In one week, two titles have been vacated by WWE. On Monday Night Raw, Becky Lynch vacated the Raw Women’s Championship due to her pregnancy. Asuka would be handed the championship as the winner of the Women’s Money in the Bank. And last night, it was announced that Sami Zayn will be vacating the Intercontinental Championship due to being “unable to compete.” It was rumored in recent weeks that Zayn would not be returning to television until after the COVID-19 situation. So, WWE had to force the hand and bring back the Intercontinental Championship to television, stripping Zayn of his title and prematurely ending his 65-day reign. On WWE Backstage, they added that a tournament will be had to crown a new champion.
— WWE (@WWE) May 13, 2020
We will explore why this was the right move and the possibilities of who could become the new champion through the tournament on SmackDown.
No Idea Of An End Date, Making This The Right Move
A lot of people were heated when they stripped Zayn of the championship but allowed Andrade to keep his United States Championship after his 30-day suspension. The reason that these two situations are completely different is that there was an end date. No one knows when Zayn and other wrestlers will get to return to the company if they are sitting out for their safety, That concerns most but is an understandable reason to move on from Zayn until he returns. The WWE knew when Andrade would return from his suspension, only furthering the idea that this is not the same situation and both were handled correctly.
I disagree with this decision and no matter what anyone says, I am still undefeated and therefore still the Intercontinental Champion. -SZ https://t.co/SUFsBFeRDB
— Sami Zayn (@SamiZayn) May 13, 2020
However, others are comparing this to the handling of the NXT Cruiserweight Championship. NXT is attempting to crown an interim champion through a unique round-robin tournament. WWE could have very well done the same, but they vacated Zayn instead. That is a difficult look, as when this is all over, Jordan Devlin will still be the champion, and Zayn will be left with nothing. WWE’s main roster has tended to vacate rather than go with the interim, making this is a reasonable decision from the top.
Possible Contenders For Intercontinental Championship
The Intercontinental Championship has long been one of the WWE’s most treasured titles, being a proving point for competitors in the past to show they can be a world champion someday. In recent years, the title has returned to that from but went back to being a simple secondary championship. Certain competitors can return it to form while also winning the title to bolster their careers. Here is a look at some competitors that could walk out of the tournament as the new champion.
“The Celtic Warrior” has done everything that is to be done in the WWE — except winning the Intercontinental Championship. If Sheamus were to win the title, he would join the likes of Edge as one of the ultimate winners in WWE history. As he was making his return to the WWE earlier this year, he made it clear that his goal was to win this title and solidify his legacy. The rebirth of “The Celtic Warrior” has shown the world that he can certainly be a main player again and winning the title would push the idea of that. If he enters the tournament, expect him to be the favorite.
Jeff Hardy is a four-time Intercontinental Champion and would more than likely love to add a fifth to his list of career accolades. Fresh off a return to SmackDown, there seems to be no better time for Hardy to make an impact than in this tournament. Sheamus and Hardy have already been at each other’s throats and the prospect of these two going head-to-head in the tournament, one would think the finals, could be excellent. “The Charismatic Enigma” is on a new career path, with winning championship gold being apart of that new path.
The King of the WWE has won one total championship in his WWE career, not carrying gold since the end of 2017. Eventually one would think WWE pulls the trigger on crowning King Corbin as a champion. This tournament could be the perfect chance has he clearly performs well in the tournament-style matches, winning the King of the Ring in 2019. Money in the Bank was yet another failure for Corbin, meaning some type of success needs to come eventually if he ever wants to be seen as a threat. A win or at the least a good showing could go along way for the king.
Of course, this would be dependant on his current standing with his tag team desires. But, John Morrison should be getting an opportunity for singles gold sooner rather than later and the Intercontinental Championship tournament seems to be the perfect spot. Morrison was a three-time champion in his initial run, meaning he has what it takes to win. He has always been a good overall guy to have in the locker room and this seems to be a situation where he can prove that. It could also lead to a rivalry and possible turn for him, as The Miz would most likely become jealous in time as the Intercontinental Championship is one that Miz has really focused on most of his career. It could be a win-win for SmackDown if Morrison were to win.
Giving the hacker a chance to show himself in a tournament would be an interesting turn of events. And no, there is zero confirmation that it is Mustafa Ali but with it being his logo, it’s difficult to think it wouldn’t be him. Ali has everything a champion needs to contend at a serious level. This seems to be a chance to let him show the world what he can really do and perhaps even crown him as the champion. It could lead to dozens of entertaining battles with others on the roster like Cesaro, Jeff Hardy, John Morrison, and more. He just needs to be given the opportunity to shine. They don’t even need to specify that he is the hacker and possibly pull the reveal at the end of the tourney if they wanted. For Ali, there is no limit to the potential.
Most would agree that this is the obvious choice. Daniel Bryan was seconds away from winning the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania before Sami Zayn snuck his way to a win. Now with a tournament on the horizon, his entry could be a guarantee of a win for the former WWE Champion. Bryan’s entire style fits the tournament-style and he could find his next feud in this tournament as well. Out of all the names listed here, he seems to be the lock for the tournament and among the favorites if so. With the coaching of Drew Gulak almost leading him to multiple wins, he could put it all together to run the tourney and walk out as a two-time Intercontinental Champion.
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