The Era of The Intercontinental Championship Part 1
by, 12-03-2011 at 07:39 PM (3383 Views)
The Intercontinental Championship was second only to the world championship in the early years of the World Wrestling Federation.
The Maiden years from Pat Patterson's win in Brazil which started off the intercontinental title saw rare changes apart from a few from the same pack. It was possessed by respected veterans such as Pedro Morales (a former WWWF Champion), Don Muraco the original people's champ, Tito Santana and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. All held the title with prestige.
THE ASCENSION OF A PEDIGREE
The next man to enter the record books of the intercontinental championship was "Macho Man" Rady Savage. Under 10 years after the title's introduction, the belt was represented by it's first megastar.
When Randy Savage entered the WWF, he grabbed everyone's attention right away. In the 80's, everybody got their shot at promoting themselves, and if Vince McMahon was good at one thing then, it was promoting gold.
Savage held the intercontinental with distinction and class. He was so adept that he made George "The Animal" Steele a household name.
His rivalry with Ricky Steamboat was legendary, culminating in one of the most memorable matches in wrestling history in front of 93,000 at WrestleMania III. The two put on a clinic that became a staple signature of wrestling style for the years to follow, and barring Hulk Hogan bodyslamming Andre The Giant later in the night had completely stolen the show.
Steamboat's reign was briefer than expected as he lost the title to the Honky Tonk Man. HTM brought a new arrogance to the title.
The Honky Tonk Man's lengthy reign (he has been coined the longest running champion of all time, though I'm not sure of that) was clinically ended by The Ultimate Warrior in a quick squash, and the Intercontinental Championship began to enter a golden era.
MAIN EVENT TITLE
The Ultimate Warrior as intercontinental champion was box office. He was on a frantically upward trajectory and the title became just as important as the WWF Championship after years of solid champions. Rick Rude became arguably the biggest heel in the organisation whilst in the midst of a feud with The Warrior, and was hated as champion until eventually relieved of duties by the continuing phenomenom of the Warrior. Warrior put up the Intercontinental title against Hulk Hogan's WWF Title at WrestleMania 6 in a champion v champion, title v title scenario. Not at one point did the intercontinental title look unimportant at the time.
After he became WWF Champ he forfeited the IC Belt. A tournament was held, and it crowned arguably it's greatest title holder of all, Mr. Perfect.
Mr. Perfect made the Intercontinental Championship seem more important than ever. Curt Hennig's ability to "perfectly" capture this character gave this belt the man it was made for. Mr Perfect was perfect and he knew it, the more the fans itched for him to be beaten he more he retained. He was truly cocky and he loved it. He briefly lost the belt to the Texas Tornado before he reassumed his reign to the chigrin of face loving fans.
Mr Perfect's last time as Intercontinental champ was at SummerSlam 91. This was the match that Bret Hart truly arrived as a singles star and the two real life friends absolutely stole the show at that event, a trend that was seemingly happening at more than it's fair share of televised or PPV shows.
Hart eventually had to relinquish the title to the hated mountie due to injury which gave the opportunity at the only singles federation title for the beyond wrestling famous Roddy Piper. Piper dropped the title back to Bret at mania 8 in another memorably classic match.
THE PEAK YEARS
Bret Hart as the 2 time IC Champion was a huge period in the company. During this reign Bret Hart signalled the importance of the belt as the performer's belt. The prestige he gave to the title was monumental and by the time he put over British Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992 Vince McMahon was in no doubt as to who the future of his company was.
As of now the intercontinental title was the definitive first step on the way to becoming a future WWF Champion. Bulldog was a loved face, but by the time Shawn Michaels won his maiden singles championship the ic belt had its swagger back again, brought to new heights by the unparallelled cockiness of the heartbreak kid. When I was a kid I really hated Shawn Michaels, that's how good he was. Controversy aside, HBK was suited to the title. The second IC Champ v WWF Champ match was at Survivor Series 1992 in the main event. Michael's credibily showed himself a man worthy of competing in the main event. After various events he battled Razor Ramon for the moniker of undisputed intercontinental champion at WrestleMania X in the very first ladder match.
Michaels had previously competed against then intercontinental champion Bret Hart in the first ladder match in June 1992 to a revolutionary match. By WrestleMania X, it became truly revolutionary at the end of the IC title match, coined the first ever ladder match at that time. This completely over shadowed the wwf title scene at that Mania.
Next in line for an IC title reign was Big Daddy Cool Diesel. By the time he received it the belt was rocketuel, with Diesel taken seriously as a singles competitor just by having the belt. Diesel later in the year would rise to be WWF champ.
For the next couple of years, Razor Ramon owned the title. Jeff Jarrett grabbed the belt a few times but it always went back to Razor. At SummerSlam 1995, the main event was once more for the intercontinental title, in a rematch of the industry stopping ladder shenagins fron Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels won this one, and brought himself back into the IC picture.
The curse of Dean Douglas put a nail in the intercontinental belt. He won it and lost it on the same night to Razor Ramon but the whole thing did nothing for the value of the belt. After Ramon's last title reign ended a new breed of IC champion emerged.
Goldust was very over with the crowd but his reign was the start of the devaluing of the belt. Over the past few years Bret Hart became THE MAN, Diesel became main event calibre, Ramon had looked a destined main eventer and Michaels was already ready for the main event. After Goldust though it was held by lower pedigree kind of stars in a lull period for WWF in Marc Mero, Ahmed Johnson, Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Rocky Maivia, the latter two very low of the wwf scale at the time.