WWE: What Happened to the Intercontinental Title?

Mike ShannonFeatured ColumnistMarch 22, 2011

I touched upon this a little bit back in my Raw review last night, but what the hell has happened to the Intercontinental Championship?

It really wasn't that long ago when winning the Intercontinental belt was a very big deal. Plenty of well-known wrestlers made their leap to the upper card by winning the second-biggest title in the game. Hell, there were times when the matches for the IC title were much better than the world title ones.

Bret Hart, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, HHH and Randy Orton all used the Intercontinental title as a stepping-stone into the main event. Now, it's stuck on mid-carders who aren't even announced as champion!

The last time the Intercontinental title was defended at WrestleMania, it was the 25th edition (JBL vs. Mysterio) and the match lasted 20 seconds.

Before that, it was WrestleMania 18 when Rob Van Dam defeated William Regal with the title on the line. That's almost 10 years since a legitimate match was held at the biggest PPV for the supposed No. 2 belt in the promotion.

Remember the battles for the Intercontinental title years ago? Savage vs. Steamboat, Perfect vs. Hart, HBK vs. Razor, Austin vs. The Rock. Memorable feuds where the title was a major focus and it all paid off with a major match on a PPV.

Hell, the ladder match at WrestleMania X stole the show and revolutionized the industry.

Winning the Intercontinental title used to show that you were going to be the guy next in line to get the push to the main event. The Rock and Steve Austin had a feud for the ages over the belt that had tons of classic moments, my favorite being the "3:16" beeper Stunner.

The problem with this is that the mid-card guys have nothing to fight over now. Sure, the title is still there and is occasionally defended, but it's mostly treated like a prop until the creative team makes it "important" for one match every three months or so.

Without the belt, mid-card guys are forced to wrestle for goofy storyline reasons instead of the much more effective "you have the belt and I want it," which has worked for 60 years.

If you remember, this is not the first time the IC belt was rendered meaningless.  Back in 2003, when WWE was recovering from the Invasion fiasco, they unified the Intercontinental title into HHH's new World Heavyweight title and did away with it.

It was a really stupid idea.

Having 40 wrestlers feuding over one belt on a show does not increase the value of the belt, it decreases the value of the wrestlers. It only increases the gap between the guys the fans perceive as "main event talent" and everyone else.

In theory, the Intercontinental champion should be the No. 2 guy in the promotion, right behind the world champ. Over the last 10 years, that has been anything but the case with very few exceptions.

Quite honestly, you could probably write this exact same article about the tag team titles and provide the same evidence. 

You need more than just a world champion to carry your promotion. During the Attitude Era, it was the company line to say WWE was like a circus—you might not like the trapeze act but you'll love the clown show. Right now, we're only getting the trapeze act, because that's what the promotion focuses itself on.

You want the title to mean something again? Give it to a main event guy and let him run with it for a few months or let an upper mid-carder win it and proclaim that it is his lifelong dream. Show video packages hyping the history of the belt and all the Hall of Famers who have won it.

Let the belt mean something again instead of being treated like a throwaway prop to wear to the ring.

The bottom line is that wrestling fans love a title match. You can run them on Raw and make the episode feel special or you can give the guys 15 minutes on a PPV to have a great match. In the end, the Intercontinental title can really help WWE.

Right now, it's basically useless.