It had to be this way

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Jeff Hardy (c) vs. AJ Styles vs. Sami Zayn (c-ish)

Triple threat ladder match for the Intercontinental championship

When Sami Zayn returned on August 28 holding an Intercontinental championship and claiming he’s still champion, despite Jeff Hardy actually being champion, there was only one way this could be settled: Ladder match.

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It’s the law of the land.

First, a little backstory to how we got here:

Sami Zayn defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the Intercontinental title at WrestleMania but then was no longer on TV. The real world reasoning was he took the company’s blanket offer that talent did not need to come to work during the COVID pandemic if they did not feel safe doing so.

Because he was gone for so long, he was stripped of the title, and SmackDown booked a tournament to crown a new champion. AJ Styles won that tournament.

Jeff Hardy was scheduled to be in the tournament, but a controversial incident in the parking lot led to Elias going on the IR and Jeff Hardy being cuffed for a DUI. Hardy was cleared, and while we never actually got a confession, given they’re never going to return to that story, Sheamus is assumed to be the guy who choreographed it.

Jeff got his revenge against the Celtic Warrior in a bar room brawl and turned his attention to the Intercontinental championship.

He eventually received a title match with AJ Styles, but the day of the bout, when the SmackDown roster was fending off a RETRIBUTION attack, Styles delivered a cheap shot to Hardy’s knee. Jeff wrestled the match, but was a bit hobbled and wearing a knee brace. An inadvertent strike with the knee brace when struggling out of the Styles Clash knocked AJ for a loop and the Charismatic Enigma won the title.

AJ (and his brief lackey Joseph Park) cried foul. But that wasn’t Jeff’s only problem.

Because soon after, Sami Zayn returned brandishing the title he never lost and claiming he is the rightful Intercontinental champion.

Which brings us to the ladder match.

Listen, the ladder match was always going to be the way they went. In fact, they had no choice. If you look at Article X, section 9 of the Kayfabe Code, it reads “Any dispute regarding who is the rightful owner of the Intercontinental championship must be decided in a ladder match. Both championship belts are to be hung above a ladder where the first person who procures them is rightful champion.” (See: Razor v. Michaels)

Now, AJ does not claim to be Intercontinental champion, though he highly disputes the way he lost it. But there’s nothing in the wording that says other people cannot participate in the deciding ladder match. I think any objection to it should be over ruled.

Anyway, the real question regarding AJ is why did Joseph Park suddenly disappear? To quote BET’s Deondre Cole, “What’s up with that?”

Tomorrow night, we should be in for a banger with three very talented wrestlers trying to climb the ladder to claim the true gold. It could easily steal the show.

And I’m sure everyone involved will accept this outcome and there will be no more complaining afterwards.

Jeff Hardy will defend his title against AJ Styles & Sami Zayn in a ladder match tomorrow at Clash of Champions. Keep it here to CagesideSeats.com for all of your Clash of Champions coverage.

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