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Sami Zayn returns to WWE TV on SmackDown

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Tonight's SmackDown saw Sami Zayn return to WWE television for the first time since WrestleMania 36.

After winning the Intercontinental Championship from AJ Styles last Friday, Jeff Hardy issued an open challenge on SmackDown tonight and retained his title against Shinsuke Nakamura. Styles was on commentary for the match and yelled at Hardy after as Hardy was on the stage. Zayn, who was Intercontinental Champion prior to the title being vacated in May, then returned and confronted Hardy. Zayn claimed that he was the real Intercontinental Champion.

When Styles started to make his way up the ramp, Zayn used the opportunity to lay out Hardy with a Helluva Kick.

Zayn then did a backstage interview where he said Hardy and Styles were both fraudulent champions. When asked where he's been since WrestleMania, Zayn said he had many reasons and didn't need to explain them.

Zayn retained the Intercontinental title against Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 36 but has been off WWE TV since then since making the decision not to appear because of the COVID-19 pandemic. After the IC title was vacated, Styles defeated Bryan in a tournament final in June to become champion.

The finish of last week's Styles vs. Hardy title match played into a show-long storyline where Styles had attacked Hardy earlier in the night. As Styles was going for a Styles Clash in their match, Hardy kicked him in the face with the knee brace he was wearing and then hit a Twist of Fate and the Swanton Bomb to win the title. Styles claimed that the same doctor who gave Hardy the knee brace last week wouldn't clear Styles to compete on SmackDown tonight.