Thank you all so much for your support/feedback on my series relating to the WWF/E Intercontinental Championship. It’s been a series I’ve wanted to do for a long time, covering the best champions who made this prestigious workhorse title mean so much throughout the decades. Throughout all the ups & downs, there were always gladiators to elevate the IC Title to epic-heights or return it to the Promised Land.
Over the last few months, we’ve ranked the very best Intercontinental Champions from the 2010s, 2000s, 1990s and 1980s (as well as including some VERY honourable mentions). Now it’s time to rank the absolute greatest Intercontinental Champions of ALL TIME. THESE are the title-holders who gave us the greatest matches, the greatest storylines, the greatest memories…the absolute best reigns in history. These wrestlers represented everything an Intercontinental Champion should be.
Please note that unlike previous entries in this series, I will be focusing ONLY on the Top Ten here. There will be no Honourable Mentions here (otherwise, I’d be here all day!)
10. The Ultimate Warrior
Jim Hellwig’s time as the Intercontinental Champion was a statement of total dominance; having made unforgettable history at both the beginning and the end of his tenure, as well as conquering all who stood before him. Warrior first captured the belt by demolishing the Honky Tonk Man in 27 seconds to end the longest-IC-Tile-reign-ever at SummerSlam 1988. Growing in popularity, improving as a wrestler, the Warrior squashed most opposition before embarking on a great feud with Rick Rude, which saw him lose the title at WrestleMania 5, and then win his second Intercontinental Title from the Ravishing One at SummerSlam 1989 in a thrilling match.
And then, after dominating Andre The Giant, the Ultimate Warrior took the Intercontinental Championship to the ultimate level; the Ultimate Challenge at WreslteMania 6, where in front of 67,678 fans in the Toronto Skydome, he defeated the Immortal Hulk Hogan to become the first-and-only man to hold both the WWF World and Intercontinental Titles simultaneously. It was a triumph and match for the ages! One that may never ever be repeated.
Two-reigns, a combined total of 434 days as IC Champ, vacating the championship after winning the WWF Championship? Yep, Jim Hellwig was indeed the ULTIMATE Intercontinental Champion! One whose legacy will always prevail!
09. Mr. Perfect
No one is perfect…unless of course, your name was Curt Hennig. This all-time great simply earned & deserved the moniker of ‘Mr. Perfect’ because of his talent in-and-out of wrestling; successfully scoring strike-after-strike, holes-in-one, no-look three-point basketball shots, running through the pool table, hitting home runs and nailing perfect bulls-eyes…and going on an impressive undefeated streak that ran for two-years!
After the Ultimate Warrior vacated the Intercontinental Championship, Mr. Perfect rebounded from his first-ever-loss; winning an eight-man tournament to claim the IC Title for the first-time by beating former champ/utter legend Tito Santana in the finals. Perfect retained his new title against Tito the following week then held the title for 126 days before he was upset for the gold at SummerSlam 1990 by Texas Tornado (Kerry Von Erich).
Perfect regained the championship from the Tornado on 19.11.1990, then held the title for a magnificent 280 days! The single-longest reign of the 90s! After successfully retaining the Intercontinental Title over-and-over again, Curt’s reign finally came to an end courtesy of Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter at SummerSlam 1991 in one of the all-time classic IC Title Matches. Technically-gifted with flawless timing and athleticism, Curt Hennig was truly one of the greatest ever. Though he may never have reached World-Title Status in WWE, Curt Hennig was indeed the PERFECT Intercontinental Champion.
08. The Miz
After falling back down-to-Earth following his WWE Championship loss in 2011, the Miz won his first Intercontinental Championship in 2012 from Christian and had a solid-run. Then he had a second reign which lasted 24 hours, and a third reign which lasted 24 days, and a fourth reign which (AGAIN!) lasted 24 hours…it wasn’t looking good.
THEN the Miz won the title for a FIFTH TIME in 2016 and he cemented himself as one of the ALL-TIME GREATS to EVER hold the Intercontinental Championship! The Awesome One had long reincarnated as a Hollywood A-Lister, reunited with wife Maryse to form a white-hot heelish duo and proceeded to raise the trophy like it was the single-most-important prize in wrestling! Ending Zack Ryder’s 24-hour reign to much despair, The Miz went-on to defend the belt against the likes of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Cesaro at Extreme Rules in one of the best matches EVER for the title! He had memorable feuds with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns over the strap, and a legendary rivalry with Dolph Ziggler which included the epic Title vs. Career showdown…he constantly defended it on pay-per-view and weekly TV…
OH, YES…and there was that AWESOME promo Miz delivered on Talking Smack against all his haters and Daniel Bryan.
When Miz had finished with the Intercontinental Championship in 2018, he was an EIGHT-TIME CHAMPION; the second-most reigns behind Chris Jericho (who had 9 reigns). Miz’s COMBINED NUMBER OF DAYS as champion was 592! Second only to Pedro Morales’ combined total of 617 days! Miz is easily the best Intercontinental Champion of the 2010s, and it’s because of all the work he did to make the title mean something again…that he’s TRULY AWESOME.
