World Wrestling Entertainment has a long history of singles titles. The Intercontinental Championship is just one of the belts that has been carried by performers over the decades. That title's status has experienced peaks and valleys since it first made its debut. There were times when it felt as if the Intercontinental Champion was just as important, if not more so, than the wrestler who was holding the World Heavyweight Championship at the time. In certain WWE eras, though, the perception was that the Intercontinental Championship was nothing more than a prop that was simply given to some wrestler just because.
Some of the greatest and/or the most beloved characters to ever work inside of a WWE ring have been Intercontinental Champions. Bret “Hitman” Hart was mostly known as a tag-team performer until he was given an opportunity to carry the Intercontinental Championship for a time. “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon had one of the most famous matches in WWE while battling it out for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania X. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho all have to be mentioned as all-time great wrestlers to have won the title during their legendary WWE careers.
What about those times that may be considered to be the “dark days” of the Intercontinental Championship? It would be easy to understand why even diehard WWE fans would have forgotten about some of the wrestlers who were Intercontinental Champions during those times. Then, there are the performers who have been controversial as members of the WWE roster and then after they have left the company. One of the founding members of the stable D-Generation-X is technically a two-time Intercontinental Champion. Do not hold your breaths waiting for the WWE to publicly celebrate those reigns anytime soon.
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15 Marty Jannetty
The way that the split of tag team “The Rockers” was originally booked, it seemed, on paper, that the plan was for Marty Jannetty to become a hot babyface. Shawn Michaels was to then be the hated heel who eventually put Jannetty over during a match. That is what happened when Michaels dropped the Intercontinental Championship to his former partner in May of 1993. That would be maybe the last time that anybody would think Jannetty was “better” than Michaels. HBK won his championship back less than a month later and he became maybe the best overall worker in the history of the WWE. Jannetty, meanwhile, was never again Intercontinental Champion.
14 Dean Douglas
This one technically counts per the official WWE website and so it gets mentioned in this piece. Douglas was awarded the Intercontinental Championship on October 22nd, 1995 after Shawn Michaels could not defend the title because of an injury. Douglas was named Intercontinental Champion, but he had to immediately defend the belt versus Razor Ramon. It was Ramon and not Douglas who left the ring as the champion, ending Douglas' run with the belt almost as quickly as it began. Who could have guessed, at the time, that Michaels handing over championship belts would become somewhat of a WWE tradition?
13 Marc Mero
Those of you who have gone back and watched 1996 WWE programming via the WWE Network or some other way may now remember that the company gave Marc Mero a decent push after he made the leap from World Championship Wrestling to the WWE. Part of that push was to make him an Intercontinental Champion for roughly one month. The most memorable part of Mero's championship reign was that he dropped the belt to a heel named Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Mero never reclaimed the championship during his time in the WWE. That Helmsley guy, meanwhile, went on to have a decent career.
12 Rocky Maivia
Unless you are a casual WWE fan who was not following the product during the late 1990s, you likely remember that The Rock was Intercontinental Champion. If you are anything like us, though, you may have forgotten that the babyface wrestler known as Rocky Maivia was given a short run with that title. Looking back, it is no wonder that fans turned on the smiling Maivia during what was known as the “Attitude Era.” It is a good thing that the company listened to the fans in this instance. They helped create a man who became wrestling royalty and who then branched out and launched a successful Hollywood career.
11 Road Dogg
Oh, you didn't know? It turns out that we also had forgotten that “Road Dogg” Jesse James was an Intercontinental Champion once during his career. This was hardly one of the best eras in the history of the Intercontinental Championship. The belt changed hands on four occasions in roughly two months. Val Venis, Road Dogg, Goldust and the man who is next on this list were all Intercontinental Champions during that time span. As much as the WWE mistreated titles during the end of the decade, things were even worse over at WCW. That company would be out of business two years after this stretch of Intercontinental Championship switches.
10 The Godfather
Not only was The Godfather an Intercontinental Champion in 1999. He held the belt for over a month before he dropped it to Jeff Jarrett. One reason you may have forgotten that Godfather held the Intercontinental Championship was that he was supposed to lose the belt to Owen Hart at the 1999 Over the Edge pay-per-view. Hart, of course, sadly and tragically passed away at that show when a stunt that was supposed to feature Hart being slowly lowered into the ring went horribly wrong. This would be Godfather's only run with the Intercontinental Championship.
