Shinsuke Nakamura beat The Miz at Clash of Champions on Sunday to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Sami Zayn was pivotal in the final outcome.
The Miz had the match won when he hit the Skull Crushing Finale. As he went to make the pin, though, Zayn distracted the referee. The Miz retaliated by chasing Zayn around the ring.
Upon getting back in the ring, he received the Kinshasa running knee from Nakamura.
The two men began feuding when Zayn appeared on Miz TV on Aug. 20. He brought out Nakamura and announced they had entered into a partnership, which led to them attacking Miz.
The A-Lister questioned why a supreme in-ring talent like Nakamura would align himself with Zayn, but that did little to deter The King of Strong Style's desire to join forces with The Critic of the Critics.
Zayn explained he and Nakamura were like-minded people and reminded the WWE Universe of the magic they made in NXT. At NXT TakeOver: Dallas in 2016, The Artist beat Zayn in his debut bout for WWE, and many considered it to be the best match in all of wrestling that year.
While they have enjoyed varying degrees of success since then, both were scuffling before they decided to work together.
Zayn was on a major losing streak, and even though Nakamura beat Finn Balor for the IC title at Extreme Rules in July, he struggled to maintain momentum, as he traded wins and losses with Ali thereafter.
The Miz was focused on avenging his loss to Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 35, but he fell to him again at Money in the Bank in a steel-cage match and hadn't been placed in a concrete storyline since then until the issue with Nakamura and Zayn.
Going after the Intercontinental Championship allowed Miz to refocus, since perhaps no other Superstar in the past decade has done a better job of making that title seem meaningful than him.
The Miz entered Clash of Champions as an eight-time intercontinental titleholder, having enjoyed lengthy reigns in 2016, '17 and '18. During that time, he brought the belt back to relevance with feuds against the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins.
Although the landscape is different now since Miz is a face rather than a heel, he still made it clear during the build to Sunday's pay-per-view that he wanted to do everything possible to put the Intercontinental Championship back on a pedestal.
The Miz fell short in his attempt to become a record-tying nine-time IC winner at Clash of Champions, but since his rivalry with Nakamura is still in its infancy, there may be more opportunities in the future.
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