The Five Count: Intercontinental Champions

Every competitor who gets in the business of professional wrestling wants to be World Champion some day (or they have no business there says every commentator ever), but if you ask the number two most coveted title on most guy’s lists, you’re likely to get the Intercontinental championship as an answer.

Often seen as the “workhorse belt,” the IC title has a history of being placed on the best performers who could be relied on to go out and excite a crowd, either to get them set for the main event or to steal the show. While giants and attractions often lumbered on the top of the card, the true standout workers toiled in the Intercontinental division in hopes of getting noticed and breaking through that glass ceiling.

With Night of Champions putting some spotlight on every WWE titleholder this past month, the Five Count provides our take on the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all-time.

Randy_Savage

Ben Morse

Honorable Mention: MR. PERFECT, BRET HART & SHAWN MICHAELS
The three guys who from 1990 to 1993 made it “cool” to be the Intercontinental Champion; I almost thought of making this a top 10 so they’d each get a spot, but when trying to come up with five, they run together a little for me and don’t stand out specifically as IC champs more than the folks I selected above them.

5. RANDY ORTON
Despite noble efforts by guys like Cody Rhodes and others, probably the last truly significant Intercontinental Champion would have to be Randy Orton in 2003 and 2004. The title had seen some rough times, from forgettable and hot shot reigns to eventually deactivation; “The Legend Killer” would bring relevance back to a stagnant championship by supplying main event level star power and quality feuds against everybody from Mick Foley to Shelton Benjamin.

4. THE HONKY TONK MAN
The longest-reigning and self-proclaimed “greatest Intercontinental Champion of all-time,” HTM held onto the title for 454 straight days and became somewhat synonymous with that championship. While Honky may not have been the top in-ring performer to ever hold the strap and honestly didn’t win that much, his knack for slipping out of tight situations with the title for over a year made his defenses an attraction and guaranteed the guy who defeated him an ace spot in the promotion.

3. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
While many held the Intercontinental title and then would later go on to be WWF (or WWE) Champion, only one person carried the proverbial ball all the way into the end zone, and that’s The Ultimate Warrior. After crushing Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam 1988, Warrior would ride a wave of momentum as IC champ tor most of the next two years that carried him straight through to a title vs. title win against Hulk Hogan nearly two years later at WrestleMania VI.

I came into wrestling a bit after Warrior held the Intercontinental title, so I have to appreciate this one more from a historical perspective, but you can’t dispute that he’s the sole guy to make good on the championship’s full potential while holding it. During the time of multiple house shows in one day, he proved more than a capable draw on top even before winning the big belt.

2. RAZOR RAMON
When I think of Intercontinental champions in the 90’s, I think primarily of Razor Ramon. While Razor had the skill and the popularity to compete for and probably hold the WWF title, he instead anchored the IC division, grabbing the belt four times and becoming the standard bearer from 1993 to 1996. He provided consistency and star power to maintain the legitimacy of the championship and perhaps push it even a notch or two higher.

The pinnacle of Razor Ramon’s journey as Intercontinental Champion has to be WrestleMania X, where he defeated Shawn Michaels in what many consider to still be the best Ladder match ever two decades later and held two titles aloft above the ring. “The Bad Guy” would continue to run with the momentum he received from that triumph, engaging in feuds with Diesel, Jeff Jarrett, Goldust and others that kept the IC championship squarely in the mix as part of the WWF.

1. RANDY SAVAGE
With all due respect with everybody from Pat Patterson to Greg Valentine, the first true bonafide superstar to hold the Intercontinental title was, in my humble opinion, “Macho Man” Randy Savage. From the moment he won the belt from Tito Santana in 1986, Savage legitimized the secondary title in a way those who came before him couldn’t by virtue of his charisma and being a guy clearly destined for the main event. With Savage as IC champ, the belt could truly be seen not just as a lifetime recognition award for loyal company men or something for mid-card journeymen to aspire to; the championship became a true stepping stone to the WWF title.

