The WWE Intercontinental Championship is essentially the silver medal of in-ring achievement. It’s the stepping-stone to main event glory. Behind the scenes, the title has been christened the “workhorse belt” by insiders due to its rich history of classic matches. Back in the day, IC title bouts were usually the best match on the card. The action inside the ropes often accentuated the title’s prestige.
The physical belt has taken on various forms over the years. The “attitude era” version that Randy Orton is wearing pictured above is often jeered compared to the “old school” IC title, donned by Razor Ramon, which is one of the coolest looking belts of all-time.
The modern version with the white strap is now held by The Miz, who recently captured the title for the 8th time. The Miz is arguably the most entertaining act in WWE today. In fact, I might have to update my list of the Ten Best IC Champions of All-Time.
Pat Patterson became the inaugural I.C. champion on September 1, 1979, when he won a tournament in Rio de Janeiro…even though the tournament is entirely fictional. I don’t mean as in “fake” like wrestling is. I mean, it never actually happened.
Other interesting IC title facts: Honky Tonk Man holds the record as the longest reigning champion at 454 days. Chris Jericho holds the record for most reigns with nine and 79 people have held the Intercontinental title throughout its 37-year history.
So why am I gushing over this prestigious title? Because I finally bought a replica of the IC title due to a well-timed 30 % off sale. To celebrate this most excellent purchase, I’ve devised a list of my ten favorite intercontinental title matches.
-Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat – WrestleMania 3: Consider by many old-school fans as the greatest match of all-time. Steamboat and Savage might not have sold the show, but they stole it in grand fashion. Notebook script and all.
-Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan – WrestleMania 6: This winner takes all match had nine-year-old me on the edge of my seat. I so badly wanted Hogan to win the Warrior’s IC title. Instead, the Warrior won Hogan’s WWF Championship.
-Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect – SummerSlam 1991: This match made me value the in-ring aspect of professional wrestling. Hart’s technical expertise was the “perfect” foil for the egotistical champion. Perfect worked the match with an injured back, making Hart into a star.
-Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog – SummerSlam 1992: Have you ever experienced utter euphoria after witnessing something so spectacular? The brothers-in-law put on a classic in front of what was the largest audience in WWE history. What made it more impressive is that it was the main event featuring two babyfaces. This match made Bret Hart my all-time favorite wrestler.
-Bret Hart vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper – WrestleMania 8: The wrestler took on the brawler in a drama-filled affair that exquisitely highlighted the strengths of both men. Piper lost clean to Hart, which is something he didn’t do for anyone, including Hogan.
-Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – SummerSlam 1995: Their first Ladder Match is legendary but I like the sequel even more. Razor was the aggressor this time, giving Michaels a staggering uphill climb.
-Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2001: Jericho and Benoit took the Ladder Match to new heights by putting on a thrilling combination of wrestling and ladder oriented mayhem.
-Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam – Raw 5/27/02: Ladders and IC title matches go together like peanut butter and jelly. This one was no exception with great technical and high-flying action.
-Randy Orton vs. Cactus Jack – Backlash 2004: This match was all about Cactus finally beating some respect into the young upstart. This blood-filled hardcore encounter made Orton a star as he took the most important bump of his career on an ocean of thumbtacks.
-Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz: – No Mercy 2016: This title vs. career match flawlessly delivered. Ziggler showed he wasn’t as irrelevant as people pegged him to be while The Miz finally had the career-defining match that he’d been missing.