Earlier this week, Sami Zayn was stripped of the Intercontinental title because he decided to do his part in slowing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
A tournament to crown a new champion will begin on Friday’s episode of SmackDown. We don’t have any further details yet, but that’s never stopped us before from trying to figure out who the winner of the tourney might be. That means it’s time to run down a list of some plausible names who are the best choices to go all the way.
For the sake of this exercise, I am going to ignore SmackDown superstars who have not wrestled recently, like Shorty G or Robert Roode, because I don’t expect them to suddenly change course and appear.
I’m also going to rule out Baron Corbin, because his chance of winning is far higher than I would like to acknowledge, and I just can’t deal with that horrible nonsense right now.
It’s quite easy to create a list of better choices than him, so here we go, in no particular order:
Daniel Bryan is the more obvious choice, but he’d be nothing without all the great ball advice that he’s getting from Drew Gulak. Plus, Bryan already had his chance and failed at WrestleMania 36.
Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
Why should we settle for just one champion when we can instead have two men as the new Intercontinental champion? Cesaro & Nakamura have done all the dirty work for Sami Zayn up to this point, so they should be rewarded for it. It’s too hard to pick just one of these totally awesome wrestlers. Cesaro is a real man’s man, but the current title was specifically designed for Nakamura. They would both make for a great champion.
Let’s face it, this guy blows his tag team partner away in what he can do as a singles competitor, and it’s about time we see more of Morrison’s unique skill set in the ring.
Mahal is a long-shot due to being a Raw superstar, but maybe someone on SmackDown will offer him a brand-to-brand invitation. Or maybe he can just invite himself. I’m not really sure how that whole process works. At any rate, Jinder Mahal is bland and boring, but he’s hasn’t wasted six months of my life dressing up as a king and covering main event stars in dog food. That’s good enough for me.
I’m starting to feel bad for this guy. Otis is getting all the luck these days, both in romance and in the ring, while Tucker has become an afterthought. If he doesn’t win something soon, maybe he’ll snap and turn on Otis. I can’t have that happen, so why not placate Tucker with some shiny mid-card gold?
She already has a secure spot on Raw and NXT, and now she’s advertised for SmackDown this week. I’m suspicious, very suspicious.
I think Hardy might be the favorite to go all the way, and I don’t even know if he is in the tournament. Hardy is a super popular babyface who is back after a long time away. What better way to make an impact upon returning than winning a bunch of singles matches and becoming champion? That sounds like the sort of thing a super popular babyface might achieve in WWE.
This rabbit dies all the time, but somehow manages to always return from the dead, making you wonder how long he can hold off his next inevitable demise. If you think about it, that pattern strongly mirrors the fate of the Intercontinental championship. Might as well merge both forces together into one ill-fated unit.
Not Baron Corbin
More than anybody else, I really hope that Not Baron Corbin can find a way to win this tournament. In some ways it feels like an impossible scenario, because Not Baron Corbin always ends up disappointing wrestling fans around the world, but maybe this time Not Baron Corbin will finally prevail. We can only hope.
So that’s my quick list of wrestlers or puppets who I think could become the next Intercontinental champion, or who would make for a better champion than King Corbin.
Let me know who you think will emerge as Sami Zayn’s championship successor.