Savage defending the Intercontinental title in high profile feuds against Santana, George Steele and his eventual conqueror, Ricky Steamboat, but he also became the stalwart of WWF live events and television, putting his championship up for grabs in exciting contests seemingly every week while Hulk Hogan would only defend his belt on the marquee shows. As Savage became a more major player within the WWF and wrestling as a whole, he elevated the IC championship along with him.

Others have held the Intercontinental title more times than Randy Savage—he only had it once—or for longer periods of time—his 414 days is nothing to sneeze at, but there are six guys ahead of him on the all-time list—but the “Macho Man” was the first guy to truly make the belt matter; without him, who knows, it could have gone the way of the North American title, replaced without having time to build a rich legacy.

Mr_Perfect

Greg Phillips

5. CHRIS JERICHO
There is something to be said about sheer volume, and no wrestler has won the Intercontinental championship as often as Y2J. While his reigns have been fairly short (the longest lasting just more than three months), he’s held the strap a record nine times. And, for the most part, he’s been one of the few superstars of the last decade to truly make the title feel meaningful. That’s due in large part to his hard work, consistent promos and insistence upon presenting the belt as a valuable commodity.

He’s also had more great IC title matches than anyone in this century (for standouts, see his feuds with Chris Benoit in 2000 and Rey Mysterio in 2009).

4. RANDY SAVAGE
Ooooooh yeah, it’s hard to top the “Macho Man” when ranking the Intercontinental champions, yeah. But seriously, Macho just looked right with the belt, more so than almost anyone. He delivered promos so great that they made viewers think, if only briefly, that the IC belt was more important than the WWF title. From the beginning of his reign (a hot feud with another great IC champ, Tito Santana) through battles with lugs like George Steele, Savage created an energy around the belt that has rarely been matched. And his reign ended with a fantastic feud and one of the greatest bouts of all time, both against Ricky Steamboat.

Everything about Savage’s presentation screamed “superstar.” By association, the championship was elevated to new heights that would almost never be reached again.

3. SHAWN MICHAELS
“The Heartbreak Kid” is known today as arguably the greatest wrestler in WWE history. But it was the Intercontinental championship that really allowed Shawn Michaels to become HBK, the Showstopper, the Icon, the Main Event, and so forth and so on. First winning the title from Davey Boy Smith in a hidden gem (available on the WWE Network for just under $10, I hear), Shawn’s initial reign featured stellar defenses against Marty Jannetty, Tatanka and Crush, including a terrific champion-vs.-champion match against Bret Hart. And, of course, the famous Ladder match against Razor Ramon was to determine an undisputed IC champ.

A few years later, Michaels used the IC belt to cement his babyface turn, putting on an unbelievably great match with Jeff Jarrett on pay-per-view before having a vicious, fantastic ladder rematch against Razor. By the time his tenure as champ was over, HBK was established as one of the company’s top stars and it was just a matter of time before he reached the top of the figurative ladder.

2. BRET HART
In the old days, the Intercontinental title was the stepping stone to World championship dreams. Such was the case for my favorite wrestler, “The Hitman.” Coming off the split of the Hart Foundation, Bret needed something big to establish him as a believable singles star. That big moment came in the form of a now-legendary SummerSlam title match against incumbent IC titleholder Mr. Perfect. Hart and Curt Hennig tore the house down that summer night, and the Hitman became a made man shortly thereafter. Title defenses against the likes of Rick Martel tided him over until he dropped the belt and eventually got a shot for another star-making turn, this time at WrestleMania VIII against Roddy Piper. There, Bret managed to get arguably Piper’s best WWF in-ring performance, wowing the crowd with another wrestling classic.

Over the summer of 1992, Bret would engage in a series of great (and occasionally groundbreaking) matches against Shawn Michaels, including the WWF’s first Ladder Match. And when it was time to step up to the next level, Bret dropped the belt in a five-star masterpiece against the British Bulldog. I will never forget the WWF Magazine cover with Bret holding the belt after beating Perfect.