07. Razor Ramon
Hey, Yo! Scott Hall wasn’t a bad guy…he was THE Bad Guy! Oozing and greasing with style, charisma, swagger, attitude and all the talent in the world, Razor Ramon made history on 04.10.1993 when he defeated Rick Martel for the vacant Intercontinental Championship. And Razor went-on to make SO much history with the title.
In the 90s, Razor became the first-ever FOUR-TIME Intercontinental Champion, which is still an impressive accomplishment to this day. Ramon’s accumulated time as champion totalled 434 days! Those achievements are amazing just by themselves…but first-and-foremost, it’s Razor’s feud with fellow Kliq buddy Shawn Michaels that truly cemented him as one of the best ever IC Champs! Two of the greatest matches of all-time were contested for the Intercontinental Championship with Ramon in the thick of it. No one will EVER forget the Bad Guy triumphing over HBK at WrestleMania 10 in the Ladder Match to become the undisputed IC Titleholder. Another (EQUALLY GOOD!) Ladder Match at SummerSlam 1995 will always be remembered as well!
Razor’s feuds with Diesel, Jeff Jarrett and Goldust are another big part of his success with the title. For all of this and more, Razor deserves a high-ranking not just on this list, but on the list for all-time great Intercontinental Champion. Another wrestling legend who is still missed to this day.
06. Shawn Michaels
As we know, the Heartbreak Kid is one of the absolute greatest wrestlers – if not THE greatest wrestler – of all time. Shawn was another legend who used the Intercontinental Title to move-up the card and then achieve success as the WWF Champion. To this day, Michaels’ time as IC Champion is remembered for both being unforgettable in the ring, and controversial at the same time.
Shawn won his first Intercontinental Title from the British Bulldog on the final Saturday Night Main-Event in October 1992, then went-on to challenge Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart for the WWF Championship at Survivor Series 1992! Although that title-shot ended in defeat, HBK remained IC Champ and continued to defend the title against all-comers. He lost the belt to his old-friend Marty Jannetty on 17.05.1993 in what was regarded by many as WWF’s best match of 1993! Shawn would regain the title a few weeks later…and then was suspended for failing a drug-test, and stripped of the championship.
Shawn turned the negative into a positive by returning from suspension with HIS Intercontinental Championship! Claiming he’d never been beaten for it, and thus perfectly setting-up Shawn & Razor Ramon’s Ladder Match Classic at WrestleMania 10. He would officially regain the title from Jeff Jarrett in 1995 and triumph over Razor in an equally-classic Ladder Bout at SummerSlam. Unfortunately, Shawn’s notorious-90s-ego got him into trouble when he was assaulted outside a bar in Syracuse, New York. Thus he had to forfeit the title to Dean Douglas (who lost it to Razor in no-time! That Kliq…). Despite all the infamy, Shawn still remains another legend who made the Intercontinental Belt mean so much.
05. Chris Jericho
After beating Chyna for his first Intercontinental Championship at Armageddon 1999, Chris Jericho brought the championship into the new millennium, and from 2000 to 2009, the man dominated the Noughties overall as IC Titleholder; being involved in so many legendary storylines/feuds and classic matches involving the championship.
Feuding with a who’s-who of wrestling, Jericho battled Chyna, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit, William Regal, Triple H, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Christian, Shelton Benjamin, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio over the Intercontinental Title; continuing to make the title one of the most prestigious in all of wrestling, as well as put over so many new stars/titleholders for the belt. Jericho even has the distinction of co-holding the IC Championship with Chyna in a storyline that worked brilliantly!
Although Jericho’s accumulated total of 311 days as Intercontinental Champion is surpassed by others, Y2J nonetheless still holds the record for most title victories with a staggering NINE IC Championship wins! Not just one of the greatest technical wrestlers/performers who ever lived, Chris Jericho is easily the best Intercontinental Champion of the 2000s.
04. Pedro Morales
One of the most popular wrestlers of all time, this Latino star made so much history throughout his career. Having already been one of the longest-reigning and most successful WWF Champions ever, Pedro Morales won his first Intercontinental Title on 08.12.1980 and thus became the FIRST-EVER Triple Crown Winner in WWF/E History.
After defeating Ken Patera for the IC Title, Morales elevated the belt even further with his victories over Larry Zbyszko, Stan Hansen, Sgt. Slaughter, and Killer Kahn. His feud with Don Muraco (as mentioned previously) was bloody, brutal & legendary, and saw the championship switch between the two fierce rivals. Pedro became the first-ever TWO-TIME IC Champion after beating Muraco in the Texas Death Match, then reigned for an INCREDIBLE 424 DAYS! Morales continued to reign supreme as the Intercontinental Champion in rematches against the Magnificent Muraco (and other opponents), as well as enjoying a VERY heated-rivalry with Greg Valentine. Alas, despite being one of the most successful and revered wrestlers to have ever held the title, Pedro Morales’ time ran out in January 1983 when he lost the title again to his arch-rival Don Muraco.
