One of the most prestigious titles in WWE is the Intercontinental Championship. While it may not hold the same value in some fan's eyes now, for many years, it was a stepping stone to the WWE world title. Macho Man Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior proved themselves as the IC champion and then moved on to replace Hulk Hogan to various levels of success.
Even in the '90s, guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels parlayed their success with the Intercontinental Championship into massive success as world champions. There are also some wrestlers, such as Honky Tonk Man, who became massive stars thanks to the IC title without ever holding a world title. However, through the years, many wrestlers were hot-shotted to the world title. Here are 10 WWE world champions who never won the Intercontinental Championship.
10 AJ STYLES
When AJ Styles showed up in WWE, he was already a massive worldwide star. A former Impact Wrestling world and IWGP Champion, Styles showed up at the Royal Rumble and proved he was ready for the big time in WWE.
His first title in WWE was the world championship. He has worked the mid-card title scene, but it was as the three-time United States Champion. However, he is one of the top WWE superstars in the company today who is a former WWE world champion but never won the Intercontinental Championship.
The Undertaker was a star from the first moment he showed up in WWE. In an era where WWE brought in a lot of cartoony characters who remain lost in memory, Undertaker became a character that thrived. He became a living legend for WWE, both with hardcore and casual wrestling fans.
Thanks to his immediate success and his role for many years as a special attraction, he never worked in the mid-card scene during his long career. Outside of a handful of tag team title reigns, Undertaker was someone who was always competing for a world title but never won the Intercontinental title in his career.
8 BRAY WYATT
Bray Wyatt has been a world champion, although his title reign was mostly forgettable thanks to a lackluster feud with Randy Orton dominating that reign. Outside of his title reign on top of SmackDown Live, Wyatt has worked mainly as a popular heel who rarely got pushed into title reigns.
Bray Wyatt has never even had a chance to enjoy a run with the Intercontinental Championship. When looking at the character, WWE might see him similar to Undertaker and Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the sense that he does not need the title to be a star.
7 JOHN CENA
John Cena got his big start thanks to the United States Championship. When he came up as a rookie, it was that title that he proved himself by carrying. Shortly after that, Cena rocketed up the roster and became the biggest star in WWE and became the face of the company for over a decade.
John Cena has held more world titles than any other wrestler in WWE history outside of Nature Boy Ric Flair. Even in his later years when WWE gave him a mid-card title again, it was the United States Championship. Cena has never held a single Intercontinental Championship in his illustrious career.
When Sheamus came into WWE, the company immediately earmarked for the world title. In 2009, Sheamus made his main roster WWE debut for ECW. He moved to Monday Night Raw four months later and beat John Cena for the world title two months after that. It was one of the fastest rises in WWE and Sheamus was a main event star.
Sheamus ended up winning four world titles, but he never won the Intercontinental Championship. He did get two United States title reigns and was most recently a hugely successful tag team wrestler, with five tag title reigns.
5 BROCK LESNAR
Brock Lesnar is a wrestler that was an immediate star the second he debuted on the main roster. He showed up with Paul Heyman and attacking wrestlers on Monday Night Raw, positioned as a blue-chip superstar that no one could stop. Three months later, he won the King of the Ring Tournament, and two months later he beat The Rock to win the world title.
Brock Lesnar has never looked back. He is a seven-time world champion but has never held any other title in the company, mid-card or tag team. He is considered a main event star and any lower title is below Lesnar.
4 ALBERTO DEL RIO
One could have considered Alberto Del Rio a perfect person to hold the Intercontinental Championship. With a lineage that included stars from all over the world, the name of the title made it seem like a perfect title for Del Rio to prove himself holding.
However, WWE liked the idea of the Mexican aristocrat holding the United States title. Del Rio left WWE years ago, but he was one of their top stars, with four world title reigns. He never a chance to win the Intercontinental Championship.
Just like Brock Lesnar, WWE saw Batista as a main event star and not as a mid-card wrestler. Outside of his initial introduction with D-Von Dudley, Batista became a star with Evolution and thanks to working with Triple H and Ric Flair, Batista became a massive star.
Batista never won a mid-card singles title and was never the Intercontinental Champion. However, he did win six world titles and was often seen as an equal to John Cena when both men were on top of the two WWE brands. He did hold four tag team titles but never bothered with the minor titles.
2 MARK HENRY
It seems surprising that Mark Henry made his WWE debut shortly before the Attitude Era began and never won the Intercontinental Championship. Henry was someone who never really needed a title at all to succeed in his role as a monster in WWE.
Henry did hold the European Championship on one occasion, and he was a two-time world champion, holding the ECW title once and the WWE title once. However, he never won any other title in his WWE Hall of Fame career.
1 HULK HOGAN
Hulk Hogan came to WWE from AWA, and Vince McMahon saw dollar signs. As a result, McMahon had Hogan come in as the Real American, drop a leg on the Iron Sheik and win the WWE world title fast. After that, Hogan never cared about anything but holding the world title.
There was one point later in his career where Hulk Hogan won the tag team titles with Edge, but outside of that he never bothered with any other title. He was a six-time WWE world champion and a six-time WCW world champion but never held the Intercontinental Championship.