1. MR. PERFECT
For the better part of two years, Mr. Perfect WAS the Intercontinental championship. He carried it with pride and an unmatched swagger, so much that he never quite looked right without the strap. Curt Hennig really was a nearly perfect wrestler by the time he won the belt, so it added an air of legitimacy to his nickname. Along with manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Perfect made it clear that the IC title was his and his alone until he got tired of it. Along the way, Perfect had entertaining bouts and rivalries with everyone from a past-his-prime Tito Santana to a past-his-prime Kerry Von Erich to an entering-his-prime Big Boss Man, and he sprinkled in these little gems against Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart.

To me, Hennig should’ve gotten the IC belt months before he did, and he should’ve never dropped it to the “Texas Tornado.” This would have served two positive purposes: erasing Honky Tonk Man from the record books and establishing someone truly deserving of the title “Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time.” Hennig truly was the Perfect choice.

Shawn_Michaels

Marc Clair

This was easily the most difficult Five Count list I have ever put together. There have been so many great Intercontinental champions over the years (well, not recent years, but I digress…) that narrowing it down to a top five seemed like a daunting task. Accordingly, the deciding factor on who to include and who to leave off had come down to my own personal biases, and perhaps a touch of nostalgia based on the guys I watched growing up. This is the only plausible explanation I can give for leaving off such all-time greats as Pedro Morales, Tito Santana, Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Razor Ramon (the most difficult to exclude for me), and even the man who has held the title more times than any other, Chris Jericho, while starting my list with….

5. THE HONKY TONK MAN
Surely less skilled in the ring than any wrestler I mentioned above, or any wrestler I will mention below, the Honky Tonk Man was the reigning—and incredibly irritating—Intercontinental Champion when I first became a wrestling fan circa 1988. His 454 day run as IC champ was noteworthy not for epic title defenses, but for how Honky would typically either get disqualified or counted out—and therefore retain the title—or win in the absolute cheapest of fashions. All the while, he was doing a cheesy Elvis impersonation and generally just annoying the hell out of everyone—which is what a great heel should do! While most of the actual matches during Honky’s run as IC champ were forgettable, the method by which he was built up as champion would serve to truly launch whoever ended his reign into superstardom. And that man was indeed launched, all the way to the #4 spot in this very Five Count!

4. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
One of my very first memories as a wrestling fan was attending a closed-circuit viewing of SummerSlam 1988 live. I was big into Brutus Beefcake at the time, because hey, what kid wouldn’t love a wrestling barber? Naturally I was stoked to see my boy Brutus set to take on the annoying Honky Tonk Man that night, and was equally disappointed to find out that he would be unable to compete due to injuries suffered at the hands of evil wrestling cowboy, Ron Bass. But my disappointment wouldn’t last long, as Honky would foolishly issue an open challenge, the “DUNH….DUNH DUNH DUNH DUNH…!!!” of the Ultimate Warrior’s music blasted over the loudspeakers, and he ran down to the ring and destroyed Honky Tonk Man in seconds. After he had cheaply retained the title for close to a year and a half, Honky’s reign had to end convincingly, and his utter destruction by the Warrior couldn’t have been more convincing, elevating the already-popular Warrior into the upper echelon of WWF Superstars. While Warrior’s back-to-back reigns as IC champ didn’t produce many memorable matches outside of his great series with Rick Rude, he would hold the belt for a total of 432 days, an impressive feat on its own. To seal his spot in this Five Count, Warrior never even lost the belt to anyone after winning it back from Rude. Instead, he was forced to vacate the title after winning the World title from Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI. Now that’s about as impressive a way to lose a title as I can think of! Next up…the man who would go on to win that vacant title…

