Although WWE is still running shows during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some superstars are unwilling to risk their health and the health of their family by coming to work. The most prominent has been Roman Reigns, who dropped out of WrestleMania and hasn’t appeared on WWE TV since. We initially thought he made that choice because of his history with Leukemia, but he has since said it’s actually because of his newborn twins.
WWE has repeatedly said that nobody who chooses not to come to work during the pandemic will face negative consequences, although someone claiming to be an employee said otherwise in a complaint to local officials, and of course they’ve just been ignoring the existence of Roman Reigns.
Then there’s Sami Zayn. Zayn has long been something of a black sheep in WWE for frankly discussing his progressive political views, and he has also declined to come to work since WrestleMania, because of the pandemic. At Mania he defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the Intercontinental Championship, which he’d won in early March, but now WWE has taken the title off him in absentia.
On last night’s WWE Backstage, it was announced that the IC Title has been vacated because Zayn is “currently unable to defend it.” A new Intercontinental Champion will be crowned in a tournament that begins this Friday on Smackdown. No further details have been revealed about the structure of that tournament, but we’ll know soon enough.
As for Sami Zayn, we don’t know when he’ll be back, but hopefully he’ll at least get a shot against the new IC Title holder to regain the belt that was taken from him.
UPDATE: A few minutes after this article first went up, Sami Zayn made his (at least partially kayfabe) feelings known in a tweet: