The Intercontinental Championship has the second longest lineage in WWE and for a time was seen as the championship that was defended in the highest quality contests, even athletically above the bombast and bluster of the World Title. Men like Randy Savage, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, and The Miz all brought prestige and heightened notoriety to the championship which in turn proclaimed them second only to the very best in WWE and signaled that whomever held it was on the rise. That was true for a lot of men to hold the gold, but not all.
For some superstars the Intercontinental Championship was a fleeting moment in their careers that ultimately didn’t change their trajectory at all, leaving them to become footnotes in the championship’s history. For some of these guys it’s a miracle there’s photos of them holding the gold, they were champion so briefly and forgettably.
There is an old adage that it is the man who makes the championship rather than the championship who makes the man, and that is certainly true for the following list of WWE competitors. Whether they held it for an insignificantly short amount of time, did nothing notable during their reign, or were unable to leave their mark as a champion in WWE, the following list highlights not only the wrestlers who failed to make the Intercontinental Championship their platform to greater heights, but those who merely held it through circumstance and sheer luck.
What led to these men having forgotten championship reigns and what became of them?
15. Albert – Head Coach, WWE Performance Center
Known under many names in WWE, Albert was one of the mid-level superstars who captured the Intercontinental Championship for a short period during the heights of the Attitude Era. Albert was repping as the muscle of X-Pac’s group X-Factor and managed to snare the Intercontinental gold by beating X-Pac’s old running buddy, Kane. The title win was the first, and eventually only, significant singles title the big-man ever held, his more recent return as Lord Tensai devolving into Sweet-T dancing long before he caught a sniff of any type of gold.
No need to feel bad for the guy behind the piercings, Matt Bloom. He now runs the WWE Performance Center, training the NXT superstars and grooming the next crop of future main eventers. Using his experience from a long tenure in WWE and overseas, Bloom keeps the talent primed for their debuts. You might even catch his likeness in the WWE 2K games, as the trainer early in career mode.
14. Road Dogg – Road Agent
Road Dogg was never the greatest wrestler, but he was an exemplary entertainer. For that reason most people assumed that when he and Badass Billy Gunn went into singles action it would be Billy who captured the prestigious Intercontinental Championship and Road Dogg would be better suited to the brawling Hardcore Division.
For whatever reason the script was flipped and Road Dogg wound up capturing the Intercontinental Championship on Raw the week before WrestleMania XV, only to lose it the week following WrestleMania. Somehow his run was timed just so, in that he managed a WrestleMania Intercontinental Title defense where most who held the gold much prouder and for longer never did. Despite that, the reign is lackluster and odd more than notable, which finds him on this list.
Road Dogg went to work for Impact Wrestling for a stint in the 2000s but as his buddy Triple H consolidated his position within the WWE Road Dogg found his way back and currently is a lead writer and showrunner within WWE. Depending on the week, he is even suggested to be in charge of writing SmackDown Live, so either applaud or blame him depending on your view of that show.
13. Ahmed Johnson – Part Of Ongoing Lawsuit Against WWE
Ahmed Johnson was essentially the Ryback of his day, bursting on to the scene with a tremendous physique and intimidating aura, en route to a quick rise and equally sudden fall within the WWE. He does hold the distinction of being WWE’s first African American Intercontinental Champion, but besides that his reign and career amounted to little else.
Reminiscent of when ultimate Warrior defeated Honky Tonk Man to end his hostoric reign, Ahmed Johnson ousted Goldust from the Intercontinental Championship on his first attempt, setting the stage for fans to expect big things, but it wasn’t to be. After vacating the title due to injuries, Johnson had feuds with Faarooq and his Nation of Domination before eventually leaving in 1998.
After a short WCW stint teaming with Booker T’s brother Stevie Ray, Johnson essentially left wrestling, although he did some training at Booker and Stevie’s wrestling school. Like some others, he recently joined the lawsuit against Vince over concussions and wrestler welfare, so as Johnson admitted in a recent interview he’s foregoing any chance at the Hall Of Fame to litigate against WWE.
12. Lance Storm – Owner Of Storm Wrestling Academy
If I can be serious for a moment, Lance Storm is one of the few superstars to get a fairer shake in WCW than in WWE. Storm at one point held three titles simultaneously, his monotone promo style actually taken advantage of by WCW in having him accentuate that no-nonsense persona. In WWE however, he danced and once had Stone Cold Steve Austin lead a ‘boring’ chant directed at him. Oh, and he held the Intercontinental championship for almost 4 weeks.
Storm left WWE in 2005, wrestling intermittently between training future WWE stars like Tyler Breeze at his Storm Wrestling Academy. He regularly appears on podcasts to give his two cents on recent happenings, his insights offering a fascinating viewpoint and highlighting his impressive knowledge, and also writes a feature column for Fighting Spirit Magazine in Britain. Storm has also been seen in WWE features on the network so the two appear to be fine working together if it’s applicable.