3. MR. PERFECT
From the very first vignette featuring him making unbelievable pool shots, I was hooked on “Mr. Perfect.” He may very well have been the first heel wrestler I was a fan of, as I was typically a fan of the cartoony faces during this time. But something about Mr. Perfect just seemed so…darn…cool. Maybe it was the fact that I still thought this whole wrasslin’ thing was legit, so the feat of throwing yourself a touchdown was all the more impressive in that context. Perfect was also the first wrestler I truly started to appreciate for his work as a wrestler. Every movement of his in the ring just looked so crisp and…ahem…perfectly executed. It truly was a fitting name for one of the best wrestlers I had ever seen. After defeating Tito Santana in a tournament to win the vacant title, Perfect went on to dominate as IC champion for the better part of a year and a half, with only a slight interruption for a brief reign from the Texas Tornado. The opposite of Honky Tonk Man, Perfect was a winning champion, usually defeating his opponents completely clean in the middle of the ring with the Perfectplex. His reign was capped off with a loss to Bret Hart, which I got to witness live at MSG—in the crowd for real this time!—in one of my personal favorite matches of all time. Perfect was in heavy consideration for my #1 spot, but competition was fierce…

2. SHAWN MICHAELS
There are plenty of valid reasons to criticize Shawn Michaels—paging Chad Campbell!—like his backstage politics, convenient excuses not to drop titles, his occasional in-ring tantrums—but they are merely a footnote when compared to the vast body of Michaels’ impressive work as a singles star. We first got to see glimpses of what the “Showstopper” would become during his run as Intercontinental Champion, which began seemingly out of nowhere when he defeated the British Bulldog on Saturday Night’s Main Event two weeks before Survivor Series 1992. From there on out, every Shawn Michaels match was a big deal. His IC title defenses often felt like the most important match on the show, and he had many, many good to great matches with the likes of Tatanka and Marty Jannetty, along with his classic Ladder matches with Razor Ramon. To top it all off, he carried Jeff Jarrett to what is by any rational judgment the greatest match of Jarrett’s career. Sure, he gets points docked for having to be stripped of the title not once, but twice, but that’s why he’s not at #1…

1. RANDY SAVAGE
Full disclosure: Randy Savage is one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time, and going back and watching his work in hindsight is only increasing the admiration I have for him as a wrestler. Chances are that if I have to compile a list in which Randy Savage is eligible, there is a very good chance that he will rank very highly on it. When Vince McMahon brought Savage in from Memphis in 1985, he planned to push him right away and wasted very little time in having him win the Intercontinental title, defeating Tito Santana in February of 1986. Savage would go on to hold the title for 414 days, including many memorable matches with Tito, George “The Animal” Steele, and of course, his famous feud with Ricky Steamboat culminating in their legendary match at WrestleMania III. Savage would move on to bigger and better things after losing the title, but his initial run as IC champion laid the groundwork for his super stardom to come.

Other than the Honky Tonk Man, every wrestler on this list is one of my personal favorites of all-time, and just as Randy Savage tops my overall wrestler list, so does he top my list of greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time.

Razor_Ramon

Steve Rogers

5. CHRIS JERICHO
Oddly enough, for a guy who holds the record for most Intercontinental reigns with nine, Jericho doesn’t quite have that iconic reign that defines him as one of the all-time champs. Maybe it’s his first grouping of reigns across 1999 through 2001, just before he was capitulated into the main event scene, as he was showing what WCW had failed to see in him, and why he was, and still is, one of the most popular wrestling performers of all-time. His last few do seem more or less like “well, let’s give him something to do” sort of reigns, or “padding stats” as the IC belt itself was starting to get devalued. But on the strength of those original runs, Y2J should be seen as a great example of what the belt should always have been: the “workers’ title,” and the belt given to the guy whom you’d imagine would be in the main event scene pretty darn soon. Oh sure, there is the bit with Chyna and sharing the title, but at the end of the day, his reigns during those years, and subsequent feuds with Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle, were among some of the last times that the IC title “mattered.”

