WWE: Wade Barrett and the 20 Worst Intercontinental Champions Ever
The journey of NXT season one winner Wade Barrett added a new chapter when he became the Intercontinental Champion. Since then, the member of The Corre has endured the wrath of Kofi Kingston, whom he took the belt from. Thanks to DQs, Barrett has kept the belt thus far, but has been on the losing end for the most part since winning the championship.
The Corre lost as a group at WrestleMania against the team of Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella and Kofi Kingston, who were all former holders of that belt with the exception of Big Show. Barrett's reign has, up to this point, been very disappointing. While it is still pretty early, Barrett may end up having one of the worst reigns in the more than 30 years of the title's history.
Barrett's reign is the 130th different reign in the history of the belt. Let's try and compare that with other bad reigns with one of the more respected belts in all of wrestling.
Many look at Marc Mero as a man who should have never been Intercontinental Champion. However, history shows that Mero was quite literally the definition of a transitional champion.
After Ahmed Johnson vacated the title following an attack by the debuting Faarooq, a tournament was established to determine a new Intercontinental Champion. In the finals on September 23, 1996, "Wildman" Marc Mero defeated Faarooq to win the championship. Mero was involved in a storyline already where he had essentially taken Sable as his valet, who was previously a valet for another wrestler. This other wrestler defeated Mero four weeks into the reign to have his first Intercontinental title reign.
That guy was Hunter Herst Helmsley, who would later evolve into HHH.
Can you have a list of bad champions without Santino Marella?
Marella is actually a two-time holder of this belt. I couldn't decide which I preferred on the list, so I grouped them together. Marella technically never won either of these championships on his own. The first one was his debut, where he was pulled out of the crowd in Italy and defeated Umaga with all thanks going to Bobby Lashley.
The second reign was at SummerSlam in 2008 when Marella teamed with Beth Phoenix to take on Mickie James and Kofi Kingston. Both the Intercontinental and Women's Championships were on the line in the match with the winning team walking away with both. Phoenix scored the pinfall on Mickie James, which gave Santino the belt once more. Those two reigns combined rank Santino within the top 25 among all those who have held the belt in terms of total days.
John Bradshaw Layfield was the Intercontinental Champion. If you blinked, you probably missed it. JBL defeated CM Punk for the title on an episode of RAW in March 2009. Less than four weeks later, Rey Mysterio took the title away from JBL at WrestleMania 25.
Yes, this was the reign that ended with a squash match at 'Mania and led to JBL retiring right after.
We are now up to Wade Barrett.
Let's keep in mind that the current champ will likely not stay here forever. In fact, if he holds it long enough and defends the belt in the right way, he may even move off of this list entirely. He won the championship after a fantastic finish and thanks to his cronies from The Corre. In Kofi Kingston's rematch, The Corre let a decent title match go until they decided to randomly get a DQ.
Barrett is a heel, and a good one at that. He doesn't need to win clean. However, he needs to actually win. He cannot afford to always get crushed when his title is not on the line.
Before he became John Morrison, Johnny Nitro was a good tag team partner in the team of MNM. Nitro then broke off on his own but kept Melina around as his valet. Nitro was already a former Intercontinental Champion when he faced Jeff Hardy in an October 2006 episode of RAW. In fact, Hardy had taken the belt away from Nitro just five weeks earlier.
This was around the time where Nitro and Melina were tight with Kevin Federline and were in a good place with RAW GM Eric Bischoff. The title shot was granted by Bischoff, but was spoiled by a pretty blatant disqualification by Melina. Bischoff then came out to restart the match as no DQ. It was pretty much the same way that The Rock came out at this past WrestleMania except that Bischoff was not giving anyone a Rock Bottom. Thanks to the second chance, Nitro would win the title. The next week on RAW, Hardy won the belt right back from Nitro.
Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam won the Intercontinental Championship at Backlash when he put his Money in the Bank briefcase on the line against Shelton Benjamin. Just over two weeks later, Van Dam was teamed with WWE Champion John Cena in a 3-on-2 Texas Tornado match against Chris Masters, Benjamin and Triple H. The stipulations said that if either Van Dam or Cena lost, their championship would go to the man that scored the fall.