11. Ezekiel Jackson – Wrestling Independently
A new Ahmed Johnson for a new age, Ezekiel Jackson had a little more going for him in WWE. His introduction as a quiet, wise giant next to The Brian Kendrick lent him an aura of mystique which only added to his gargantuan physical presence. Between the ropes he was middling at best though, looking awkward and not backing up the intimidation with athleticism. His best match came when Christian guided him to a good match where Jackson won the ECW Championship before it was immediately retired, giving him that distinction.
Joining Wade Barrett’s new group, The Corre, he had an accelerated Batista role, quickly getting fed up with the group and ousting Barrett of not only his position but his Intercontinental Championship. That would be the last real accomplishment for Jackson once he lost the Championship to Cody Rhodes, pottering around WWE with injuries and losses.
Under the names Rycklon and Big Ryck, Ezekial Jackson has appeared in both Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground since WWE, having much more of a run in the latter but not otherwise making much of his time.
10. Wade Barrett – Actor
This entry is the one that stings the most, because somehow Barrett held the title longer than Chris Jericho’s combined reigns, the 11th most days overall in fact, and yet he had not one memorable moment with the gold and all of his reigns amounted to very little for the man who was once seriously considered a chance at being World Champion.
Between Wade Barrett, Bad News Barrett, and King Barrett he held the Intercontinental Championship five times and you’d be hard pressed to remember any of the matches, stories, or moments from any of the title reigns. Barrett somehow kept all his entertaining promos and moments separate from when he held the gold, perhaps because each time he was champion he was instead used as a guy significant enough to lose to the top tier while never getting to establish anything for himself.
Barrett starred in a couple of WWE produced movies while with the company and is reportedly taking his acting more seriously, appearing sporadically in wrestling in his native UK but more actively pursuing acting now that his WWE run is over.
9. Marc Mero – Motivational Speaker
You may remember Marc Mero, he was the guy Sable was married to before Brock Lesnar. Maybe that’s a bit harsh for the ‘Wildman’ as he was known under Vince, but Mero’s accomplishments in WWE can be summed up in short order. He had a shooting star press before it was commonplace, he innovated the TKO finisher, and had a cup of coffee with the vacated Intercontinental Championship.
Winning the vacated title by defeating Faarooq (Damn!), Mero could have been in for a major upgrade in his stock but it wasn’t to be as his reign was cut short by Hunter Hearst Helmsley. When you lose a prestigious title to someone who at the time was in the WWE doghouse, there’s trouble afoot. Injuries ruined Mero’s chances of using his high-flying to capture the fans interest, and right before the attitude era kicked off he left the company.
Mero continued wrestling after his WWE career before finally retiring in 2006, opening the Marc Mero Body Slam Training Institute as well as being a prolific public speaker and advocate against steroid use. This was based on his own experiences with it during his career. Last year he had successful heart surgery, and he continues his public school speaking today.
8. The Godfather – Operating A Gentlemen’s Club
In the late 90s The Godfather was reliably one of the most loved and enjoyed part of any Raw broadcast. Not for anything he did in the squared circle, but for his bevy of gorgeous ‘Ho’s’ that he brought to the ring with him each week. His catchphrases and fun-loving persona broke him out of the mould he’d been stuck in previously and the fans ate it up every night.
Not surprisingly the reign wasn’t to last long, losing the gold in about 6 weeks and returning to his pimping ways, having plenty of gold aroud his neck to make up for the loss, assuming anyone noticed it. The Godfather went PC after 2000, returned to pimping, and finally semi-retired in 2002.
Since leaving WWE, The Godfather made one-off appearances in smaller promotions and occasional returns to WWE, finally culminating in his Hall Of Fame induction where he got to call for the Ho Train one last time. It may not surprise you that when he’s not wrestling The Godfather is running a Vegas strip club, Cheetah’s.
7. Val Venis – Owner Of “Health For Life”
Val Venis does actually have an interesting note to his second reign as champion, but it has little to do with him personally. Val Venis lost his second Intercontinental Championship in a mixed tag team match to the only female to win the Intercontinental gold, Chyna. Beyond that, Venis’s two reigns did nothing to help him elevate out of his perpetual midcard spot and are among the most forgettable reigns of that era, best illustrated by the fact many thought he only ever held the gold once.
Venis continued in WWE much longer than most realize, only being released after two lengthy injury stints in 2009, long after his peak during the Attitude Era. He went out and wrestled for Impact Wrestling for a short term, but more prolifically in CMLL down in Mexico.
Val Venis now runs a marijuana dispensary “Health for Life” in Mesa, Arizona. He lauds and promotes the healing powers and legalities of cannabinoids, to which many wrestlers, including Rob Van Dam, attribute several positives effects for wrestlers in particular due to their heavy injury tolls.
6. Billy Gunn – Still Wrestling
Whether that was simply too much burden or Gunn never had it in him, his sole Intercontinental Title reign was completely forgettable and well after his prime days of popularity.
If Badass Billy Gunn had gotten the Intercontinental title it could’ve been great, but this version was ‘The One’ Billy Gunn, the cheesy knockoff of the original, and nobody cared.
