Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura def. The Miz

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Miz’s bid for a record-tying ninth reign as Intercontinental Champion ended in disappointment at Clash of Champions, as Shinsuke Nakamura held off an impressive effort from The A-Lister to keep the prize in his unorthodox clutches.

This was great news for Sami Zayn, who has hitched his own wagon to Nakamura’s and proved to be a key component in the Japanese striker’s title retention, in both a moral and literal sense. Zayn began the match by showering The Miz in trash talk — “King of Soft Style” was his go-to insult — and got involved down the stretch as Miz began to creep closer and closer to victory. For the most part, The A-Lister treated Zayn as something of a pest, at least until Zayn distracted the referee moments after Miz had slipped a Kinshasa and dropped Nakamura with the Skull-Crushing Finale.

At that point, Miz finally turned his gaze toward Sami, and no amount of gesturing at his neck brace — the result of a thunderous Chokeslam from The Undertaker on Tuesday —  could save Zayn from Miz. The Awesome One chased Sami around the ring at breakneck speed, but unfortunately, Nakamura was lying in wait, blasting his challenger with a knee to the face that stopped Miz dead in his tracks. The King of Strong Style rolled Miz into the ring, where the challenger was helpless to fend off the match-ending Kinshasa, and the WWE Universe had no choice but to watch Zayn and Nakamura celebrate the win in the ring.

Despite the result, of course, The A-Lister’s fans can take some solace that this is a speed bump. There’s definitely an asterisk attached to this one, and Miz’s ninth Intercontinental Championship reign is a matter of when, not if. But when hasn’t come just yet.