While the WWE currently has what some may describe as “too many” titles between Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live, one title belt has remained as one of the most prestigious prizes in all of sports entertainment for nearly 40 years. The Intercontinental Championship has passed through many holders and had many different looks, but the title has had the same meaning and importance since Pat Patterson became the first Intercontinental Champion in 1979. The belt is technically seen as a title opportunity for mid carders, but has also proven numerous times over the years to be a launching pad for future WWE Champions.
Obviously, the goal of most wrestlers in WWE is to reach the ultimate pinnacle of the business by reaching the top as WWE Champion, but many pro wrestlers will admit themselves that winning the Intercontinental Championship is considered a major accomplishment that they thrive to have on their championship resumes. This was proven on a recent episode of SmackDown Live, where John “Bradshaw” Layfield, a multiple time former WWE Champion even stated himself that the last title he won in his career was the I.C. Championship and he was extremely proud of that accomplishment, feeling that it filled that void in his career. While most WWE Champions generally move up in their careers through the path of an Intercontinental Title run, there are a select few that were able to reach the top of the mountain without ever capturing the prestigious belt. Let’s take a look at this elite group of WWE Champions to never win the Intercontinental Championship.
15 Sgt. Slaughter
Whether he was portraying a United States hero or an Iraqi sympathizer, Sgt. Slaughter is one of the most recognizable figures in professional wrestling, even to this day. Although he only ever won one major title in WWE, Slaughter was at the top of the game in the very early nineties, winning the WWE championship and going on to headline WrestleMania with some guy named Hulk Hogan. While Slaughter's reign on top only lasted for two months after defeating The Ultimate Warrior at the 1991 Royal Rumble, his anti-American, Iraqi sympathizer gimmick will go down as one of the greatest heel angles of all time. While Slaughter never captured the Intercontinental championship, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004 and was a key part of WWE's success during the Attitude Era, serving as the on-screen Commissioner of WWE for a period of time.
Weighing in at nearly 600 pounds, Yokozuna was one of the physically largest men to ever compete in the WWE. The massive man from Japan was a two-time WWE Champion and even held a competition in the early 1990s challenging fellow superstars to try and body slam his massive frame. The competition was eventually won by Lex Luger, but helped drive Yokozuna back into the main event picture. Along with legendary manager, Mr. Fuji, Yokozuna won the 1993 Royal Rumble match, going on to headline WrestleMania IX in Las Vegas with Bret “The Hitman” Hart. The big man would go on to defeat Hart, before losing the title just a few minutes later to Hulk Hogan on the same night. Despite never winning the Intercontinental title, Yokozuna is regarded as one of the greatest big men in the history of professional wrestling and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012. With the fantastic managing from Mr. Fuji and that devastating Banzai Drop finishing move, Yokozuna will always go down as one of the greatest wrestlers of the 1990s.
13 Alberto Del Rio
During his two tenures as a WWE superstar, Alberto Del Rio made pro wrestling history on a couple of different occasions. On top of being a four-time WWE Champion, Del Rio is the only wrestler in WWE history to ever win the Royal Rumble match and the Money in the Bank ladder match in the same calendar year. Speaking of the Royal Rumble, the 2011 Rumble that Del Rio won? That one was the biggest Royal Rumble in history and the only Rumble match to ever feature 40 participants to compete in the match. Despite being a high mid-carder for most of his career in WWE, Alberto Del Rio was never able to capture the Intercontinental title. While we don’t know for sure what the future might have held for Del Rio during his short lived second tenure in WWE, it’s safe to assume that he was at least likely in the running for a shot at the I.C. title at some point. The guy may have never won the Intercontinental title, but hey, the guy is dating Paige. We’ll give him that one.
12 A.J. Styles
Since debuting in the number three spot in the 2016 Royal Rumble match, AJ Styles has taken over the entire WWE and more specifically the SmackDown Live brand. The self-proclaimed “Face That Runs The Place” has become the hottest commodity in and out of the ring that WWE currently has and doesn’t seem to be slowing down even approaching forty years of age. The Phenomenal One has barely had time to even take a run at the Intercontinental Championship, between some great feuds in 2016 with the likes of Chris Jericho and John Cena, before capturing the WWE Championship just months after debuting in WWE. While there’s a chance we may see an Intercontinental run by the “Champ That Runs The Camp” on SmackDown Live, it likely won’t be for quite a long time, as long as Styles continues to take SmackDown Live to places in the ratings it’s never really seen in a long, long time. Hopefully one day, we will be treated to a phenomenal Intercontinental title run.