4. THE ROCK
Dwayne Johnson only has two IC reigns in his career, but they both are nice ways to do a side-by-side comparison of his wrestling persona’s legendary career. The first one, winning off of Triple H and dropping it to Owen Hart in 1997, was a personification of the insanity of force feeding a gimmick down an audience’s throat. The obnoxiousness of pushing the “Blue Chipper” Rocky Maivia was so over the top in an era where that sort of babyface was becoming few and far between that taking the title off of him and a legit injury that put him on the shelf for much of the summer of 1997, did much to help rehabilitate “Maivia” when he returned and made his heel turn a turn based on the negative crowd reactions. Later that year it was clear that the newly rechristened “Rock,” a character no doubt taking cues from the stereotypical self-absorbed, third person talking 1990’s athlete as a rock star types, was on his way to being a star.

So The Rock went right back into the IC picture. While he lost the PPV match to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the whole feud and storyline that culminated in Austin surrendering the title to The Rock…well it continued for a little while longer with the classic Austin chucking the title into a river. The Rock would go on to have a reign akin to Honky Tonk Man’s, as the heel trying to do everything he could to keep his long reign going. It is here where The Rock started to get organic positive responses from the crowds, to the point where it was clear that he would be a great babyface character when he’d eventually turn. This was teased a bit in the months after The Rock dropped the title at SummerSlam to Triple H—the feud with those two leading their respective factions, the Nation and DX, was a big highlight of the WWF’s summer of 1998—as testing the waters of a Rock face turn. But the character would go on to build momentum as a charismatic, trash talking heel as he was pushed as the World Champion for most of the winter of 1998 and 1999 with a certain “Texas Rattlesnake” waiting for him at WrestleMania.

So while his second reign was more typical of what an IC reign meant in terms of a stepping stone during its heyday, The Rock, Rocky Maivia, Dwayne Johnson, whatever you want to call him, his two reigns should put him in the conversation of the greatest IC champs of all-time.

3. BRET HART
The Hitman’s two reigns between 1991 and 1992 probably did more to solidify the title reputation as not only the workers’ title, but the next step on a Superstar’s path to being a main eventer. Hart was already on the fast track, but getting the secondary single’s belt meant more than getting a big push and angle for a WrestleMania battle royal. This was pretty much the WWF getting ready to slap the rocket to Hart’s back when it came to him being a singles star. And his classic matches, especially his first title win at SummerSlam over Mr. Perfect and dropping it for the last time to Davey Boy Smith a year later, were key to getting over the idea that technical mat-based wrestling was in fact getting over with the fans of the day. While Hart’s ascension to the World title division resulted in his legs getting kicked from under him—wouldn’t be the last, both IRL and literally in storyline—with a loss at WrestleMania IX, it was clear Hart was someone the Federation knew fans were behind him and that they could use as a foundation—no pun intended—for the company in the coming years.

2. RAZOR RAMON
HEY, YO! There probably is a good reason that “The Bad Guy” himself, and not Scott Hall—despite being a tag champ in the AWA, and multiple tag and secondary champ in WCW—was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this past year. Hell, it’s probably the same reason why when Scott Hall grabbed the microphone after interrupting the Mike Enos-Steve Doll match on the May 27, 1996 Nitro, he went into full on Razor Ramon character voice and mannerisms, and kept it up pretty much through, with some toned down tweaks, the rest of his career, as opposed to something new entirely. The gimmick was that well known and popular. And yeah, Hall’s appearance, directed or on his own, did land WCW in some legal trouble—I’d suppose the lack of difference with Diesel and Kevin Nash got him off the hook—but Hall’s Razor Ramon was hard to separate from Scott Hall—just ask Rick Bognar.

