Sami Zayn has been stripped of the intercontinental belt by WWE and the title is now declared vacant.
A tournament will be held in the near future to determine a new champion. The competition will begin at the next Friday Night SmackDown.
Official wording from Fox Sports’ WWE Twitter account declared that Zayn was “unable to compete and defend the Intercontinental Championship,” leading to the vacancy.’
The last appearance Zayn had was during the first night of WrestleMania 36, when he won the international title against Daniel Bryan on April 4.
In the beginning of May, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported why Zayn was not on SmackDown’s previous episode:
“The reason Zayn wasn’t on SmackDown this past week with Nakamura and Cesaro is that he made the choice not to come, which everyone was told they had that option to do. He was originally part of the show.”
Meltzer’s comments were in reference to the WWE giving wrestlers the option to sit out in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since mid-March, the WWE has been shooting live from its performance center in Orlando, Florida.
A week later, Meltzer said that Zayn “had still not agreed to return to work at last word.”
On Monday, John Pollock of Post Wresting reported that the state of the intercontinental belt would be decided this week.
The next day, The WWE officially broke the news of their decision. This is their following statement:
“With Sami Zayn currently unable to defend the Intercontinental Championship, it was revealed on WWE Backstage on FS1 that the title has been declared vacant.
“A tournament will begin this Friday night on SmackDown to crown a new champion. Stay with WWE’s digital and social channels for more on this developing story.”
Zayn has been on the main roster for WWE since 2015.