Batista is another WWE legend with an insanely impressive resume that doesn't include an Intercontinental Championship run. A six-time WWE champion, four-time Tag Team champion and two-time Royal Rumble winner, The Animal went on to headline two WrestleMania main events in his historic career. Starting off his career as a bodyguard for D'Von Dudley during his Reverend D'Von gimmick, Batista quickly rose to the top of WWE, after a stellar run in the legendary Evolution faction, along with Randy Orton, Ric Flair and Triple H. Evolution was full of gold, with Batista and Flair holding the Tag Team titles for a period of time, while Orton was generally the holder of the Intercontinental Championship and Triple H held the top prize. Batista put himself in the history books when he went on to defeat Triple H for the World Championship at WrestleMania 21. While it seems we have likely seen the end of Batista in WWE and no I.C. title run, you can bet we will see him in the WWE Hall of Fame, sooner than later.
10 Sycho Sid
Whether he was known as “Sycho” Sid, Sid Vicious, or just Sid, this guy was one of the most terrifying and polarizing figures to appear in WWE, WCW and ECW throughout the 80s and 90s. Sid has headlined multiple major WWE and WCW events, including WrestleMania, and is a six-time World Champion. While he spent time in the 1990s in all three major wrestling promotions in America, Sid really only spent time in the main event picture during his run in WWE, creating little time for a run at the Intercontinental Championship. Despite being known as a terrifying figure and for a gruesome leg injury he suffered that will live on YouTube forever, Sid is a legend in the wrestling business, even without a prestigious Intercontinental title run. However, who needs more titles when you’re the “King of the World?”
9 Andre The Giant
Quite possibly the most popular big man in the history of professional wrestling, Andre The Giant was taken from us way too soon. Although he was only a one-time WWE champion and one-time Tag Team champion, Andre was inducted into the first class in the WWE Hall of Fame. Although he never captured the Intercontinental Championship, Andre holds the feat of participating in probably the most famous WrestleMania main event of all time, taking on Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III, in front of 93,000 people at the Pontiac Silverdome, where Hogan ended the giant's undefeated streak by historically body slamming him to the mat. Andre The Giant's legacy still lives on to this day, with an annual battle royal named in his honour taking place every year at WrestleMania, appropriately titled, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
8 Roman Reigns
Love him or hate him, Roman Reigns is still considered the “top dog” and “the guy” in WWE. Despite countless attempts to push Reigns as the company’s top babyface, the WWE Universe has consistently rejected Reigns as the top guy in the company. All of that aside, Roman Reigns is one of the most accomplished and successful superstars in WWE today. Currently holding the United States title, Reigns is a three-time WWE Champion, a former Tag Team Champion, a Royal Rumble winner and a founding member of possibly the most destructive faction WWE has ever seen, The Shield. Despite all of that, Reigns has essentially sky rocketed to the top of the company extremely quickly, much like his former Shield buddy, Seth Rollins. While Reigns has yet to capture the Intercontinental Championship, you can bet that the Top Dog will be battling for it one day when they are put on the same brand, whether that be Raw or SmackDown Live.
7 Bob Backlund
While Bob Backlund is spending most of his time these days making Darren Young “great again” (at least that’s what they think…), Backlund was once a great WWE Champion and rightfully owns a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame. In fact, Backlund owns the second place record for longest WWE Championship reign, only trailing behind the great Bruno Sammartino. Regarded as one of the best in-ring technicians in the history of professional wrestling, Mr. Backlund dominated the WWE during the 80s and even into the 90’ when he returned to the company. Bob Backlund has a pretty good excuse for never winning the Intercontinental title, considering he held the WWE championship during his second reign for an amazing 2,135 days. That’s a long time to carry around the top prize! Obviously, we will never see Mr. Backlund grace the prestigious white title belt, but perhaps making Darren Young great again includes an Intercontinental title run for his young student of the game.
6 Mick Foley
This one is probably the most surprising one from our list, considering Mick Foley was always considered the ultimate underdog and lived in the mid-card of WWE for so many years. Whether he was Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, or just good ol’ Mick Foley, the current General Manager of Monday Night Raw was a champion in basically every other division, but never captured the Intercontinental Championship. Mostly remembered for being thrown off cages, slammed on thumbtacks or put through burning tables, Mick Foley’s most accomplished moment came on an episode of Raw during the Attitude Era, when he shockingly pinned The Rock for the WWE Championship, with a little help from Stone Cold Steve Austin. Given the Hardcore Legend’s tough, slow ride to the top of WWE, it’s a true wonder how Foley never won the I.C. title on his way to the top. However, after a career of cheap pops and hard knocks, Mick Foley is what legends are made of, even without an Intercontinental Championship run. Bang bang, have a nice day!
