Known for years as the second most important belt in the WWE/WWF, the Intercontinental Championship has a great, long standing history in the WWF now WWE. In recent years the IC belt has lost it's luster. It doesn't have anywhere near the star-power of it's past champions.
I've heard people say that the IC belt is a "segue" to winning the Heavyweight Championship.
But does winning the IC title lead to Heavyweight Championship gold? Did it in the past? In the first of a three part series looking at the past champions, the history and the importance of this once great title, we'll examine the answers.
In the title's history there have been approximately 60 different IC champs. Out of those 60 only 17 have gone on to win the WWE/WWF Championship. I actually would have thought the number would be greater considering who's won the belt in the past.
The 80's had some of the greatest wrestlers of all-time hold the title. The names include Don Muraco, Tito Santana, Greg Valentine, Ricky Steamboat, and Rick Rude among others.
The number of IC Champs in the 80's that went on to win the WWF Championship....Two!
The "Macho Man" Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior are the only two IC champs from the 80's to go on to win the WWF Championship.
It probably would have been much, much more had it not been for a little known phenomenon called Hulkamania.
The IC strap still had some prestige in the 90's and produced the most WWF/WWE champs in the title's history.
Eight men went on to win WWE/WWF gold. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Diesel, Triple H, The Rock, Steve Austin, Edge and Chris Jericho. While most of the aforementioned wrestlers won the WWE title within the same decade, Edge and Jericho did not win their first WWE Championship until after the year 2000.
This current decade is where most will agree that the IC belt and it's importance has declined.
History was made in 2000 however with the first female IC champ Chyna. Aside from this, being the IC champ hasn't meant much.
The decade did however produce seven WWE Champions. Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Rob Van Dam, Booker T, and Randy Orton.
Though only a small percentage of IC champs actually go on to win WWE gold, a large number of them (over 70%) at least get the opportunity to wrestle for the WWE/WWF Championship in their career.
So it's safe to say that though it may not lead to the ultimate prize, at some point in your career, winning the IC Championship will place you in a high profile, main event match.
But what has happened to the belt? Why has it lost it's prestige?
Well nothing is wrong with the belt itself. The WWE just doesn't seem to value the title as much.
Do you remember any time in the 80's or even the early to mid 90's where the Intercontinental title wasn't defended at a pay-per-view? These days it's no guarantee that you'll see a IC title match at a major or even minor event.
Also, there is no more buildup for Championship matches (that applies to any belt but that's another story). By having a pay-per-view every month sometimes it seems WWE is rushed into making matches.
Lastly, as a fan I hate when a title is just thrown on people. Santino Marella won the IC title the first time he ever appeared on television! Rocky Maivia won within weeks of his WWE debut.
What happened to build up? Earning a championship? Those days are long gone! Don't you like to see the superstar work his way to the top? I know I do!
For those of us who've been fans for a long time, the Intercontinental title will forever be remembered. Mostly because of classic matches and the great wrestlers that have won the belt.
Let's just hope for our sake the WWE wakes up and remembers that too.
Special thanks to comments/articles by Shane, Mina and some of the other comments/articles I've read that inspired me to write this!