The Intercontinental Championship and United States Championship are both extremely valuable mid-card titles that have been held by most of the top WWE stars. WWE introduced the Intercontinental Championship back in 1979 and it has been the top mid-card title since then. The United States Championship moved from WCW to WWE in 2003, where it has been similarly valuable for the last sixteen years.
Many of the all-time great WWE stars had Intercontinental Championship reigns that added to their legacy, like the iconic Steve Austin, Bret Hart and Chris Jericho. The same could be said for the United States Championship, with names like John Cena, Eddie Guerrero and AJ Styles having relevant reigns. We will look at the surprising names that didn’t win those titles, despite holding the top prize.
10 Didn’t win Intercontinental title: The Undertaker
The Intercontinental Championship was relevant throughout the entire career of The Undertaker. Most rising stars won the belt at least once to gain momentum, but Undertaker was treated like a top-level star from the debut of his character in WWE.
The company essentially felt like Undertaker was too big for the Intercontinental Championship. Undertaker never was involved in the mid-card title picture (aside from winning the Hardcore Championship for a short stint during his feud with Rob Van Dam), so never won the IC Title.
9 Didn’t win US title: Triple H
The United States Championship was won by quite a few top tier superstars in WWE after 2003. Triple H has been known for dominating almost every title picture throughout his career in WWE. The one singles title he didn’t win was the United States Championship.
Triple H was likely too big for such a title, since he only competed for the WWE Championship and World Championship after the US Title became part of the WWE. Some established main eventers like John Cena did win the title to help make it relevant, but Triple H was not one of them.
8 Didn’t win Intercontinental Title: AJ Styles
AJ Styles has been in WWE for almost four years now, but he has already won most of the relevant singles titles. Styles' WWE Championship reigns helped him stand out as a top star. Styles is still having a great run as a champion during his current United States Championship reign.
The Intercontinental Championship is the one singles title that Styles has yet to win. WWE proved he didn’t need it, as he jumped straight into the WWE Championship picture for his first singles title win. Styles may still win the Intercontinental Championship, given that he has a few years left in the tank.
7 Didn’t win US Title: Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam often found his way into the top mid-card picture during his WWE run in the 2000s. Aside from the one WWE Championship win, RVD mostly was known for having great reigns as the Intercontinental Champion. It is a bit surprising that Van Dam never won the United States Championship.
RVD contended for the U.S. Title during his time on SmackDown, since that was the mid-card title of choice on the brand. Sadly, though, the United States Championship was one of the rare titles to elude Van Dam in his career.
6 Didn’t win Intercontinental Title: Mick Foley
The Intercontinental Championship was most valuable in the 90s, with names like Steve Austin, The Rock and Triple H all winning it before moving into the main event picture. Mick Foley is one name of that era to stand out, having never won the mid-card title before his main event run.
Mankind's run did see Foley challenge Triple H for the Intercontinental Championship, but the win never came. Foley only held the Hardcore Championship as a singles title. This didn’t prevent him from moving into the top of the card, where he won the WWE Championship on three occasions.
5 Didn’t win US Title: Batista
Batista is one of the few former WWE Champions to never win either the Intercontinental Championship or the United States Championship in his career. This is especially surprising when it comes to the US title, since Batista spent quite a bit of time on SmackDown.
WWE either had Batista in the world title picture or just kept him with fellow main eventers outside of any title scene. Batista never won the United States Championship, despite battling a couple of the title holders in non-title matches.
4 Didn’t win Intercontinental Title: Brock Lesnar
WWE ditched the idea of having the Intercontinental Championship serve as a stepping stone for Brock Lesnar. The momentum of Lesnar allowed him to defeat The Rock and win the WWE Championship within four months on the main roster.
He did challenge Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Championship shortly before his world title win, but a DQ finish prevented the title from changing hands. WWE felt the timing was right for Lesnar to bypass the IC Title and head straight to the top of the mountain.
3 Didn’t win US Title: Kane
Kane not winning the United States Championship at any point in his WWE career is strange, given how often he’s been involved in the mid-card picture. Kane's career has seen him take on just about every role in WWE, from main event to mid-card, heel to face and comedic to serious sides.
One thing Kane just never had work out for him was a United States Championship reign. Kane held just about every other singles title in WWE that was within his reach, but he never got a run with the US title before he transitioned away from the ring.
2 Didn’t win Intercontinental Title: John Cena
The most surprising star to never win the Intercontinental Championship at any point in his career has to be John Cena. One major reason for this is that Cena spent his entire mid-card run in WWE on SmackDown, where he won the United States Championship to be elevated.
The Intercontinental Championship was on Raw and Cena didn’t get there until he was already the WWE Champion. WWE would experiment with Cena having the United States Championship as a main eventer years later, adding prestige to that title. It is surprising they never tried the same experiment with the Intercontinental Championship, since this is a rare accolade he didn’t win.
1 Didn’t win US Title: CM Punk
CM Punk had a very successful WWE run. The WWE Championship, Intercontinental Championship, ECW Championship and Tag Team Championship were all Punk's at different points in his career, showing his consistency.
Punk never won the United States Championship, though. WWE never found the right feud or scenario to place him in that title picture. Punk being one of the top success stories of the 2000s and 2010s makes it hard to believe he was never once United States Champion.