two tournament matches. Bryan defeated his tag team partner Gulak, while Elias picked up the victory against Corbin. On next week’s show, Sheamus will face Hardy, and Nakamura will take on Styles. If Nakamura wins the championship, it will be interesting to see how that affects his relationship with Zayn.