WWE: Cody Rhodes Is the Best IC Champion of the Last 10 Years

Robert Aitken@@RobertAitkenBRAnalyst IDecember 23, 2011

Memorize that headline for a moment. Look at it and let the truth sink in.

In the 32-year history of the Intercontinental Championship, there have been 68 different champions and 132 different reigns. In the past decade, there have been 27 different superstars with 50 title reigns.

The title was unified with WCW's United States Championship just over 10 years ago at the 2001 Survivor Series and was combined with the World Heavyweight Championship less than a year later.

Dec. 23 marks the 136th day of Cody Rhodes as Intercontinental champion. Cody is already the 33rd-highest superstar on the list of champions who have held the title for a long time.

On Christmas Day, Cody will tie Diesel's title reign on that list. By the time the Royal Rumble comes along, Rhodes will pass eight more superstars as well, including the legendary Ric Flair and his half brother, Goldust.

Let's focus back on the headline: Cody Rhodes is the greatest Intercontinental champion in the last decade. Let's look at the total days and reigns that superstars have held the Intercontinental Championship. That's from December 2001, when Edge was Intercontinental champion (following the invasion storyline), until now.

Superstar No. of Reigns Length of Reign(s)
Shelton Benjamin 3 reigns 354 days
Jeff Hardy 3 reigns 329 days
Rob Van Dam 6 reigns 211 days
Randy Orton 1 reign 210 days
John Morrison 3 reigns 209 days
Kofi Kingston 3 reigns 192 days
Chris Jericho 5 reigns 183 days
Santino Marella 2 reigns 162 days
Drew McIntyre 1 reign 161 days
Dolph Ziggler 1 reign 160 days
Ric Flair 1 reign 155 days
Cody Rhodes 1 reign 136+ days (active)

Right now, only 11 superstars in last 10 years have held the title for longer than Cody Rhodes. Chris Jericho and Rob Van Dam are among those who have held titles for the longest, as well as Shelton Benjamin and Jeff Hardy—two of the best fighting champions in history.

Remember that Rhodes is only in his first reign with this championship, while all but four of the men above him have held multiple reigns.

Can Rhodes Tie With the Greats?

If Rhodes can hold on to his Intercontinental Championship until Royal Rumble, his reign will be 10 days shy of Chris Jericho's last five reigns combined. Jericho is often considered to be the greatest Intercontinental champion of all-time, mostly due to his record nine title reigns.

Another great, and often talked about, champion is Honky Tonk Man, who has a record reign of 454 days. Rhodes is just 319 days from tying that record. If he can achieve the impossible, Rhodes would tie HTM on the November 5 episode of RAW.

Rhodes is not quite within striking distance of that just yet. Besides, Rhodes will likely move up the ladder before next November. Even now, Rhodes is one of the top heels in WWE.

With Alberto Del Rio and Mark Henry nursing injuries, what are the great heels in WWE right now? Move past Wade Barrett, The Miz and Dolph Ziggler and nothing else comes close to Cody Rhodes. It can even be argued that Rhodes is better than those three.

The Royal Rumble will take place in St. Louis this year and Randy Orton, the hometown boy, will be a big favorite to win the match. There needs to be a major heel who will be the focus of Orton's feud. Will Barrett or Rhodes—who had a feud with Orton first—be the main bad guy looking to knock off The Viper?


An Intercontinental Renaissance

It's hard to not think highly of Rhodes right now. The sky is the limit for Rhodes, who won't even turn 27 until next June. Rhodes is clearly the future of the company and can grab that brass ring tomorrow if he wanted to.

Rhodes has already worked a storyline with Daniel Bryan, the new World Heavyweight champion. A champion vs. champion match between the two in the coming weeks would be quite a sight to see.

What makes Rhodes so great as champion is that he was good without it, but became better while holding it. In fact, from the way that the title was tossed around, Rhodes might have made the IC stronger than the title made him look.

Rhodes was responsible for a return to the classic look of the belt, which appeals to many old-school fans. The classic belt was changed in 1998 while The Rock was Intercontinental champion.

The Intercontinental Championship has gone through a renaissance in recent years. The title shifted in the 1990s and 2000s and became yet another championship that was passed around. The title was a stepping stone to a world title chance.

While many of the recent champions have not claimed a world championship yet, the title has often been a way to show off a shining star before he becomes a big fixture in the program. Eight of the last 13 title changes have given the championship to a superstar for the very first time—including four of the last five and each of the last three.


The Title's Poster Child

Rhodes is not responsible for this shift in the title's intentions, but will likely be the poster child for the newly found prestige of this title.

Can anyone name who the Intercontinental Champion was two years ago? What about one year ago? The answers to those questions are Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler, respectively. This is not to say that either reign was bad. Both were very lengthy, but weren't very memorable.

I can already recall five title defenses by Rhodes in his stint as champion. He defeated a former ally in Ted DiBiase, two former champions in Ezekiel Jackson and John Morrison and Sheamus—a major force in WWE. Rhodes even defended the title in a 10-man battle royal on a live episode of RAW.

When Rhodes is finished being Intercontinental champion, it will be because the title has prestige and it is time for Rhodes to move up in the company.

Rest assured, Cody Rhodes fans, when Rhodes has lost his title for a long time, you'll still remember him as Intercontinental champion. Not only will he have held the title for a long time, but the title itself will actually mean something by then.


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