Sami Zayn defeated Daniel Bryan on Night 1 of WrestleMania 36 on Saturday to retain the Intercontinental Championship.
Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro indirectly factored into the outcome by attacking Drew Gulak outside of the ring, which prompted Bryan to intervene.
Returning his focus to Zayn, Bryan attempted an attack off the top rope. But the champion countered into a modified version of the Helluva Kick for the win.
The duo of Bryan and Gulak have feuded with the triumvirate of Zayn, Nakamura and Cesaro for the past few weeks, and Gulak played a significant role in Bryan earning a title shot on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
After Bryan and Gulak beat Nakamura and Cesaro in a tag team match on SmackDown, Bryan got Zayn to agree to put the title on the line at WrestleMania if Gulak could beat Nakamura in a singles match the following week.
Gulak managed to pull off the upset over The King of Strong Style, which set the stage for the highly anticipated Intercontinental Championship bout.
When Bryan made his return to wrestling two years ago, his first match back was a tag team contest that saw him team with Shane McMahon against Zayn and Kevin Owens at WrestleMania. Two years later, Bryan found himself back in the ring with The Great Liberator under different circumstances.
Bryan faced Kofi Kingston in a WWE Championship match at last year's WrestleMania, so while it can be argued that he took a step down this year, there was still a great deal of excitement surrounding his clash with Zayn.
Although Zayn has developed into an agitating heel, he was often compared to Bryan during his NXT run, which led many to consider Bryan vs. Zayn at WrestleMania a dream match.
While there were no fans in attendance for Saturday's bout because of the coronavirus pandemic, the dream still came true, and fans watching at home were treated to a match between two Superstars with great in-ring chemistry.
Not only did Bryan competing for the IC title put a bigger spotlight on the belt than fans have grown accustomed to recently, but it also helped further establish Zayn as a top heel.
Retaining against Bryan at WrestleMania is perhaps the biggest triumph of Zayn's career, and it lends some hope to the idea that WWE intends to give him a long run with the title in an effort to inject some much-needed equity into it.
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