The WWE Intercontinental Championship is arguably the most prestigious title in the WWE after the World Championships and over the years, has been hailed as the ‘title of the workhorse’, indicating that high-quality matches can be expected from the holder.
In its 44-year history, the Championship has been held by greats like Pedro Morales, Tito Santana, and Bret Hart with many of those 180-plus title reigns being extremely memorable one way or the other.
Who can forget the British Bulldog selling out London’s 80,000-seat Wembley stadium and winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship in the main event of SummerSlam 1992 against Bret Hart or Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels stealing the show with their ladder match classic for the belt at WrestleMania 10?
However, there have also been less-than-stellar runs with the title belt. In fact, hardly anyone remembers Dean Douglas, JBL, or even the Big Show as Intercontinental Champions as their reigns have been incredibly short or lackluster due to the title not being given its original prominence. This list looks at five Intercontinental title reigns that have largely been forgotten by WWE fans.
Edge – 1999
With five Intercontinental title reigns, Edge is one of the greatest WWE Intercontinental Champions in the promotion’s history. However, hardly anyone remembers his very first run with the title, which came way back in 1999 and lasted a single day.
Edge had made his TV debut just a year earlier and was scheduled to face Intercontinental Champion Jeff Jarrett in a house show match on July 24, 1999. Considering that the show was taking place in his hometown of Toronto, Edge was expected to give a good showing but wasn’t the favorite to win the match.
But WWE decided to give the fans a nice surprise when Edge pinned Jarrett clean and after a bit of confusion, an unlikely house show title change was confirmed.
The reason most fans don’t remember this title change was because it was never televised and a day later at the Fully Loaded PPV, Jarrett beat Edge to regain the belt. There was no follow-up feud as Edge returned to his tag team program with Christian almost immediately.
Rikishi – 2000
The Intercontinental title was a bit of a hot potato in the late 1990s and the early 2000s after Ken Shamrock’s 125-day run ended in October 1998. None of the title reigns for the next five years – comprising of an incredible 50 title changes – saw a wrestler hold on to the belt for at least three months till Randy Orton began his coming-of-age 210-day run with the belt in 2003.
Forgotten among that half-century of title switches was Rikishi’s two-week reign with the WWE Intercontinental Championship which began and ended on SmackDown.
Chris Benoit was the WWE Intercontinental Champion as WWE headed into the 2000 King of the Ring PPV and the Wolverine was scheduled to face Rikishi in the first round of the namesake tournament. However, WWE Creative inexplicably decided to keep Benoit vs. Rikishi for the IC title on the SmackDown before the PPV, and even more surprisingly, Rikishi beat Benoit with the Banzai Drop to win the title for the first time.
Three days later, Rikishi would beat Benoit and Val Venis to proceed to the finals of the King of the Ring tournament but after-the-bell chair shots suffered in both those matches would make him vulnerable to a fresher Kurt Angle in the finals. Rikishi would proceed to feud with Venis for the belt but 14 days after he originally won the title, he would drop it to Venis on SmackDown after a cheapshot from Tazz.
Albert – 2001
2001 was supposed to be the greatest year in pro wrestling as Vince McMahon’s purchase of WCW and ECW kicked off the Invasion storyline pitting the WWE against wrestlers from both those companies in an angle that initially had fans salivating at the prospect of cross-promotion.
However, it soon became clear that major WCW stars like Sting, Goldberg, and the nWo weren’t immediately coming over to the WWE and it put a dampener on the storyline.
In the middle of all that, Albert – the future A-Train and Tensai – defeated white-hot Kane for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, a title that the Big Red Monster had won from Triple H to an incredible reaction a month earlier at the Judgement Day PPV. The title switch happened after a distraction from WCW’s Diamond Dallas Page and was just another chapter in the DDP vs. The Undertaker rivalry, which didn’t help Albert very much.
This remains the sole championship won by Albert in the WWE and less than a month later, the current head trainer at the WWE Performance Institute lost the championship to Lance Storm, who started another forgettable run with the belt.
Ezekial Jackson – 2011
Arguably the least deserving Intercontinental champion in history, Ezekial Jackson was forced down the throat of WWE fans in 2010. He would go down in history as the last ECW Champion, defeating popular title holder Christian in the final ECW show, and then soon moved to SmackDown as part of the short-lived Corre faction with Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, and Justin Gabriel.
Barrett was the Intercontinental champion at the time and he and Jackson gradually came to blows, with the former retaining the title over Jackson in multiple matches via count out and disqualification.
In a rematch that nobody had asked for, Jackson finally beat Barrett for the belt at Capitol Punishment 2011 before successfully defending it against Barrett and later Ted DiBiase. He held on to the belt for 54 days before losing it to Cody Rhodes and coming short in another rematch.
Jackson would soon fall down the pecking order and was eventually released in 2014.
The Mountie – 1992
In the thirteen years since the Intercontinental title was introduced in 1979, there had only been 19 reigns with the belt with each title run lasting at least two months. That longevity ended in 1992 when The Mountie embarked on his blink-and-miss run with the belt after defeating Bret Hart of all people before losing to Roddy Piper a mere two days later.
The Mountie was Jacques Rougeau’s gimmick of a corrupt Royal Canadian Mountain Police member, but the title switch was made as popular babyface Hart was nearing the end of his WWE contract. Mountie’s win came at a house show two days before the Royal Rumble and at the PPV, Roddy Piper beat him with a sleeper hold to win the championship.
Rougeau did get a rematch with Piper when he tried to use his cattleprod to shock Piper, but the Rowdy one countered it by wearing a shockproof vest inside his shirt. Mountie was relegated to the undercard soon after as a re-signed Bret Hart beat Piper for the Championship in a memorable clash at WrestleMania 8.
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