Once upon a time ago the WWE intercontinental championship< was one of the most prestigious titles in pro wrestling. Some of the greatest Feuds and rivalries in WWE history were for the intercontinental title. So today I celebrate the gold by looking back at the top ten intercontinental champions of all time.
After a lengthy deliberation and a lot of list changes, here is my finalized ten top WWE intercontinental champions of all time.
1- Magnificent Muraco (June 20, 1981-November 23, 1981 January 22, 1983-February 11, 1984, 541 total days). To me, nobody epitomized the intercontinental championship more than the >Magnificent Muraco. All of his title defenses had the same excitement and interest as WWE championship matches. Muraco’s feuds as champion against Pedro Morales, Jimmy Snuka, Rocky Johnson, Tito Santana, and Tony Atlas were some of the most intense rivalries in WWE history. In my opinion, not only is Muraco the greatest intercontinental champion of all time but arguably the greatest WWF heel of that era.
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage (February 8, 1986-March 29, 1987, 414 total days). Savage made the top spot in my first draft but after thinking back and comparing his title reign to Muraco’s, I gave the edge to Muraco. That said, Savage was a heck of an intercontinental champion. His rivalries with Ricky Steamboat, George Steele, and Tito Santana were some of the most fun of that era. The legacy of his rivalry with Steamboat speaks for itself. Watching Savage wrestle as intercontinental champion was like watching a WWE title match. Other than Muraco and Savage, I don’t think I could say that about anyone else on this list.
3 – “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig – (April 23, 1990-August 27, 1990 November 19, 1990-August 26, 1991, 406 total days). Mr. Perfect was a real tough one to slot on this list. I went back and forth about whether he should be in the top five, top three, or even number one. In terms of wrestling rivalries as champion, they didn’t get much better than Hennig’s. His series with Bret Hart is one of the all time greats of that era. The only difference between him and the top two is that I never quite felt as if I was watching a WWE title match when he defended the belt. Otherwise he’d be at the top. Regardless, he is certainly one of the all time greats.
4 – The Honkytonk Man (June 2, 1987-August 29, 1988, 454 total days). The Honkytonk Man is a real tough guy to slot in this list. Personally, I was never a big fan but you cannot deny his success as intercontinental champion. He leads Pedro Morales by 19 days with the longest reign of being intercontinental champion. Quite frankly it is that number that lands him here because he really didn’t have many memorable rivalries as champion other than with Randy Savage.
5 – Pedro Morales (December 8, 1980-June 20, 1981 November 23, 1981-January 22, 1983, 619 total days). I missed out on Pedro’s first reign as champion but was a big fan in the midst of his second reign. The one thing I remember about watching Pedro is just how the fans would go absolutely nuts whenever he would fire up. His rivalry with Don Muraco is arguably the most underrated feud of that time period. His matches weren’t nearly as great as most of the guys on this list, but you can’t knock his 619 total days as champion. If you were to combine title reigns he would hold the record for most days as champion, taking into account both of his title reigns.
6 – Shawn Michaels (October 27, 1992-May 17, 1993 June 6, 1993-September 27, 1993 July 23, 1985-October 22, 1995, 406 total days). What Shawn Michaels did to innovate pro wrestling during his years as intercontinental champion cannot be stated enough. Michaels turned his intercontinental title defenses into WWE title matches like the great champions of the past. Michaels’ rivalries for the title with the British Bulldog, Jeff Jarrett, Razor Ramon, and Marty Jannetty were arguably the best of his era. He would probably be a lot higher if two of his title reigns didn’t end with him vacating the belt.
7 – Tito Santana (February 11, 1984-September 24, 1984 July 6, 1985-February 8, 1986, 443 total days). To me, Tito was one of the most underrated workers of all time. Go back and watch his matches today and you will see some of the most technically sound matches in WWE history. He was just absolutely great in his day and had some fantastic rivalries with Greg Valentine, Don Muraco, and Randy Savage during his reigns, his feud with Valentine being the most memorable. I remember going to the Spectrum during his reigns and the crowd would just go crazy during his matches with Valentine. He was a great worker, fantastic babyface, and heck of a champion.
8 – The Ultimate Warrior (August 29, 1988-April 2, 1989 August 28, 1999-April 1, 1990, 432 total days). You know when I first sat down and did my list he wasn’t even on it. Then I got to thinking and it wouldn’t be fair to leave him off the list with 432 total days as champion. I don’t recall him having many great rivalries as champion other than with Rick Rude. His other intercontinental championship rivalries with Dino Bravo, Mr. Perfect, The Honkytonk Man, & the infamous 30-second or less Andre the Giant matches were nothing to write home about.
9 – Greg Valentine (September 24, 1984-July 6, 1985, 285 days). This pick may a little controversial because on paper, Valentine may not fit the criteria. However, As someone who grew up watching the “Hammer” drop elbows weekly on WWF All Star Wrestling I just couldn’t ignore him. He only had one title reign and there were plenty of other intercontinental champions that had longer total days as champion.
However, he had excellent matches as champion, some with the world title feeling attached to it. Title defenses against Tito Santana, Ricky Steamboat, and the Junkyard Dog all were exciting matches, especially his rivalry with Santana. Finally, when I think of intercontinental title I think of Greg Valentine. In his short reign as champion he made the title feel almost as important as the world championship and that deserves top ten placement in my book (or blog in this case).
10 – “Razor Ramon” Scott Hall (September 27, 1993-April 13, 1994 August 29, 1994-January 22, 1995 May 19, 1995-May 22, 1995 October 22, 1995-January 21, 1996, 438 days). Unlike Valentine, I don’t exactly think Scott Hall when I think of great intercontinental champions. However, he comes in at number five all time in number of days as champion. His rivalry with Shawn Michaels that really put the belt back on the map and may have been the last great intercontinental title feud.
Honorable mention - Chris Jericho (nine title reigns, 318 total days as champion), Jeff Jarrett (six title reigns, 290 days as champion), Bret Hart (two title reigns for 290 days), and The Rock (two reigns, 339 days as champion)