Sami Zayn is no longer the WWE Intercontinental Champion. On Tuesday the FS1 show WWE Backstage announced Zayn cannot compete, which means he has been stripped of his title. As of now, the Intercontinental Championship is vacant, but a tournament for the title will begin on SmackDown this Friday Night.
"@SamiZayn is unable to compete and defend the Intercontinental Championship, therefore @WWE has declared the title vacant," WWE on FOX wrote on Twitter. "A tournament to crown a new Champion will begin on Friday Night Smackdown on FOX. According to multiple reports, Zayn hasn't been on WWE TV for weeks because of his concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. On April 20, Zayn tweeted that he had his wisdom teeth taken out. The last time he was seen on TV was during the first night of WrestleMania 36, which was taped a few nights it was aired on April 3. In that match, Zayn defeated Daniel Bryant to retain the Intercontinental title.
Before Zayn became Intercontinental Champion, he was Shinsuke Nakamura's manager after taking time off from WWE. In an interview with SteelChair Magazine, Zayn talked about his future in pro wrestling. At the time, Zayn said he enjoyed not wrestling but his career in the ring was far from over.
"I don’t think that’s the long-term vision," he said back in November, as transcribed by Fightful. It's certainly not my long-term vision. That's something I may want to do when I'm done with in-ring competition, obviously, as I still have a lot to give in that regard. However, I do think, just in my limited time doing this, that I've been able to add a lot to the matches that he's performing in, and so I do think there is something to be said about that, as an art form for that role. That managerial role is definitely a missing space in wrestling today, in WWE today. It kind of reminds me just how fun it could be when it’s done right and, again, I don't know if it’s going to end, it's probably not a long-term thing, but for now, it's kind of opened the door enough for me to really make me realize like, 'oh this is something that I could really enjoy down the road when my in-ring days are over,' but I still think I do have a lot to contribute even when my body one day says no more."
Zayn has been with WWE since 2013, he started his WWE career in NXT where he became NXT Champion. Zayn won the Intercontinental title in March when he defeated Braun Strowman. Before joining WWE, Zayn wrestled in the independent circuit under the name El Generico.