And part of that is Ramon’s dominance in the IC division during the latter part of the early 1990’s. With four reigns, most notably his first which includes defeating Shawn Michaels in the legendary Ladder match at WrestleMania X, it puts him as one of the quintessential IC division performers. Unfortunately both Hall’s personal demons and bolting for greener pastures in WCW were the reasons why Ramon never got the elevated push after dominating the IC scene—his demons are also part of why he never was pushed beyond tag champ and secondary title holder in WCW as well—that champions before, and after him would get. But despite that, Ramon remains one of the most successful and greatest IC champions of all-time.

1. RANDY SAVAGE
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Prior to Savage’s reign, the belt hadn’t quite gotten to its iconic “next step, Main Event Glory” status. Oh sure, its holders would get shots at Bob Backlund, and it was held by big names of the day: Pat Paterson, Ken Patera, Don Muraco, former World Champion Pedro Morales, Tito Santana and Greg Valentine, but it wasn’t quite the upper mid-card “proving ground” that the division would soon be known for. When Savage took the title from Santana, it marked the new era for the title, and it would be further cemented when Savage finally dropped the belt in the iconic WrestleMania III match against Ricky Steamboat. This also began a long tradition of the IC match on a PPV event, usually WrestleMania and SummerSlam, being one of, if not the best matches of the night. This was the start of the idea that the IC division could main event the secondary tour, and be a way of fine tuning a potential main eventer. And there were few better for that role than “Mach,” it may have been a single title reign, as he would be main event bound after dropping the title, but it was one of the most important, and historic in the history of the title.

Mountie

Aaron George

So I sat down to do my usual nonsense, and when I started thinking about writing about the worst and stupidest Intercontinental reigns of all time instead of being filled with glee and malevolence, I was just filled with sadness over how far this once amazing title has fallen. So since I can’t put the Mountie five times here’s my legitimate list of the greatest Intercontinental champions of all time.

5. THE MOUNTIE
Because he always gets his man.

5. (actual) MR. PERFECT
What do you do when you’ve been continuously emasculated by Hulk Hogan? Why you go on to have one of the most memorable love affairs with the continents this side of Pat Patterson and the east side of Montreal. I’m sure I’m going to be mentioning time and time again, Perfect brought a legitimacy and importance to the title that very few at the time could have. Though he would drop it for a short period to a man with a dirty mechanical secret, Perfect still set the stage for the next few years and became the measuring stick by which all 90’s IC champions were judged. It’s kind of weird talking about guys from this era as they don’t have a ton of PPV title defenses to point to as great matches, but Perfect was specifically great in his Saturday Night’s Main Event performances, especially against Chico Santana. Mr. Perfect enhanced the division in every possible way, he was always entertaining and when he was finally beaten for the title (by a non-robot) it actually meant something.

4. THE MOUNTIE
Because you can try to run, but you can never hide.

4. (actual) THE ROCK
I consider The Rock the last great Intercontinental Champion. The fact that he lost the title in 1998 makes me want to put on “Land of 1000 Dances” and swallow glass. I love that Rock acted like the Intercontinental title was the most important championship in the promotion/world/universe because he carried it. He was the champ. Not Austin, not Brown, not Sable, him. To some, the title is a prop they need to build their credibility; to the Rock, it opened the door for him to brag about being the people’s champion, and was the conduit by which he finally entered our hearts. This time though, he didn’t force his way into our hearts, he was gently invited and unlike the lover who will beg and eventually take your affection, we welcomed Rock inside us. He had great feuds with Ken Shamrock, Steve Austin and eventually lost the title to Jesus Christ. The years have passed, but the image of an oiled up Samoan representing the continents with swagger and eyebrows will never fade. The Rock was the man. The man inside each of us.

