For those who missed it, Sami Zayn made his return to WWE television on the WWE Payback “go-home” episode of Friday Night SmackDown this week.
Zayn, who was the reigning Intercontinental Champion when he first took his hiatus from WWE television when the Coronavirus Pandemic hit, was back with his original I-C strap to confront Jeff Hardy after he retained his newly designed I-C title against Shinsuke Nakamura.
Featured below is a recap from our WWE Friday Night SmackDown results here at eWrestling.com, as well as video footage of the complete return segment that saw Sami Zayn reemerge with his Intercontinental Title.
Intercontinental Championship: Jeff Hardy(c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Jeff’s open challenge has a challenger when we return from break. Shinsuke is already in the ring as AJ joins commentary. AJ spends the match whining about Jeff cheating. Nakamura and Jeff alternate control early on, with Shinsuke taking the lead and controlling the pace. Shinsuke locks in a left arm bar and uses it to jerk the champ to the mat, then twists it, applying pressure.
Michael Cole points out that Jeff is still wearing the brace and AJ whines more about the brace. Cole reminds AJ that if he hadn’t ambushed Jeff Hardy prior to their match, Jeff wouldn’t have needed the brace. As they bicker, Shinsuke tries to work the arm until Jeff escapes and snapmares Nakamura down. Jeff with a leaping elbow drop. Jeff pulls Shinsuke up and yanks his arm, and Irish Whips Shinsuke into the ropes. On the rebound, however, Nakamura goes low and hits a basement dropkick to the injured knee of Hardy! Shinsuke takes control as we see picture-in-picture with Nakamura’s tag team champion, Cesaro.
Cesaro says that he simply stepped out for some champagne and when he returned, Shinsuke was gone and down there fighting. Cesaro says it seems having two belts are in style, and Shinsuke isn’t more driven than Cesaro. Cesaro then signs off by saying, sarcastically, good luck to his partner. Meanwhile in the ring, Shinsuke has maintained control for about two minutes now, wearing down Hardy. Hard breaks free and sends Nakamura into the corner. Hardy is hobbling on his injured leg and attempts to trot/limp/charge the corner and Nakamura stops him. Nakamura sets Hardy up on the apron and attempts to suplex Hardy in but Hardy floats over! Hardy sends Nakamura outside, and they brawl outside as we go to commercial.
We’re back from the break and both men are striking each other. Hardy goes for a Twist of Fate, dropping Shinsuke’s face on that knee brace as AJ freaks out. Hardy goes up top and hits the diving Swanton, then covers Nakamura for the three!
Your Winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion, Jeff Hardy
After the Match
AJ yells at Jeff Hardy as Hardy walks up the ramp. Without warning, Sami Zayn’s music hits and out he comes! He’s got his own Intercontinental Title and holds it up. Jeff and Sami hold their titles up and face each other. Sami’s going on about how he’s the legitimate champion. AJ stands at the base of the ramp and both Sami and Jeff look–and the “Great Liberator” Sami Zayn kicks Jeff in the face. Sami yells that Jeff is a fraud before leaving. Sami’s hair looks longer and he’s definitely embracing a bit more of a guerilla fighter look. AJ and Jeff stare at each other, and AJ yells that he’s going to “take that (title) off of you!” We head to commercial but up next is the Firefly Fun House!
Backstage w/ Sami Zayn
Sami is walking backstage, singing “Oh Happy Day” until Kayla comes up and asks him why he attacked Jeff Hardy. He then rants that he’s here to right wrongs, and Jeff Hardy is a fraudulent champion. He gives the date he won the title, and that he defended it at WrestleMania. Kayla then asks why hasn’t he defended it for the last five months. He says he has many reasons. He speaks French, points out that he’s from Quebec and that he’s a very “intercontinental” champion and walks off.
Check out video footage of Sami Zayn’s return on this week’s WWE Payback “go-home” episode of WWE Friday Night SmackDown below.
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