9 D-Lo Brown
Just how great and how underrated was D-Lo Brown during this period of his WWE career? Brown could get himself over on the microphone and he could make fans laugh during promos. He was a gifted in-ring worker who promoted himself over as the “greatest European Champion” in the history of the WWE. Brown also had a short run with the Intercontinental Championship, one that lasted less than a month before Jeff Jarrett reclaimed his crown. If nothing else, Brown at least provided fans with some entertaining work during his time in the WWE. He probably deserved more from the company.
There are likely several things that WWE fans of a certain age remember about Rikishi. You can envision Rikishi dancing before and after matches. Fans associate the big man with the “Too Cool” team. His “Stink Face” move probably comes to mind. Maybe, if you think hard enough, you can hear him saying that he “did it for The Rock.” You may have forgotten, though, that Rikishi was an Intercontinental Champion for about two weeks before the title changed hands. Don't expect the WWE to put a spotlight on Rikishi's run with the belt. He earned it by winning a match over Chris Benoit.
Test defeated Edge for a WWE Championship in a singles match. Yes, the same Test with the theme song that included the word “test” being repeated over and over again. In all fairness to the WWE and to Edge, this was during the dying days of the failed “Invasion” storyline. The company was making all kinds of odd booking decisions in the fall of 2001. Test's run with the Intercontinental Championship lasted all of 13 days until Edge reclaimed the belt. Edge would eventually evolve into the “Rated R Superstar” and a world champion. Test, meanwhile, never again won the Intercontinental Championship.
This is not at all a knock on the Kane character or on Glenn Jacobs the professional wrestler. Kane has been around on WWE television for nearly two decades and certain aspects of his career are going to be forgotten. To be honest about the matter, we actually forgot that Kane has, thus far, held the Intercontinental Championship on two occasions. The last time he held the belt was in the fall of 2002. Now here we are 13 years later and Kane is feuding with Seth Rollins over the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The more things change...
5 Johnny Nitro
Talk about the WWE wasting two unique talents. Shelton Benjamin had held the Intercontinental Championship multiple times when he dropped the title in June of 2006 to a newer character named Johnny Nitro. Nitro would go on to become John Morrison, one of the stars of the re-branded Extreme Championship Wrestling show. Neither Nitro nor Benjamin would receive real opportunities to carry the ball for the WWE past midcard statuses, though, and now neither man works in the company. Imagine, if you will, both Benjamin and Nitro having matches with other members of the NXT roster.
4 Drew McIntyre
Wrestling fans who follow the works of journalists such as Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez are aware that there was a time when the WWE saw Drew McIntyre as a future star of the company. McIntyre was given the Intercontinental Championship during what was hoped to be his ascent up the ranks of the WWE roster. That would instead be the only time that McIntyre would hold the belt. His reign ended after roughly five months. Did the WWE swing and miss in thinking that McIntyre could be a star or did the company fail the performer in this case?
3 Ezekiel Jackson
Ezekiel Jackson is a large man. A very large man. That was about the best thing that Jackson had going for him during his time in the WWE. Jackson was pushed multiple times by the company and he held both the ECW Championship and the Intercontinental Championship. Neither of those runs helped him get all that over among fans at arenas and among viewers who watched WWE programming. Jackson became a forgotten man on the WWE roster following an injury that sidelined him for some time. He and the company parted ways in April of 2014. Jackson remains a one-time Intercontinental Champion.
2 Luke Harper
That Luke Harper makes the list says more about how the WWE has treated the Intercontinental Championship as of late than it is a comment about the wrestler. Harper and Dolph Ziggler traded the belt back-and-forth as if it was a baseball card in the fall of 2014, and Harper's reign as champion did not even last a full month before Ziggler reclaimed the title. This is yet another example of how poorly the WWE has presented The Wyatt Family since it was introduced on an edition of Raw. What could have been a top heel stable is now just a group of guys.
There are certain performers who are purposely “forgotten” by the WWE. Chyna is one of them as of October 2015. Leaping into the world of adult films did not help her as it pertains to having any future relationship with the company. Hitting out at the WWE, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon over the years also did her no favors. Those of you who want to remember Chyna as a two-time Intercontinental Champion can go back and watch her matches via the WWE Network. That is probably the only forum where the company will go out of the way to point out that she ever carried the title.
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