3. THE MOUNTIE
Because he tried to take Roddy Piper’s integrity.

3. (actual) RANDY SAVAGE
Savage is pretty much the perfect wrestler, and when you’re the perfect wrestler living in the orange shadow of Hulkamania, the best you can hope for is a few months as IC champ. They gave him over a year. Savage’s reign will almost always certainly be remembered for his classic match where he lost the title to that quitter Ricky Steamboat. In a lot of ways, that’s a shame. Not because the match wasn’t great (who body slams like that?) but because the year that preceded it was a tremendous year for the title because of the “Macho Man.” He took on all comers, heels, faces, animals and almost every match was solid. Broken record time: he made the title seem important which many, many men and Jarrett reigns could not do. Savage’s whole package was amazing, his promos and in-ring work were second to none and it’s hardly a surprise he was able to rise to just below the Hogan rung. He was such a great counterpoint to the red and yellow: Where Hogan was lumbering and strong, Savage was quick and agile. While Hogan was a superhero, Savage was all too human. While Hogan was selfish and orange, Savage was selfless and orange. You get the idea. Randy Savage was a once in a lifetime talent, and by the sheer length of time the title spent around his waist, the IC got much more Macho than it was before.

2. THE MOUNTIE
Because “I ammmmmmmmmm the Mountie!!!!!!”

2. (actual) THE HONKY TONK MAN
454 days and not a single god damned victory. Honky’s one of those guys that if you turn on the TV and not know you’re watching wrestling, you must be so confused as to what it and he is. Whatever he is it just worked for the Intercontinental title. He didn’t deserve it and he didn’t earn it so you wanted him to lose it. EVERY TIME. And you believed he could lose it. EVERY TIME. It didn’t matter if he was wrestling Brutus Beefcake or Sam fucking Houston, you knew he wasn’t strong enough or smart enough to win. So he didn’t win, but he was still champ FOREVER. Couple that with five to ten minute song and dance parties before each match made Honky the perfect cowardly heel champion. The amazing amount of patience they showed in building this reign is something they’d never do again (which is dumb, he was OVER) but it led to perhaps the greatest dethroning of all time, and The Honky Tonk Man deserved the credit for making it all work. You just wanted to beat the shit out of Elvis every time.

1. THE MOUNTIE
Because he survived his prison rape with dignity and pride. To this day he doesn’t mind how leather feels against his skin.

1. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
What? Yup. If the measure of a champion is how much he elevates the title then I don’ t think there’s any other option for number one, and anyone who doesn’t have him listed as such should be sentenced to only watching Chyna’s IC reign/sexcapades. Not only does he have the aforementioned possible greatest dethroning of Honky, but he was credibly headlining house shows and even made the IC match a main event at WrestleMania. (I know… I know…) There was never a moment during Warrior’s two reigns where he wasn’t completely invested and interested in making the title the most important thing you’ll ever see. His feud with Rude was fantastic (and not only carried by Rude) and he entered the Royal Rumble as a favorite while representing the continents. Imagine that today? No way Miz or Ziggler enter the Rumble as favorites, much less have a stare down with the centerpiece of the company that would make the people lose their collective minds. So for these reasons and many more (he was chosen by the gods), the man who I feel is the most underrated pro wrestler of all time tops my list. If he had a match with The Mountie there isn’t a pair of pants in the world that could contain my erection.

Ultimate_Warrior

And now, our overall Five Count…

5. BRET HART/THE HONKY TONK MAN/SHAWN MICHAELS
Two of the greatest in-ring workers of all-time, forever linked to one another, plus the longest reigning champ of them all.

4. RAZOR RAMON
The dominant Intercontinental Champion of the mid-to-late 90’s, Razor Ramon had a star quality on the level of any World champ.

3. MR. PERFECT
In the early 1990’s, Mr. Perfect re-established the IC title as the “workhorse” championship, putting on great matches and making the belt a commodity on any show.

2. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Only one Superstar has carried the Intercontinental title all the way to the next level, becoming WWF Champion while holding the strap. Nobody could possibly make the championship mean more than the Warrior did.

1. RANDY SAVAGE
The first true Mega-star to hold the Intercontinental title, the “Macho Man” elevated the championship on his way to becoming a main event star and cultural icon. Randy Savage could headline with his charisma, skill and the IC title strapped around his waist or over his shoulder.

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.