5 Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins has had one hell of a career in WWE so far. A former WWE Champion and United States Champion, The Architect made history at WrestleMania 31 when he became the first man to cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase at WrestleMania and ultimately win the WWE World Championship. Since dismantling The Shield a few years back, Rollins has held the WWE Heavyweight and United States Championships, but has never won the Intercontinental Championship. Regarded as one of the best in-ring performers in all of WWE today, Rollins basically sky rocketed to the top of the company and essentially “skipped” the process of working the mid-card, going straight to the main event picture. While the Intercontinental title is currently held on the SmackDown Live brand by his old Shield buddy, Dean Ambrose, don’t be surprised to see Rollins take a run at the Intercontinental Championship somewhere down the road. Rollins has a bright future ahead of him which includes multiple title runs and an Intercontinental championship would surely add to The Architect’s growing list of accomplishments.
4 Brock Lesnar
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Brock Lesnar is quite possibly the greatest combat athlete in the world. A former UFC Heavyweight Champion, defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings and four-time WWE Champion, Brock Lesnar is known for much more than just his trophy case. The Beast Incarnate is obviously known for ending The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania, something no man has ever been able to accomplish in over twenty years. The self-proclaimed “Mayor of Suplex City” has surprisingly never won any other titles in WWE, although he has won a King of the Ring and Royal Rumble match, respectively. While you never say never in WWE, the days of Brock Lesnar ever challenging for the Intercontinental Championship are likely behind him, as being one of the biggest stars in the company means he will always be in the main event picture. But hey, we can all imagine Lesnar destroying the WWE as Intercontinental champion when he was known as “the next big thing.”
3 The Undertaker
The Undertaker is undoubtedly one of the most unique and interesting gimmicks of all time in sports entertainment. Unlike most professional wrestlers in WWE, The Deadman is one of very few wrestlers who are not defined by title runs, despite a stellar career for over 25 years. Mostly known for his legendary gimmick, historic matches and “The Streak,” it’s rarely announced during an Undertaker appearance that he’s actually a seven-time World Champion and multiple time holder of basically every title the WWE has ever offered. However, The Undertaker has never won the Intercontinental Championship. Now into his early fifties and winding down to the end of his career, it’s highly unlikely that we ever see Taker challenge for the I.C. belt, as he has basically already solidified himself as quite possibly the greatest performer in the history of the business. A first ballot Hall of Famer in a few years, Undertaker will likely remain among the rare group of former WWE champions to never wear the Intercontinental title.
2 Hulk Hogan
Many may find it extremely surprising that Hulk Hogan has never won the Intercontinental Championship, despite being probably the biggest name in professional wrestling of all time. Although The Hulkster has never donned the historic belt himself, Hogan was a participant in one of the most famous Intercontinental Championship matches of all time. At WrestleMania VI, Hogan faced off with The Ultimate Warrior, putting his WWE Championship on the line, while Warrior put up the Intercontinental Championship for grabs. The match went down in history as one of the greatest WrestleMania moments of all time, with Warrior walking out of Toronto’s SkyDome as a double champion. While rumours have been swirling for months that there may be a slight chance we see Hulk Hogan back in a WWE ring again in the future, the chances of Hogan getting any sort of title run, especially the I.C. title are basically slim to none. Sorry, Hulkamaniacs, no Intercontinental Championship for this guy, brother.
1 John Cena
John Cena has been the face of the WWE for the past 15 years. Coming off a historic debut on SmackDown in 2002 with a faceoff with Kurt Angle, John Cena has basically done it all in WWE. A 15-time World Champion, four-time United States Champion, multiple time Tag Team Champion and Royal Rumble winner, (just to name a few accomplishments), the man once known as The Doctor of Thuganomics has essentially accomplished everything there is to accomplish. Not to mention, becoming a movie and television star outside of WWE, in his own right. However, there are still a couple things that elude John Cena’s career and one of them may not be what you would think. While it’s heavily rumoured that 2017 will be the year that Cena ties and breaks Ric Flair’s record as 16-time World Champion, John Cena has interestingly also never won the Intercontinental Title. In addition to likely becoming a record 17-time World Champion, could the self-proclaimed “My Time Is Now” era include adding the I.C. belt to his already impressive resume for John Cena? We may not be able to see him, but we could see this happening.