Pointing to a need for the championship to be actively defended, WWE revealed that a tournament would begin on this week's edition of SmackDown to crown a new Intercontinental Champion.
The circumstances surrounding Zayn's inability to defend the title are certainly unprecedented. Never before has an Intercontinental titleholder been forced to surrender the crown as a result of the effects of a global health pandemic.
However, there have been several occasions in company history where WWE has had to come up with an intriguing way to determine a new Intercontinental Champion. This has typically been due to an injury to a reigning champion.
Having been in existence for over 40 years, the Intercontinental title the promotion's second-oldest title, behind only the WWE Championship. To maintain this legacy, though, WWE has had to get creative at times. Even the first Intercontinental Champion was crowned in a unique fashion.
Here are five times that WWE has determined a new Intercontinental Champion previously.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article belong to the writer and doesn't necessarily represent Sportskeeda's stand.
#5 Fictional Tournament in Rio de Janeiro
The Intercontinental Championship first came into existence in 1979. On September 1 of that year, Pat Patterson - then the WWF North American Heavyweight Champion - was crowned as the first-ever Intercontinental champion.
Claiming that had won the "South American Heavyweight Championship" during a tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Patterson announced himself as the new, unified, Intercontinental Champion.
The problem here is that there was no such tournament in Brazil. Both the tournament - and the South American Heavyweight Championship itself - were entirely made up.
Patterson would lose the title (this time in an actual match) 233 days later. The reign was Patterson's only one as Intercontinental Champion. However, the WWE Hall of Fame member did win both the Hardcore and 24/7 titles decades after retiring as an in-ring performer.
Patterson's initial victory may have been a work of fiction, but the Intercontinental Championship that was created out of it has given us many memorable moments since.