There’s No Controversy Over Sami Zayn Title Being Stripped
WWE confirmed recent news was that Sami Zayn was having his Intercontinental Championship stripped by and a tournament would begin this Friday on SmackDown to crown a new titleholder.
Because Zayn was choosing not to be at WWE programming because of health concerns, Dave Meltzer recently reported that there was backstage controversy over the decision and that a number of wrestlers were upset WWE was doing this to one of their own.
Our only question is… ‘Why?’
The Title Isn’t A Measure of Reward or Punishment
While some might argue that giving a WWE Superstar a title in WWE reflects a reward for hard work and appreciation, that’s far more often not true than it is an accurate reflection of how WWE determines who gets what belt. Sure, there may be a time that a long-standing employee gets a run (Kofi Kingston comes to mind), but the title is often used to accentuate a storyline or get a Superstar over.
Without Sami Zayn on television, neither of those things can happen.
Zayn was playing a heel who’d won the championship. At home, he’s not really playing any character. For WWE, the title needs to be on television and involved in meaningful angles, not staying around the waist of someone because he’s a good guy who is doing what he thinks is safe.
The two things aren’t remotely related.
Zayn Is Not Being Punished With This Decision
WWE isn’t suspending Sami Zayn. They aren’t docking his pay. WWE isn’t fining him or running his name through the mud. They aren’t ignoring him on television or saying he can’t come back. In fact, they aren’t doing anything to him that would give another WWE Superstar a reason to worry about job security.
The only thing they’re doing is putting the Championship he won back into circulation.
While it’s not always a rule WWE adheres to or is consistent with, the title is to be defended every 30 days. Zayn hasn’t defended his since the weekend of WrestleMania. He’s choosing to stay home, thus he’s not defending the title. By the long-standing rules of WWE programming, that means the title must be vacated.
In fact, Zayn can argue he never lost the championship when he does finally return and he’ll have a ready-to-roll storyline waiting for him that was likely far more entertaining than whatever it was he was going to do.
Imagine Cesaro or Shinsuke Nakamura win? Would that not be an interesting storyline to have Zayn come back and expect one of his guys to just give him the title, only to find out they don’t want to?
Imagine This a Different Way
Let’s pretend for a second Roman Reigns was able to make his WrestleMania match. There was plenty of speculation and reports directly from Goldberg that Reigns almost did. The plan was to have Roman win the title. What if he had won the championship and then left?
If Reigns was the Universal Champion, would we be looking at this differently? Would the expectation be that while Reigns chooses to stay home the title should be on television being defended? Or, would fans simply be ok saying ‘No problem, stay at home as long as you’d like and don’t worry about the belt. Bring it back when you’re ready to.’
How stupid does that sound?
There’s no reason to equate Zayn being stripped of the title to WWE punishing him for choosing to stay home. There’s also no reason to suggest that any current titleholder who goes home with a belt and isn’t on television for over a month should get to keep it.
It’s certainly a stretch to believe that other WWE Superstars are all of a sudden looking at this and thinking this somehow means Zayn is in hot water. His comments on social media actually reflect more the idea that this is all a work and his character is still very much active even though he’s not wrestling. Zayn whines about everything. That’s his character. Why would we expect him not to whine about this?
If Zayn is upset, it likely has nothing to do with the IC Title.