Once upon a time, The World Wrestling Entertainment’s
Intercontinental Title was a symbol of excellence. The championship was
created in 1979 when South American Heavyweight Champion Pat Patterson
defeated North American Heavyweight Champion Ted DiBiase to become
Intercontinental Champion. 70 WWE Superstars have held the title. At one
time this was the measuring stick in The WWE for anyone that was on the
verge of possibly competing for The WWE Championship. Now it has
somewhat fallen by the wayside as titles are constantly changing hands
and wrestlers will join The WWE and a month later they are holding The
World Championship. I put this list together based on in-ring ability,
duration as a champion, fan approval or disapproval, charisma, and
skills on the microphone. With that here are my top ten Intercontinental
1. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Randy Savage came
from a wrestling family as his father Angelo Poffo and his brother Lanny
Poffa aka “The Genius” were both wrestlers. The Macho Man won The
Intercontinental Title on February 8,1986 when he defeated Tito Santana
at the famed Boston Garden. Savage’s raspy voice, flamboyant ring
attire, and with the lovely Elizabeth as his valet made him mainstream
in the world of wrestling. Savage took the title to new heights as he
held the belt for 414 days before losing to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
at WrestleMania 3 in what many see as the greatest match in wrestling
history. Besides feuding with Steamboat, Savage also feuded with George
“The Animal” Steele and Bruno Sammartino during his reign. Savage’s
aerial ability was legendary as well. To this day I have yet to see a
wrestler replicate Savage’s move of jumping over the top rope to the
floor while clotheslining his opponent on the top rope. The Macho Man
isn’t in The WWE Hall of Fame and that is a shame, but you can never
hide his ability as the best Intercontinental Champion of all-time, oh
2. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning
Like Randy Savage, Mr.
Perfect was a second generation wrestler as he followed in the footsteps
of his father Larry “The Ax” Henning. Henning came to The WWE in 1988
and after failed challenges in 1989 against WWE Champion Hulk Hogan,
Henning showed that he was worthy of a title. After The Ultimate Warrior
defeated Hogan at Wrestlemania 6 to win The WWE Title, his
Intercontinental Title was rendered vacant. On April 23,1990 Henning
defeated Tito Santana for the vacant Intercontinental Title. Henning
would enjoy two reigns as Intercontinental Champion which was
highlighted by his feud with “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich as the
two split the title between August and November 1990. Perfect lost the
title for good at Summer Slam ’91 to Bret “The Hitman” Hart in what was
viewed by many as the match of the year as you had two technicians in
the ring. Henning’s athleticism was legendary hence the name Mr.
Perfect. There wasn’t a thing that Henning lacked whether it was in
interviews or his athletic ability which is why he could constantly say
that he was “absolutely perfect”.
3. Bret “The Hitman” Hart
many Bret Hart was known as “The Excellence of Execution” and he was
that good on the ring. Hart came from the famed Hart wrestling family in
Canada as he was trained by his legendary father Stu Hart. Hart was a
two-time WWE Tag Team Champion with his brother-in-law Jim “The Anvil”
Neidhardt as they were The Hart Foundation. In 1991 Hart set out on his
own and at Summer Slam ’91 he achieved his first singles title in The
WWE as he defeated Mr. Perfect at Madison Square Garden. Hart held the
title for 144 days before he lost to The Mountie on January 19, 1992 to
The Mountie. Hart once again had his sights on The Intercontinental
Title as he faced his cousin “Rowdy” Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8.
Although he was bleeding from the face during the match, Hart was able
to recapture the title. Hart then lost The Intercontinental Title at
Summer Slam ’92 at Wembley Stadium in London, England to his
brother-in-law The British Bulldog before going on to win The WWE
Championship that fall. Hart never gave those over the top interviews,
but he was indeed a wrestler’s wrestler.
4. Pedro Morales
Pedro Morales was the first man in
WWE history to hold The Intercontinental, Tag Team, and WWE
Championships. Morales was a technician in the ring and he was a
two-time Intercontinental Champion. Morales won his first
Intercontinental Title on December 8,1980 when he defeated Ken Patera.