Essentially, Van Dam had to be worried about three different men winning his belt or Cena's WWE Championship belt. With Van Dam's briefcase, he could pick his champion or let his champion get beat up and cash in. The scenarios were too much for Van Dam and he lost the championship back to Benjamin. Don't feel too bad for Van Dam. He would win his WWE Championship.
It must sound like a sin to put Chris Jericho, a record nine-time winner of this championship, on this list. Even Jericho had some bad and short reigns with this championship. After already holding it twice, Jericho made his WrestleMania debut at WrestleMania 2000 against Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle in a triple threat match with two falls to crown European and Intercontinental Champions. Jericho became European Champion that night, while Benoit won the Intercontinental title.
About four weeks passed and, right after a fantatic match at Backlash between the two, Jericho got the better of Benoit on Smackdown to win his third chance at holding the belt. On the following RAW, Jericho defended against Benoit. Jericho was having a problem with referees so HHH was the guest ref for the match. With Benoit tapping out, HHH was distracted by his wife Stephanie, who had her problems with Jericho as well.
Upset, Jericho stomped on HHH, which angered The Game. Benoit got back up and countered into a Crippler Crossface, which HHH asked to ring the bell. Jericho never tapped out and lost the belt after six days screwjob-style. Uniondale, New York isn't quite Montreal, but still.
Kane won his second IC title after overcoming the odds from the current champion, Chris Jericho. Triple H and Ric Flair, who were in a rivalry with The Big Red Machine in 2002, interfered in the contest. Regardless, Kane won the title and it only added fuel to his rivalry with HHH. The two would face at No Mercy 2002 both as champions. The titles would end up being unified with Kane losing the title to HHH. Hunter took the title and unified it with his World Heavyweight Championship, making the title defunct for nearly seven months until Judgement Day 2003.
Two weeks after Edge won the Intercontinental title in a ladder match, he lost the belt to Test on an episode of RAW. Test was already one half of the tag team champions at the time, so Test held two belts at once with Survivor Series on the horizon.
Edge challenged Test to this match because Test got involved in Edge's match against RVD. Edge could have come into this night as both the Intercontinental and Hardcore champion. 13 days later, Edge and Test would face each other once again. Test would lose as Edge would unify the Intercontinental and United States championships.
Just a week before, Test lost the tag team belts to the Hardy Boyz. Without any gold left, Test's employment was in jeopardy. Test would win the Immunity Battle Royal later on at Survivor Series to keep his job. However, with so many opportunities to hold onto gold, Test had a very disappointing few weeks in 2001.
Triple H was in the middle of his rise into main event status and the tail end of his McMahon-Helmsley Era when he won the Intercontinental title from Chris Jericho in April 2001. Jericho had won the belt in a ladder match at the Royal Rumble that year and had great title defenses at No Way Out and WrestleMania X-Seven.
Once HHH took the title away, he would face his first test in Jeff Hardy. Jeff would have decent match with The Game but it was Hunter putting his hands on referee Tim White, which led to White being knocked out and Jeff's brother, Matt, came to help his brother. A chair shot and a Swanton Bomb later, Jeff left Philadelphia with his first Intercontinental title. Triple H's reign was over in a matter of seven days.
Jeff Hardy's reign once he took it from HHH was no better. For one, HHH putting his hands on Tim White merited a DQ and Triple H retaining. Second of all, Matt Hardy used a chair. If you look at the history of the Hardy Boyz, you will see that Matt Hardy was the one doing all the dirty work for most of those title wins. Not only did Matt help Jeff directly win this belt, but he was often the one scoring the pin in their tag team title victories. I was disappointed in the Jeff vs. Matt storyline for not using that as a selling point.
One week after winning it, HHH wanted a rematch and won the title right back. I always got the feeling that the years of 1999-2002 pretty much used the Intercontinental Championship much like a television title.
The venue was SummerSlam 2000. Eddie Guerrero teamed with his mamacita, Chyna, to take on Val Venis and Trish Stratus in an intergender title match. The person who had the winning fall would walk away with the title. Val had walked in with the title but the only way that he could retain is to beat Eddie. Thanks to intergender tag rules (women fight women, men fight men), Chyna only had to beat Trish Stratus instead of going after the boys. This meant that Val never had to get pinned and that a woman pinning another woman decided an Intercontinental Championship match for the first time ever.
