Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe.
Zayn Reportedly Absent Over COVID-19 Concerns
Intercontinental champion Sami Zayn's absence from SmackDown since WrestleMania 36 is reportedly related to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc.com's Marc Middleton), Zayn has concerns regarding COVID-19, which is why he has not appeared on WWE programming since retaining the IC title over Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania last month.
Meltzer noted that Zayn was originally part of the script for last week's SmackDown, but he was written out after he decided not to make the trip to Orlando, Florida.
Raw and SmackDown have been airing from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando with no fans in attendance since March because of the coronavirus. Even WrestleMania was moved from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, to the Performance Center and held in an empty arena aside from wrestlers and other essential personnel.
Zayn leads a stable that also includes Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro known as the Artist Collective. Nakamura and Cesaro haven't been on television much during Zayn's absence either aside from Nakamura losing to Braun Strowman on the first episode of SmackDown after WrestleMania.
Due to his mic skills and irritating character, Zayn is among the best heels in all of WWE, and there is undoubtedly a hole on the blue brand without him.
If Zayn's absence extends for a significant period of time, WWE may also have to make a decision regarding the Intercontinental Championship and whether it should be put up for grabs, much like the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Hardy Talks Match and Feud Ideas vs. Wyatt
WWE is seemingly setting up Jeff Hardy for a big push on SmackDown, and the former WWE champion is hopeful that it leads to an eventual rivalry and match with "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt.
Appearing on After The Bell with Corey Graves (h/t H Jenkins of Ringside News), Hardy discussed some of the ideas he has should he and Wyatt cross paths at some point:
"I'd love to work with 'The Fiend' Bray Wyatt. I've got some crazy cool ideas and Beth [my wife] helped me with this one. I was like, 'What if there was something like the Twilight Zone?'
"Like what if we do something like he beats me and takes me under the ring and all of a sudden I'm in the Fun House and it's like a black and white TV and it's like the Twilight Zone. Then Beth said, 'Oh, what if it was the Flylight Zone? You could be like you're trying to get out of the black and white TV?'
"I'm just excited about crazy creativity like that you can throw out there to see if it sticks and not be afraid to go out there and be open minded and creative."
Jeff's older brother, Matt Hardy, had a program with Wyatt a couple of years ago that resulted in them becoming tag team partners. The storyline didn't really stick, though, and fans were left wanting more from it.
With Matt now in AEW, Jeff may have an opportunity to pick up where he left off and ensure that a Hardy vs. Wyatt rivalry reaches its full potential.
The Fiend and Firefly Funhouse elements have undoubtedly made Wyatt more compelling than ever, and WWE opened the door for limitless possibilities at WrestleMania 36 when he faced John Cena in a Firefly Funhouse Match, which was more like a movie than an actual match.
Hardy would likely be a great fit in that type of environment, and there is no question that most of the WWE fanbase would love to see what both Superstars could do in that landscape.
ROH Cancels All June Events
Ring of Honor announced Friday that it has canceled all of its scheduled events through June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Like most professional sports leagues, ROH has been shut down since March, resulting in the cancellation and postponement of several events. By canceling events through June, it means the June 19 Best in the World pay-per-view that was set to take place in Baltimore will not be held.
ROH noted that the decision to cancel the events was based on "making the health and safety of our fans and personnel the top priority during the COVID-19 crisis."
WWE, AEW and Impact Wrestling have continued to air shows during the coronavirus pandemic, but most smaller companies have been unable to do so, and ROH is no exception.
ROH seemingly had been falling down the pro wrestling pecking order even before COVID-19 as WWE, AEW and even New Japan Pro-Wrestling are firmly ahead of ROH in terms of popularity in the United States.
Being unable to run shows has exacerbated that issue, but if ROH can use its hiatus as an opportunity to refocus and produce a compelling product when it does return, perhaps it can start to swing the pendulum back in its favor.
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