Pedros Morales. Randy Savage. Bret Hart. Curt Hennig. Chris Jericho.
Each of these superstars brought honor and prestige to the rich lineage of the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Since 1979, this title has been the No. 2 championship for the company, with many legends acquiring the belt on their road to being a main event star.
In fact, let's go through the list of world champions that were first IC champions in the WWE:
- Randy Savage, 1986
- The Ultimate Warrior, 1988
- Bret Hart, 1991
- Shawn Michaels, 1992
- Diesel, 1994
- HHH, 1996
- The Rock, 1997
- Steve Austin, 1997
- Edge, 1999
- Chris Jericho, 1999
- Kurt Angle, 2000
- Chris Benoit, 2000
- Eddie Guerrero, 2000
- Jeff Hardy, 2001
- Christian, 2001
- RVD, 2002
- Booker T, 2003
- Randy Orton, 2003
- Dolph Ziggler, 2010
Nineteen names, six of which are WWE Hall of Famers, and nearly all of them are shoo-ins to be future WWE HOF members.
Remember SummerSlam 1992? It was hosted in Wembley Stadium, and the main event pitted Bret Hart against the British Bulldog. To this day, the crowd of over 80,000 spectators account for the largest crowd in SummerSlam history and the third largest in PPV history.
Even WWE.com voted this match the best match in the history of the SummerSlam series, stating, "It was the match that turned SummerSlam into a truly global phenomenon."
The most interesting factor? It was for the Intercontinental Championship.
So with all of that rich history, what happened over the past 10 years?
There is no doubt that WWE has lost interest in making the IC title worth much. Instead, it is mostly used as a prop that gives someone very little street cred. Moreover, nowadays, it has created such a stigma that a superstar is better without having it.
Ask the three previous champions—Miz, Wade Barrett and Kofi Kingston. Holding the title did nothing to boost their careers, and each of them (especially Barrett) were prone to come out of the losing end.
So this brings us to the current champion, Curtis Axel. In a Triple Threat match at WWE Payback on Fathers Day, Axel continued his push as Paul Heyman's new client by defeating Miz and Wade Barrett to capture his first IC title. Nice homage to his dad, Mr. Perfect, as they became the first father/son duo to have the title.
The prestige looking up for the title, right? Wrong.
Since he won the title on June 15, he has defended the title only four times! To further the embarrassment, the last defense was against Chris Jericho on SmackDown. That was July 15—nearly two months ago.
If ever we needed the old school 30-day rule, we sure do need it now.
Don't get me wrong. Curtis Axel is a good WWE talent, and he can put on a good match. This is not necessarily a knock on Axel as it is on the WWE booking staff. Honestly, there is no purpose of having the title if the memories of it being special are locked in a vault that is marked "2003."
You can come up with your theories of how the title can be revived, and I am sure most of them would be better that what we are seeing now. One thing I know for sure—Curtis Axel must drop the title, as he has done absolutely nothing to help its lineage.
Oh, and by the way, what makes matters worse is that he is the IC champ and is scheduled to compete at the Night of Champions PPV, but the title will not be defeated. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.
What are your thoughts of Curtis Axel as Intercontinental Champion? Comment (civilly) below.