In honor of WrestleMania 33, members of the PTBN Staff has gathered to create a series of 33 lists, all dedicated to the rich history of WWE’s grandest spectacle. Each contributor assigned a ranking of 1-10 and votes were tallied accordingly. We will be releasing one list per day, with the final list to be posted on April 1, 2017, the day prior to WrestleMania 33! Be sure to share your feedback with us on social media! You can view the complete series here!
Day Twenty-One: Best Intercontinental Title Matches
Others Getting Votes: Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal – WMX8 (15), Ken Shamrock vs. The Rock – WMXIV (7), Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect – WMVII (7), Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett – WMXI (4), Big Show vs. Cody Rhodes – WMXXVIII (3), George Steele vs. Randy Savage – WM2 (3), Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine – WMI (3)
10. Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania IX (21 Points)
Highest Ranking: #6 (Jason Greenhouse)
The Heartbreak Kid’s first WrestleMania title defense pitted him against the undefeated Tatanka, who had Michaels’ former manager, Sensational Sherri, in his corner. Tatanka built up to the title match by pinning Michaels on TV twice before challenging for the belt, giving the Native American a lot of momentum going into WrestleMania IX. Michaels and Tatanka had a fun match to open the show, and Tatanka’s undefeated streak lived on, getting a countout win over the champion.
9. Chris Jericho vs. William Regal – WrestleMania X7 (23 Points)
Highest Ranking: #5 (Scott Criscuolo)
Another example of a heel authority figure lashing out against a babyface champion, only this time in the opening match of one of the most-loved WrestleManias. Champion Jericho was raging against Commissioner Regal, leaving Ugandan Giant Kamala in his office and pissing in Regal’s tea, so Regal was out for revenge. The match set the tone for the evening with a great stiff match with Jericho retaining his title.
8. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle – WrestleMania XVI (29 Points)
Highest Ranking: #5 (Neil Trama & Tim Capel)
Kurt Angle was in the midst of one of the greatest rookie years ever and he was coming into WrestleMania 2000 as the EuroContinental Champion, holding both the European and Intercontinental Titles at the same time. Rather than give Angle two title defenses, he instead had a two-fall Triple Threat, with the first fall for the IC Title. It was an interesting gimmick in a show filled with gimmick matches, and putting Angle in a match with Jericho and Benoit basically guaranteed it to be the highlight of the show. Angle ended up losing both titles – Intercontinental to Benoit and European to Jericho – without ever being pinned, but bigger and better things were on the horizon.
7. Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude – WrestleMania V (32 Points)
Highest Ranking: #4 (Steve Riddle)
When The Ultimate Warrior steamrolled over The Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam ’88, there weren’t many people on the roster who looked like they could take the Intercontinental Title off him. When the “Ravishing One” stepped up as his WrestleMania V opponent, he wasn’t given much of a chance. But in a case of “The Brain” going over brawn, Rude’s manager Bobby Heenan put him over the top, as he grabbed Warrior’s leg on a suplex attempt and kept the champ down to give Rude the win and the title in one of the biggest upsets in WrestleMania history.
6. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Zack Ryder vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara – Ladder Match – WrestleMania 32 (39 Points)
Highest Ranking: #4 (Chris Jordan)
The ladder match has become synonymous with two things at WrestleMania: the Money in the Bank briefcase and the Intercontinental Title. Opening the show last year, the multi-man title match gave fans a lot of great moments, including Stardust using a black and yellow ladder in tribute to his father, Dusty Rhodes; and Sami Zayn putting champion Kevin Owens through a ladder with a half and half suplex. But in the end, perennial loser Zack Ryder climbed the ladder and grabbed the title to give him his WrestleMania moment.
5. Bad News Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose – Ladder Match – WrestleMania 31 (51 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Chris Jordan)
One year after having the show built around him, Daniel Bryan was inserted into the Intercontinental Title ladder match, beating out a field of favorites including champion Bad News Barrett, Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper. WrestleMania 31 started the same way that WrestleMania XXX ended, with Daniel Bryan holding his newly-won championship over his head and leading the stadium in a “YES! YES! YES!” chant. It was – as of this writing – Bryan’s final WrestleMania moment, but he went out on a high note.
4. Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VI (57 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Glenn Butler)
Despite Bruce Prichard’s recent assertion on his podcast that the Intercontinental Title was never up for grabs in the main event of WrestleMania VI, the advertising and commentary for the match clearly claimed that one man would walk out of the match with two championships. The match was Warrior’s coming out party, taking the torch as “The Man” and the WWF TItle from Hogan, but more importantly successfully defending his Intercontinental Championship in what was clearly his toughest challenge up to this point.
3. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper – WrestleMania VIII (73 Points)
Highest Ranking: #3 (Neil Trama, Mike Eller, Tim Capel, Jason Greenhouse, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
In Piper’s sole WrestleMania title defense, the Rowdy One gave the former champion a rematch in a rare babyface match at the biggest show of the year. Hart was looking to avenge his loss to the Mountie in January, and Piper and Hart both seemed to want to steal the show. Hart secretly bladed and Piper fought off his own heelish tendencies to try and outwrestle the “Excellence of Execution,” which led to his downfall when the Hitman reversed a sleeper hold to pin the champ and regain the title.
2. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels – Ladder Match – WrestleMania X (92 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Neil Trama, Mike Eller, Chris Jordan & Jason Greenhouse)
Late in 1993, Shawn Michaels was stripped of the Intercontinental Title when he was suspended, leading to Razor Ramon winning the belt. When the Heartbreak Kid came back with his old title, calling himself the “Real Intercontinental Champion,” it was clear to see a showdown was on the horizon. Very few fans had seen a ladder match before WrestleMania X, so very few fans knew what to expect going in to the match. Unlike the spotfests ladder matches have evolved into, Michaels and Ramon had a great match that happened to include a ladder, and set the bar really high for both ladder matches and Intercontinental Title matches.
1. Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage – WrestleMania III (95 Points)
Highest Ranking: #1 (Scott Criscuolo, Tim Capel, Steven Ferrari, Brian Bayless & Steve Riddle)
Not only is this match considered to be the best Intercontinental Title match ever, but many see it as one of the best overall WrestleMania matches ever. “The Dragon” was looking for revenge after Savage crushed his larynx with the ring bell, and he brought frequent Savage agitator George “The Animal” Steele along with him as back-up. The fast-paced match was built around Savage’s increased desperation to put Steamboat away, and when he grabs the ring bell, hoping to end Steamboat’s career by driving it into his throat, but Steele was there to save his friend and help Steamboat win the title. The match set an early standard for what a great WrestleMania match should look like, a great technical contest that highlighted both men’s strengths and left the fans breathless from the arm drags and near-falls.