He had a stint in Impact Wrestling before the duo returned to WWE again as an agent and trainer, although Gunn was recently ousted for testing positive to banned bodybuilding substances after entering a competition WWE had no idea their employee was taking part in. Needless to say, Billy lost his position and hasn’t been seen near WWE since, not unlike any mention of his Intercontinental Championship stint. He’s since returned to the independent circuit, even making a return to New Japan last year.
5. Luke Harper – One half of The Bludgeon Brothers
This reign could have been a jumping off point for Luke Harper, but like so many on this list it was merely a false start and now a forgotten footnote in the championship lineage. Fresh from the dissolution of The Wyatt Family (now one of many times) Harper was set free on his own and quickly offered his services to The Authority, whereupon he was granted an Intercontinental Championship match against champion Dolph Ziggler, which he won. The reign came out of nowhere and subsequently went nowhere as he lost the title back to Ziggler less than a month later and never sniffed it again.
Before too long the Wyatt’s reunited with little rhyme or reason, presumably because WWE realized that they never had a solid plan for one of their more solid workers going solo.
Now for the umpteenth time Harper is back paired with Rowan in The Bludgeon Brothers, and it seems that WWE steadfastly refuses to have anything to do with him holding singles gold under Vince’s banner again.
4. Marty Jannetty – Still Wrestling
Marty Jannetty is not only a forgotten Intercontinental Champion but is synonymous with being the forgotten member of a tag team when the other member goes on to greatness. Despite ample in-ring skills Jannetty’s only reign with the Intercontinental Title was more of an ancillary addition to Shawn Michaels ascension from their team, finishing the rivalry between the two when Jannetty briefly held the gold only to lose it back to Shawn and formally stamp HBK as the superior of the two.
Jannetty struggled around WWE’s midcard between being fired and re-hired a bunch of times for his nightlife shenanigans outside the ring, but his dalliance with the Intercontinental Title pretty much sums up his wrestling career in that it is a footnote and obscure compared to most others.
He’s still wrestling today and he even claims he was offered to star in several adult movies. Jannetty is yet another former WWE wrestler to have signed on with the concussion and welfare class action lawsuit against WWE, so his relationship with the company is surely rocky.
3. Curtis Axel – The Miztourage
Curis Axel is one of only two wrestlers here still competing in WWE, and yet his reign is thoroughly forgotten. That should tell you a fair bit.
When Curtis Axel was repackaged from Michael McGillicuty, paired with Paul Heyman and given two pseudo-victories over Triple H right out of the gate you could be forgiven for thinking WWE was going all in on the son of ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig. When Axel was the surprise winner of the Intercontinental Championship on the 2013 edition of Payback, combining a fortuitous Father’s Day win with gaining the championship most synonymous with his father, you’d be excused for doubling down. But when we saw how Axel was treated during and after the reign, you’d know why your bet was badly placed.
Axel since has been little more than the lowest of the low in WWE, losing consistently for almost half a decade and only having his Intercontinental Championship reign brought up when WWE is looking to shock its audience with continuity. As a lackey in The Miztourage Axel is far better suited, defending a man legitimizing the Intercontinental Championship rather than holding it himself.
2. The Mountie – Operating Jacques Rougeau’s Family Show
Sandwiched between decently successful tag team runs in WWE, Jacques Rougeau became The Mountie. A comically ‘evil’ Canadian mounted police officer sporting a shock stick which he used on his opponents, The Mountie was easily hated by the fans. Even moreso when out of nowhere on a house show he dethroned Bret Hart of all people for his one and only Intercontinental Championship.
The reign was unexpected and short-lived, as The Mountie lost the Intercontinental gold to Rowdy Roddy Piper two days later at the 1992 Royal Rumble when his Shock Stick was countered by Piper’s ‘shock-proof vest’.
After The Mountie persona petered out and his in-ring career came to an end, Rougeau opened a successful gym, and now operates Jacques Rougeau’s Family Show while also being a public speaker for wholesome family values in his native Quebec. He has three sons he would like to see also get a shot in WWE, so we might not have seen the last of the Rougeau family holding WWE gold.
1. Dean Douglas – Wrestler, Part Of Lawsuit Against WWE
Better known to ECW fans and the outside wrestling world as ‘The Franchise’ Shane Douglas, Dean Douglas in WWE was a hapless teacher trying to impart lessons onto the fans and other superstars with minimal success. His instantly forgotten Intercontinental Championship reign illustrates the lack of impact Douglas made in WWE, where it is said the token reign was a contractual condition and this was WWE’s way of getting around it before quickly letting him go.
Awarded the Intercontinental Championship after Shawn Michaels vacated it, Dean beat nobody for the championship and was forced to defend it that same night, coming up short against Razor Ramon. This resulted in him having the shortest and least significant reign the championship ever endured. Douglas soon left WWE.
Still wrestling, promoting shows and now running the Triple Threat podcast, Douglas has worked for almost every promotion in America since the 90s. Douglas is also a part of the ongoing lawsuit several performers have against WWE’s conditions in the 90s over drugs and concussions, so he’s likely persona-non-grata to Vince and Triple H on top of having the least respectable Intercontinental reign of all time.
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