Morales would go on to feud with Don Muraco. The two men would split the
title until January 22,1983 when Morales was defeated by Muraco to lose
The Intercontinental Title for the final time. During his two runs as
IC Champ, Morales held the title for a combined 619 days which is still a
WWE record for longest combined reign of the title.
“The Hammer” Valentine brought a mean streak along with a technician’s
attitude to The Intercontinental Title. Valentine is the son of
legendary wrestler Johnny Valentine and he wrestled that way as well.
Valentine won the title on September 24,1984 as he defeated Tito Santana
in London, Ontario. Valentine would defend The Intercontinental Title
in the very first WrestleMania as he lost by count-out to The Junk Yard
Dog. Valentine would hold the title for 285 days before he lost the
title on July 6,1985 to Santana.
Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels has always been a lightning rod for
controversy, but there is no disputing his ability as one of the better
Intercontinental Champions. Michaels griited his teeth for years in The
WWE in the tag-team ranks as he and Marty Jannetty were The Rockers.
After The Rockers split in early 1992, Michaels became a singles
wrestler and by October 27,1992 Michaels had defeated The British
Bulldog for his first official title reign in The WWE. The women loved
Michaels, but overall he was a good performer in the ring as he was the
image of the changing wrestling scene of the early 90’s. Michaels would
go on to be a three-time IC Champion.
Honky Tonk Man has always professed to be the greatest Intercontinental
Champion of all-time as he held the title (454 days) longer than any
other champion. After an upset victory over Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
on June 2,1987, The Honky Tonk Man was expected to be a “transition”
champion, but he was over as one of the top villains in The WWE. The
Honky Tonk Man was a cocky heel who was dressed as Elvis Presley and his
manager Jimmy Hart and valet Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel) would sometimes
get involved in his matches. Even with that, once The Honky Tonk Man hit
his opponents with”shake, rattle, and roll” it was time for him to
strut his stuff as the winner.
Rock is another wrestler that comes from a long lineage of wrestling as
his father Rocky Johnson and his grandfather Peter Maivia were
professional wrestlers. After dropping the name Flex Kavana in favor of
Rocky Maivia, The Rock found success in The WWE as he defeated his
longtime rival Hunter Hearst Helmsley on Febraury 13,1997 for his first
title reign. The Rock would lose on April 28 of that same year to Owen
Hart before starting a new reign on December 8,1997 when “Stone Cold”
Steve Austin handed The Rock the title. The Intercontinental
Championship was a symbol of the long feud between The Rock’s Nation of
Domination and Helmsley’s Degeneration-X. Through The Rock’s two runs as
Intercontinental Champion, he held the title for 339 days which is 11th
in WWE history for most days during combined reigns.
from being one of the most hated villains during the early to
mid-1980’s, Don Muraco was also a two-time Intercontinental Champion.
Muraco started his first reign on June 20,1981 when he defeated Pedro
Morales in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Muraco would lose the title to
Morales on November 23 of that year before winning it for a second time
on January 22, 1983 in New York City. Muraco’s second title reign was
highlighted by an epic steel cage match against Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
Muraco won the match, but it is best remembered for Snuka leaping off of
the top of the cage. Muraco’s second title reign lasted for 385 days
before he lost to Tito Santana on February 11,1984 at The Boston Garden.
Muraco’s two title reigns add up to him holding The IC Title for 541
days which is second in WWE history for most days through combined title
Santana was a “student” of wrestling and he was not afraid to mix it up
in the ring as well. Santana was a two-time Intercontinental Champion
as he feuded with Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, and Randy Savage. When
Santana defeated Muraco for his first title reign in 1984, he became the
first Mexican-American champion in WWE History. WWE commentator Jesse
“The Body” referred to Santana as “Chico”, but his fans will always
remember him for his “flying forearm” that was his finishing maneuver.