The Era of The Intercontinental Championship Part 2
by, 12-03-2011 at 07:40 PM (3203 Views)
REBIRTH OF THE TITLE
Rocky Maivia's calamitous reign was ended by Owen Hart on an edition of Raw in 1997. It was about time that Owen Hart was in possession of the IC belt, he had been a long standing top level performer already. The fall out from his feud with Bret Hart propelled Steve Austin into a feud with his brother Owen and inevitably the intercontinental title scene. After his miraculous title victory, Austin relinquished the title due to injury before shortly winning it back at the 1997 Survivor Series. As the undisputed IC champion Austin was easily the most over person on the roster and was no doubt the future centrepiece.
After battling with The Rock at the DX PPV in 1997 and defeating him, Austin reliquished it to Maivia the next night on Raw after refusing to defend it, cos' Austin just didn't give a Shit. What could easily have been a disregard of a title into wilderness was nothing of the sort. Rocky Maivia's second reign as intercontinental champion turned that character into The Rock.
Rock had high calibre moments in his seond run. Feuding with Shamrock, being last eliminated in the royal rumble, to taking over the Nation of Domination and to being a King of the Ring finalist, Rock was rubbing shoulders with the top of the World Wrestling Federation. Another who had a less than glorious first run with the title was Triple H, formerly known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley. He feuded with the super heel Rocky while he was the charismatic leader of the mega over Degeneration X stable, culminating in the classic intercontinental title standard bearer, the ladder match as SummerSlam 1998. Once again, those in the intercontinental title hunt were destined for greatness.
By the time Ken Shamrock became the intercontinental champion the entire focus of the company was the trials and tribulations of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Luminaries such as Val Venis, Goldust and Road Dogg were propped with the belt at a speedy rate. Jeff Jarrett spent mid 1999 talking himself up as the best intercontinental champion of all time, but competition for him was scarce. He would trade roles with a young lower mid card Edge, D'Lo Brown and would lose to Chyna of all people. A tussle began with Chyna and Jericho which when ended would finally give the belt it's own stage again.
When Jericho took full owenership of the title from Chyna again, the belt would have it's latest run in the limelight. Kurt Angle won the title to much acclaim and would defend in a triangle 2 fall match at Mania 2000 with Jericho and Chris Benoit. Benoit won the fall which decided the IC Title and a pattern of credible champions had emerged. Jericho...Angle...Benoit.
Benoit was an immediate credit to the intecontinental belt in 2000. The fact that Jericho was in a passionate feud with Benoit over the gold made it important again. The two had a great clash at Backlash that was followed a month later at Judgment Day in a submission match, which Benoit won again. After a few changes in the following months which included reigns for Rikishi, Val Venis(again), Chyna(again) Eddie guerrero and "The One" Billy Gunn, business was back in order when Benoit won at Armageddon.
Once again, a feud over the intercontinental title had it's masterpiece in a ladder match. Benoit and Jericho finished their feud at Royal Rumble 2001.
Aside from a few great matches and a few worthy champions since that time, the Intercontinental title underwent a steady decline. There were still great champions who held it with honour like William Regal, Rob Van Dam, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Christian, and further reigns for stalwarts like Jericho and Benoit, but the belt lost a lot of it's lustre when it was retired for Storyline purposes at No Mercy 2002. it would make a comeback but the disregard for the once great belt rankled.
Successive owners like Christian, RVD and Y2J kept the belt in good hands. When Randy Orton won it, it was part of the rise of a shit hot prodigy. He held it for 8 months and made it important again. There has been credible champions since then but no one has been at the level Orton was on during that time.
We have had more future main eventer's and other great feuds and matches between those to hold the title but it is not near enough credibilty wise as previous years. Jeff Hardy had multitple reigns, Jericho and Rey Mysterio had a worthy IC championship feud but Kofi Kingston and Dolph Ziggler have held the title to little fanfare on several occasions.
Currently Cody Rhodes is making a big deal out of the title. He has not defended it often but he has made it look meaningful again. I thought all the Rhodes support was just jumping on the bandwago stuff at first but at the moment he really looks like the real deal. His character makes a deal out of being the Intercontinental Champion.
Hope you all could stay reading till the end, I realise I did ramble a lot, but I went through pretty much everything.