I've been a WWE fan for pretty much my whole life, and without a doubt it's almost a given that most of the World Heavyweight Champions or WWE Champions in the company's history have held the IC title or at least a title like it (United States Title comes to mind even though its roots are in the WCW).
Since its induction in 1979, the WWE's Intercontinental Title was seen and treated as a prestigious award given to the workhorse of the company.
Truly whoever held the title was the man going out every night in front of millions of fans to entertain us, give us the best matches, keep our butts in the seat till the main event matches, and sometimes the IC matches would be the main events, outperforming and outclassing some of the heavyweights who would battle for the WWE or World Heavyweight title.
What happened? Where are the glory days of Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Honky Tonk Man, Ultimate Warrior, Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, British Bulldog, Shawn Michaels, Razor Ramon, Stone Cold, The Rock, Triple H, Benoit, Jericho, Kurt Angle, Edge, RVD, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, or Carlito?
It just seems like recently the guys who have won the prestigious title cant live up to the hype, and that the IC matches have lost the luster of previous generations. The last good IC title match I remember seeing was Chris Jericho vs Jeff Hardy (in which Jericho won giving him his record eighth IC title). I used to remember watching most IC matches at the edge of my seat, in anticipation to see who the company was going to make their next "go to guy."
The IC title is a stepping stone in many rights, but at the same time its also a cherished and respected title which should be treated as such. There hasn't been too many great IC title defenses, and it seems like they will pretty much give the title to anyone nowadays.
Santino Marella is on his second title reign, and he still shows no real wrestling talent, Kofi Kingston as talented and electric as he is in the ring, wasn't in the company long before he won his title from Jericho, it almost seemed a little premature, having no real title defenses before losing it to Marella a few weeks later.
This is all recent activity in the IC ranks, but there have been other mistakes as far as the division is concerned, using the IC title less and less on RAW is a concern, the IC title was established as a workhorse title, one to hone the skills of future Heavyweight champs ands that's kind of hard to do in five minute warm up matches without the title on the line.
When has there been a No. 1 contender race for the IC title recently, or a good rivalry not one made up at the last minute? How about building the title around established second tier wrestlers like Kane or Rey Mysterio rather than wasting the gold on Santino?
Or if you are going to give it to an up and coming star, why not someone who's a little more worth the expense, like Charlie Haas (who's been around, is talented, and with the right push could become the company's next "go to guy", just like Shelton Benjamin) or Lance Cade maybe even Kofi Kingston again later on (after some more air time, and a chance to build some legitimate rivalries that wont fizzle out like the one he had with Shelton).
Hell even D'Lo Brown would be a far greater draw as an IC champ seeing that he has previous experience holding that title.
Another problem that plagues the IC divison is the over-influx of Heavyweight competitors, in other words too many great wrestlers all concerned with the World Heavyweight Title. I mean c'mon you have Jericho, Batista, HBK, JBL, CM Punk, Kane, Mysterio, Randy Orton, and John Cena how about one of those wrestlers taking an interest in the IC title, I mean look at the roster of RAW stars, most of the remaining are jobbers like Santino with no real fan base.
Can the IC title be restore to it's previous glory? Yes, but will it be done that's quite a different question. Until then we are to just going to have to settle for whatever "the higher ups" thinks is good for business.