Pedro Morales reigned for a combined total of 617 days as Intercontinental Champion. It’s a record that may never be broken. Made by a true legend who will not only live on forever in the Hall of Fame, but in the hearts of fans. Pedro Morales was simultaneously one of the greatest World and Intercontinental Champions in WWF/E History. Really, he deserves to be acknowledged as such.
03. The Honky Tonk Man
When the Honky Tonk Man proclaims himself the GREATEST Intercontinental Champion of ALL TIME…he has a MAJOR CLAIM that NO-ONE can match. His one-and-only reign with the IC Title lasted an INCREDIBLE 454 DAYS! The single-longest reign! It’s a record that may never, ever be broken!
Honky’s reign got off to a shocking start when he actually upset Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat to win the championship, and then he proceeded to royally p*** off wrestling fans by retaining his title via disqualification and count-out loss to keep the belt (with plenty of help from Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue!). Steamboat, Billy Jack Haynes, George “The Animal” Steele, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake…even Bruno Sammartino couldn’t take the IC Title from the Honky Tonk Man! Continuing to proclaim himself the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time, Honky Tonk lambasted all previous champions, especially Randy Savage, who turned-face and feuded furiously with the Elvis-impersonator over the belt.
After one year, two months and twenty-seven days…the Honky Tonk Man’s time finally ran out at SummerSlam 1988, where (as mentioned previously) the Ultimate Warrior CRUSHED HIM IN 27 SECONDS for the championship, and the WWE Universe REJOICED! Cool, cocky, bad…and ultimately successful! The Honky Tonk Man maybe the unlikeliest Intercontinental Champion of all time, but for having the single-longest-reign, THAT ALONE merits him a place in the Top Three!
02. Macho Man Randy Savage
What can we say about Randy Savage that hasn’t been said before? A first-rate wrestler, performer, character, superstar and talker, the Macho Man is also regarded by many as the DEFINITIVE Intercontinental Champion. And with the wonderful Miss Elizabeth by his side, Randy Savage’s legacy with-or-without the IC Championship lives on forever.
When Savage won his one-and-only Intercontinental Title, what followed was a MAMMOTH 414 DAY reign of PURE Macho Greatness! Upon defeating Tito Santana in the Boston Garden on 08.02.1986, Randy Savage truly defined everything an Intercontinental Titleholder SHOULD BE; an untouchable artist in the ring, proudly proclaiming the IC Belt as the SINGLE-BIGGEST-PRIZE in all of wrestling, and embarking on first-class title defences. The Macho-Man fought valiantly, tooth & nail or hook & crook, to retain the belt in rivalries with George “The Animal” Steele AND Bruno Sammartino! Randy even defeated then-WWF Champion Hulk Hogan whilst Intercontinental Champion (albeit via count-out)!
And then of course, there were his interviews. Savage’s promos were always funny, hypnotic, far-out and utterly brilliant, but talking-the-talk AS WELL AS walking-the-walk truly cemented the Macho Man as one of the greatest EVER to hold the IC Title. When Savage finally lost the championship to Ricky Steamboat in the timeless-masterpiece at WrestleMania 3, he was now PRIMED & READY for the Big One. And a year-later at WrestleMania 4, Randy Savage became the first-Intercontinental Champion to go on to become WWF World Champion.
Macho Man Randy Savage’s Intercontinental Title reign was simply one for the ages, and as unforgettable as the rest of his career/legacy. Both he and Miss Elizabeth will forever be missed and loved. OOOOOHHHH, YEEEAAAHHHH!!!
01. Bret “Hitman” Hart
After having long-proven himself as a tag-team specialist with Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart as The Hart Foundation, Bret Hart was now primed for singles-competition and immediately set his sights on the Intercontinental Championship in 1991. After chasing Mr. Perfect at live-events, Bret FINALLY bagged the title in Madison Square Garden at SummerSlam. It was the FIRST of THREE all-time classic bouts for the Intercontinental Championship that the Hitman partook in. Arguably the BEST-EVER matches for the IC Title, and for that alone, Bret would rank very high on this list.
But week-after-week, show-after-show, Hart would defend the Intercontinental Championship proudly and valiantly like it was the single-greatest-prize in wrestling. Bret took on all-comers and personified everything a workhorse should be; especially with the Intercontinental Title. After losing the title to the Mountie in January 1992, Bret would regain the championship in ANOTHER timeless classic against Rowdy Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 8! Bret continued to defend the title proudly throughout 1992, including against Shawn Michaels in the first-ever ladder match in WWE! And then the Hitman took the belt all the way to Wembley Stadium – in the main-event of SummerSlam – losing it to the British Bulldog in a match for the ages.
With two unforgettable reigns – totalling 288 days! – Bret Hart made arguably more history with the Intercontinental Championship than any other superstar. And of course, he went on to become one of the greatest WWF Champions of all-time. Not just the greatest IC Champ of the 90s, but for my money the BEST IC Champ there was, is and ever will be!
So…what do YOU think of this list? Agree with the picks? Who were YOUR favourite Intercontinental Champions of ALL TIME? PLEASE DISCUSS! The final chapter of this series will look at the Greatest Intercontinental Championship Matches of All Time. See you all soon!