Sami Zayn’s win won’t end Intercontinental title fate
WWE Clash of Champions 2020 featured one of the most unique ladder matches in professional wrestling history when Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Championship after handcuffing Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles to a ladder before grabbing the belts suspended above.
Zayn’s impressive and innovative victory, even though it came in a fantasy match defined by the stunts defying Hardy’s death as expected, continued an unfortunate trend: abuse of the Intercontinental Championship.
For much of its existence since its introduction over 40 years ago, the Intercontinental title has been one of the most coveted titles in all of professional wrestling. Although it has long been considered an “intermediate title”, it has been held by many Hall of Fame members including Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, and it has developed a reputation as a championship “horse. work, ”another phrase for a title that tends to be put around the waists of WWE’s top ring performers.
However, the last time the WWE Intercontinental Championship really meant anything was in 2018 when it was hosted by Seth Rollins, who did his best to make that belt count and be more. than a simple level B consolation prize. Going back a little further in 2016, it was The Miz and Dolph Ziggler who raised this title to heights it had not seen in several years. In 2020, however, the Intercontinental Championship went from its glory days to the main event of hardly any significance in the midcard.
One of the reasons WWE audiences, including SmackDown’s, was so disappointing Over the past several months, the company continues to largely overlook the midcard scene, including its headline photo. Wrestling should be built around competition and compelling storylines, and the Intercontinental title has had very little on either of those things this year. So far in 2020, Styles, Hardy, Zayn, Braun Strowman, and Shinsuke Nakamura have all reigned as IC champion, and on paper it’s an impressive roster that may consist entirely of the future Temple of the fame.
In reality, however, the performance of those reigns was almost comically wrong. Strowman and Zayn’s reigns were completely forgettable as Nakamura’s run with the strap, although it lasted over 200 days, was only memorable for the long stretches in which the former NXT champion was completely gone. from television. Even before Nakamura’s reigns, the IC title was largely forgotten during the reigns of Bobby Lashley, Finn Balor, and Dean Ambrose that one would have to research to remember.
Part of the reason the Intercontinental title just doesn’t mean much anymore is due to lack of effort from the creative team, but it’s also because the belt isn’t what it was supposed to anymore. to be: a springboard for emerging talents. This was perfectly illustrated in Clash of Champions when Styles, Hardy and Zayn, three veteran performers who are all much closer to the end of their careers than the start, battled for the title. The outcome of that match, whatever it was, was never going to do anything for WWE’s long-term future. Rather, it was a way for WWE to continue to focus on the stars of yesteryear, which is a real shame.
Styles recently said he wants to retire while Hardy, although he recently signed a new contract is not at the stage of his career where he needs to win titles. Besides, neither has Zayn, who has missed a lot of action due to injury in recent years and is better served as a manager because he’s so good at the role. SmackDown has a lot of up-and-coming talent, ranging from Chad Gable to Gran Metalik, who should draw more attention to the blue brand but can’t get it if and when the midcard title image, which is meant to be a stepping stone to bigger and better things – is dominated by older stars who don’t need to be there.
While the scale match at Clash of Champions was so good that it will temporarily make fans forget about the problems, the fight cannot mask the real problems that have plagued the image of the Intercontinental Championship for months and continue to prevent new stars to rise. atop WWE.