After more than a month of absence from the weekly shows and events, the official news has arrived: Sami Zayn has been relieved of the intercontinental title, which is now vacant. During the most recent episode of Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Backstage, and through a press release on its official website, Worldwide Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announced that the leader of the Artist Collective is unable to defend his belt and that on the coming Friday, 15th May, a tournament will start in SmackDown to determine the new titleholder.
On its official Twitter account, WWE also posted, "BREAKING: With @SamiZayn unable to defend the #ICTitle, a tournament to crown a new champion will begin THIS FRIDAY on #SmackDown." The participants of this newly-launched tournament have not yet been revealed but it is expected that there will be news about it in the coming days.
This announcement comes after several rumours that Sami Zayn needs time away from the ring for a personal decision brought about by the ongoing pandemic; some of these rumours also report that the now ex-intercontinental champion was at loggerheads with the Stamford company, but this has not been confirmed.
Sami Zayn's intercontinental champion reign began in the Elimination Chamber when he played Braun Strowman in a Handicap Match that saw him accompanied by Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. His last appearance on television dates back to the first evening of WrestleMania 36 when he successfully defended the Intercontinental Championship against Daniel Bryan.