WWE kicked off their Intercontinental Championship tournament last night on Smackdown Live and at the same time, announced the bracket for the tournament.
The title was vacated this week when WWE stripped incumbent champion Sami Zayn of the belt due to an inability to compete. Whilst not stated on the record, the common belief is that this is due to Zayn exercising his option not to work during the Coronavirus pandemic. That sentence sounds so much less sensational that the deliberately inflammatory ‘refuses to work’ headline doesn’t it?
The tournament kicked off this week with two matches on the blue brand. Elias (complete with new theme music) bested King Corbin in the first of the two single elimination bouts. In the other, Daniel Bryan defeated his training partner Drew Gulak with a sporting handshake following the match.
The first round concludes next week. On one side of the bracket, Sheamus will battle Jeff Hardy with the winner facing Bryan in the semi-finals. On the other side, AJ Styles moves over from Raw (Allowed under the new brand to brand invitational rules) to face his old nemesis, Shinsuke Nakamura for the right to face Elias in the next round.
Elsewhere on Smackdown, the NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair returned to the Fox broadcast to stir the pot between Smackdown Women’s Champion Bayley and Sasha Banks before challenging the former to a champion vs champion match on next week’s show. The Banks/Bayley tease for a feud continues to bubble along nicely.
Speaking of stirring the pot, the show opened with The Miz and John Morrison goading new Mr Money In The Bank, Otis to a tag team match later in the show. Rather than his regular Heavy Machinery partner, Tucker (Supposedly unavailable), Otis teamed with Universal Champion Braun Strowman to defeat the ‘Ho Ho, Hey Hey’ duo. The large, fun duo had some fun with the idea that Otis might be setting up his partner for a cash in.
It was announced that Otis & Mandy Rose will face Dolph Ziggler & Sonya Deville in a mixed tag team match on Smackdown Live next week.