For the first time in close to five months, Sami Zayn surfaced on WWE television, returning to the company on Friday night's edition of SmackDown.
After current Intercontinental champion Jeff Hardy retained the title over Shinsuke Nakamura in an open challenge, Zayn suddenly appeared and confronted the titleholder. When previous champion AJ Styles (who was on commentary for Friday's title match) started heading up the ramp toward the pair, Zayn used that moment to lay Hardy out with the Heluva Kick.
Zayn then gave a backstage interview, where he called both Hardy and Styles "fraudulent champions".
Zayn's last appearance saw him retain the IC title over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 36, which was taped in late March and aired on Saturday, April 4. He had been off WWE television since then, opting to remain away due to the pandemic.
The IC belt was vacated in the month of May, and Styles subsequently won the held-up title in a tournament final over Bryan that aired on June 12. Hardy then won the title from Styles on last week's episode of SmackDown.