First introduced to WWE on Sept. 1, 1979, the Intercontinental Championship has been held by a wide variety of unique and talented competitors, from The Texas Tornado and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to Rey Mysterio and The Miz.
For some Superstars, winning this coveted title is the pinnacle of their career. For others, it’s just the beginning. Regardless, this list is not concerned with what was accomplished before or after a Superstar’s title reign, but what they did during their time as champion. And of the many greats that have held the Intercontinental Title, here is the top 10 and the rest can be viewed on WWE.com.
10. Tito Santana- Arriba! One of the most beloved WWE Superstars of the 1980s, two-time Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana became a crowd favorite thanks to his epic battles against the likes of Don Muraco and “Cowboy” Bob Orton over the title. Since these men were such vicious competitors, Santana was often bloodied and beaten by the end of their matches, but he never quit. Still, the WWE Hall of Famer’s most memorable championship rivalry was against Greg Valentine, which culminated in a legendary Steel Cage Match in Baltimore in 1985. High-risk, exciting and aggressive, the bout exemplified everything that made Santana great. It was because of performers like Santana that the Intercontinental Title established as reputation as the workhorse’s championship in WWE.
9. Randy Orton- Some Superstars truly are born better. Take Randy Orton. From the moment he first set foot in a WWE ring, it was clear that the third-generation Superstar was destined for great things. This limitless potential was first realized at Armageddon in 2003 when Orton defeated Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Championship. The Viper‘s run became the longest reign of the modern era as he defended the title for 210 days against Superstars like Mick Foley and Edge. In the eyes of many WWE fans, Orton’s exceptional time as Intercontinental Champion restored the title’s prestige after its 2003 revival.
8. Pedro Morales- A defining Superstar of his era, Pedro Morales’ name recurs again and again in WWE record books. For starters, the Puerto Rican Superstar was the first man to win WWE’s Triple Crown (WWE, Intercontinental and World Tag Team Championships). On top of that, Morales was the first Superstar to win the Intercontinental Championship twice, holding the title for a combined length of more than 600 days — longer than any other Superstar in history. With stats like that, there’s no disputing Morales’ position in the WWE Hall of Fame — and this list.
7. Bret “The Hitman” Hart- After dominating WWE’s tag team division as a member of the renowned Hart Foundation, Bret Hart established himself as a major singles star when he defeated Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam 1991. The match showcased everything that the WWE Universe would come to respect about the WWE Hall of Famer, from technically brilliant reversals to thrilling near falls. The “Hit Man” would continue to have fantastic matches as a two-time champion, including a showdown with The British Bulldog in front of 80,355 in London’s Wembley Stadium at SummerSlam ’92. Hart lost the bout, but it remains one of his greatest performances.
6. Razor Ramon- Say hello to the bad guy. A four-time Intercontinental Champion, WWE Hall of Famer Razor Ramon held the title for a combined 438 days during the peak of his WWE career in the mid-’90s. These lengthy reigns were full of memorable bouts against the likes of Jeff Jarrett and Goldust, but the peak of Ramon’s Intercontinental Championship battles were his historic Ladder Matches against Shawn Michaels. Thrilling and dangerous, these innovative contests, which happened at WrestleMania X and SummerSlam 1995, have been hailed as two of the best bouts in WWE history and inspired a whole new generation of Superstars to enter the ring.
5. Honky Tonk Man- Ask The Honky Tonk Man who the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time is and he won’t hesitate to say himself. The Memphis native has reason to be cocky — he holds the record for longest Intercontinental Title reign of all time at an amazing 454 days. Defeating Ricky Steamboat for the championship in 1987, Honky Tonk Man kept his guitar-strumming fingers on the title for more than a year by any means necessary, including — but not limited to — getting counted out or disqualified on purpose. It may not have been the noblest reign of all time, but it earned the rock ‘n’ roller his place in WWE history.
4. Mr. Perfect- Few Superstars lived up to their moniker the way Mr. Perfect did. A remarkable athlete and a WWE Hall of Famer, the Minnesota native is best remembered by the WWE Universe for his two dominant runs with the Intercontinental Title in the 1990s. Defeating Tito Santana in a tournament for his first championship, the arrogant grappler battled the legendary likes of The Texas Tornado and Bret “Hit Man” Hart in the years that followed. Perfect’s second reign as champion was even more impressive as he held the title for an amazing 280 days, making him the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of the decade. Simply perfect!!!!
3. Ultimate Warrior- Mowing down The Honky Tonk Man in 31 seconds to win his first Intercontinental Title, Ultimate Warrior displayed this type of explosive dominance again and again in his two runs as champion. Curiously, the wild man from Parts Unknown held the title for exactly 216 days during each of these reigns. What’s more impressive is that the WWE Hall of Famer never actually lost the championship during his second run, but vacated the title after defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania VI. How many Superstars in WWE history can make a claim like that?
2. Chris Jericho- Nine times. No Superstar even comes close to Chris Jericho’s record-setting number of Intercontinental Title reigns. First winning the championship from Chyna in winter 1999, Jericho went on to defeat everyone from Jeff Hardy to Rob Van Dam to capture a staggering nine titles over the next decade. The quality of Y2J’s matches with the championship on the line is nearly unparalleled, especially his Mask vs. Title Match with Rey Mysterio from The Bash in 2009. Maybe Jericho really is “the best in the world at what he does.”
1. Randy “Macho Man” Savage- On Feb. 8, 1986, Randy Savage defeated Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Championship in the historic Boston Garden, kicking off the greatest reign in the title’s storied history. For more than 400 days, Savage held on to the championship in the face of challengers like Jake “The Snake” Roberts and George “The Animal” Steele, and brought a higher level of credibility to the title through his amazing in-ring performances. When Macho Man did finally lose the championship, it was to Ricky Steamboat in one of the most acclaimed matches in WWE history at WrestleMania III. Even in defeat, Savage was still the greatest.
Some of the names missing from the top 10 but are listed are big names such as: “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Shawn Michaels, The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, Jeff Hardy and many more. Head over to the site and you can vote on who you think is the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time right here? Also check out the playlist of highlights of some of the best Intercontinental Championship matches also.
My top 5 Intercontinental Champions of all time in no particular order are: “Macho Man” Savage, Mr. Perfect, Razor Ramon, Ultimate Warrior & Chris Jericho. Who are your top 5 Intercontinental Champions of all time?