This was not the first time that Chyna held this piece of hardware...
Chris Jericho and Chyna
This title reign is not officially recognized by WWE and I'm not quite sure why.
Three weeks after Chris Jericho won his first Intercontinental title from pinning Chyna, they had a match on RAW for the title, only to end in a double pinfall on the first RAW of the 21st Century. They were deemed co-champions at the time, having to defend the title together. Three weeks into that experiment, Jericho defeated Chyna and Hardcore Holly at Royal Rumble 2000 to become the undisputed champ.
That is not considered an official reign for either Chyna or Jericho. It is recognized as the title being held up for 20 days before Jericho regained it for his second reign.
Back in 1999, when Jeff Jarrett was owning the mid-card and the Intercontinental title, Edge defeated Jarrett at a live event in his hometown of Toronto. The next night, their scheduled title match at Fully Loaded took place in Buffalo, New York, but with Edge as the champion instead of Jarrett. Jarrett won the match, ending Edge's first title reign after 24 hours.
JJ kept losing and gaining his title back in 1999. In fact, between May and October 1999, Jarrett held the title on three separate occasions. While I just mentioned Edge's one day reign, Jarrett would match the title length by losing the belt once again. The night after Fully Loaded, D'Lo Brown would win the title while also having his European Championship on the line.
In the span of four days, Jarrett had held the title twice and lost it twice. Incredible.
Remember Dean Douglas as Intercontinental Champion?
Nobody blames you.
Douglas was given the title, literally, after Shawn Michaels was attacked outside of nightclub in Syracuse, NY six days prior. At In Your House4: Great White North, Douglas took Michaels' spot in his title match against Razor Ramon. Before Douglas could even put the belt around his waist, he had to retain the title against Razor Ramon. An eleven minute match gave Razor Ramon his fourth Intercontinental Championship reign, a then-record.
Speaking of Razor Ramon, his reign prior to this one lands on this list. Yet again, Jeff Jarrett is involved. Razor defeated Jarrett in a ladder match at a live event in Montreal in May 1995. Razor now had his third chance with the belt. Three days later, Jarrett would have his third chance as well, defeating Razor at another live event in Quebec.
Bret Hart was a great Intercontinental Champion in his first go-around with the belt. That's why it is so surprising to find that his 20-week-plus reign was ended in a house show in Springfield, Massachusetts to The Mountie of all people. Just two days later, it would be Roddy Piper's belt after the 1992 Royal Rumble. This was probably done to build toward a Piper/Hart match at WrestleMania VIII, when Hart took back the belt from the Hot Rod.
Which one of these does not belong? Clearly this one.
Keep in mind, people, that this was not a list in order. I'm not saying that Ricky Steamboat is one of the least deserving to have ever held the title. He just happens to be on the list that has no direct order to it.
Steamboat won a classic encounter at WrestleMania III against Randy Savage to have his first and only Intercontinental Championship reign. Savage had held the title for 414 days before that. Steamboat's reign lasted just 65 days. I know that sounds like a lot, especially when most of the other reigns here are just a handful of days. However, Steamboat's reign is sandwiched in between Savage's and the man he lost the title to, The Honky Tonk Man.
The Honky Tonk Man is the longest-reigning IC champion ever, but likely only due to punishment handed down to both men. Savage was punished for outdoing the Hogan/Andre match from that year's WrestleMania, which was why HTM was given the longest reign in history. As for Steamboat, who was likely going to be a long-term champion as well, asked for time off while his wife gave birth fo Richie Steamboat, who is now in FCW.
McMahon forced Steamboat to drop the belt to the Honky Tonk Man because of it. While Steamboat is not a bad champion, he was made into a worse champion than he should have been thanks to backstage politics.
This was the only singles title that Jannetty had in WWE.
While the match he won it on, defeating ex-tag partner Shawn Michaels on an episode of RAW in 1993, was fantastic, his dream as a singles competitor lasted just 20 days. Even though there have been dozens of reigns that have lasted less than this one, he is one of the least believable IC champions. At best, he had his best match with his richest rival in the Heartbreak Kid. This one-hit wonder was over pretty early.