Due to the fact that this week’s Friday Night SmackDown will air on Christmas Day, WWE taped the show a few days ahead of time. As such, spoilers for the upcoming episode suggest that Big E will be shown defeating Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship, marking his second time to win the title.
As recapped by Ringside News, the two men faced off in a Lumberjack Match to close out the pre-taped episode. With several wrestlers standing outside to prevent anyone from escaping, Zayn was carried back to the ring after he attempted to run off. This allowed Big E to hit his finisher, the Big Ending, and pick up the win over his erstwhile rival. The former New Day member then wrapped up the show by celebrating with some of the lumberjacks, per Figure Four Weekly Online.
According to the latter publication, the lumberjack stipulation came into play because of how Zayn had repeatedly won matches via count-out. These included a non-title contest between Zayn and Big E from earlier this month, where the then-champion spent some time hiding under the ring, leading his rival to chase him. Although Big E tried his best to prevent Zayn from beating the count, the Canadian grappler was able to break free and re-enter at the right moment to get the count-out victory.
After that bout, the two SmackDown superstars continued their feud in the weeks that followed, with Big E pinning Zayn to help his team win an eight-man tag team match during last Sunday’s TLC pre-show. On last week’s edition of Friday Night SmackDown, Big E interrupted Zayn’s “Sami Awards” segment after he unexpectedly bagged the Superstar of the Year award.
As further noted, Big E first held the Intercontinental Championship in November 2013, back when he was still being booked as a singles wrestler. He ended up holding the belt over a seven-month span that lasted until May 2014. Months later, the former college football star joined forces with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to form The New Day, leading to a six-year run where they won several tag team titles. Big E, however, was split from the group during October’s brand draft, formally kicking off his return to singles competition.
Big E’s Intercontinental title victory could also be the first major step in WWE’s reported plans to give him a significant push as a solo star. As reported by The Inquisitr, rumors have suggested that the company wants him to eventually become a main event performer, and there are supposedly some plans to have him transition to a more serious persona from the goofy character he portrayed as one-third of The New Day.