On this week’s episode of WWE SmackDown, Sami Zayn made his return after several months of inactivity. SmackDown opened with the new WWE Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Hardy, issuing an open challenge to anyone other than the previous titleholder, AJ Styles. The challenge was accepted by Shinsuke Nakamura, a former Intercontinental Champion in his own right. Following a competitive bout that saw Nakamura target the knee of Hardy, the current titleholder was able to defeat the “King of Strong Style.”
Post-match, as Hardy made his way back up the ramp, he was confronted by the returning Sami Zayn. He wasn’t alone, however, as he was in possession of his own version of the Intercontinental Championship. Zayn confronted Hardy and both men held their titles in the air. Styles stared them down from the opposite end of the ramp as well. Suddenly, Zayn knocked out Hardy with a Helluva Kick. Backstage, Zayn accused Hardy of “pretending” to be the champion. He also refused to give an explanation for his absence that lasted multiple months. Regardless, it was clear that Zayn regarded himself as the true Intercontinental Champion.
— WWE (@WWE) August 29, 2020
Zayn originally won the Intercontinental Championship this past March. At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Zayn, Nakamura, and Cesaro faced Braun Strowman, the then-Intercontinental Champion, in a 3-on-1 handicap match. The match in question concluded when Zayn pinned Strowman, winning the title in the process. Zayn held the Intercontinental Championship until mid-May, facing the likes of Daniel Bryan along the way. In May, he was officially stripped of the championship following his absence from TV due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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