WWE superstar Sami Zayn has officially been stripped of the Intercontinental Championship, with the company announcing a tournament to declare a new champion will kick off this Friday on SmackDown.
News that the Intercontinental Championship had been vacated was broken on WWE Backstage. Per an official announcement from the FS1 show’s Twitter page, “[Sami Zayn] is unable to compete and defend the Intercontinental Championship, therefore [WWE] has declared the title vacant. A tournament to crown a new champion will begin on Friday Night SmackDown on Fox.”
While no official reason for the strap being vacated has been given by WWE, there is speculation that it all comes down to inactivity. The Canadian-born Zayn, real name Rami Sebei, has not been seen on WWE television in over a month, as he has reportedly opted to stay at home and away from the ring amid the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Flanked by Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, Zayn defeated Braun Strowman to win the Intercontinental title early this past March at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view. Zayn successfully defended the belt against Daniel Bryan on the first night of WrestleMania 36 on April 4. However, the former El Generico has not made an appearance on WWE TV since. Several hours prior to the official announcement that his championship had been vacated, Zayn wrote his first tweet since May 4, which simply reads, “Hope everyone is doing okay.”
This marks the second time a WWE championship has been forfeited this week, with WWE Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch giving up her title this past Monday on Raw after announcing her pregnancy. However, rather than being vacated, the Raw Women’s title was awarded to fan-favorite NXT graduate Asuka, who had won the Women’s Money in the Bank match the previous night.
WWE has officially declared Sami Zayn's Intercontinental title vacant and announced a tournament to declare a new champion for SmackDown.