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WWE 1990: A Far From Perfect Year for the Intercontinental Title

Over the past 10 to 15 years, the once prestigious championships of the WWE have become in some cases, nothing more than props on the shoulders of the glorified jobbers. People need not look past the recently de-crowned Intercontinental champion Curtis Axel to realize what I am getting at here. Axel constantly loses more often than not when wrestling on Raw or Smackdown, and although he defended the title a few times since winning it earlier this spring, the defenses are against poorly built up contenders that are thrown in matches to fill up PPV space.

As many wrestling fans know, this wasn’t always the case. There was a time when secondary titles were the “workhorse title” in the case of the IC strap or a gateway to the upper card in the case of the TV title in WCW or the European championship.

When I first started watching wrestling, the Ultimate Warrior was the reigning IC champion, preparing for his Wrestlemania 6 match against WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. As IC Champ, Warrior was usually portrayed as the second face of the company to Hogan.

Now the mistreatment of secondary titles wasn’t an overnight occurrence, more so a long process that was sped up by the Monday Night Wars. During the time when RAW and Nitro were battling it out, the belts were often thrown around like the high school slut in hopes of sparking interest in a character or popping a quarterly rating. But at least during that time and maybe up until about 10 years ago, the titles were defended on almost a weekly basis. It was to seem as if the wrestlers were interested or even DESIRED to be the IC Champion or the US Champion.

Now, those titles are just an object that are carried to the ring and forgotten about for months on end. When is the last time the US Title was defended? I am a huge fan of Dean Ambrose, but having the title on him has not given it any more credibility and I would guess that a majority of fans probably wouldn’t even be able to remember whom Ambrose won the title from (Kofi Kingston).

This is a big change from Wrestlemania 10 when Razor Ramon and HBK faced off in a ladder match for the IC Title, which stole the show. It felt like a big deal, now we’re lucky to see a secondary title defense at the so-called biggest show of the year.

With the way WWE is run, who knows, tomorrow, Vince and HHH could decide they want to rebuild the belts and Ambrose could be going over Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. I doubt it will happen but you never know.

But for now, I wanted to do something to remind wrestling fans that these titles still mean something if we just remember the past. I will be reviewing the histories of each secondary title (including retired ones) since 1990. The reason I chose this year is simply because it is when I first started watching wrestling.

I will look at the titles on a year-to-year basis, reviewing title defenses (television taping matches, PPVs and SNMEs only, barring a rare title change at a house show) and give my opinion of the overall title reigns. So let’s get this  rolling.

1990

#1 – The Ultimate Warrior, won on Aug. 28, 1989 from Rick Rude
The Ultimate Warrior was the reigning IC champion heading into the 1990s. Save a four-month reign by Rick Rude in 1989 (becoming the first man to pin Warrior), he had been a dominant champion since he defeated the Honky Tonk Man in mere seconds at Summerslam 1988. As he was heading into a WWF Title shot at Wrestlemania 6, the IC Title took somewhat of a backseat.

Successful title defenses

Dino Bravo, Jan. 2, 1990 in Birmingham, Alabama
Dino Bravo, Jan. 22, 1990 in Miami, FL
Randy Savage, Jan. 29, 1990 in Ft. Myers, FL (win via count out)
Dino Bravo, Feb. 13, 1990 in Phoenix, AZ
Dino Bravo, Feb. 23, 1990 in Detroit, MI (The Main Event)
Mr. Perfect, Mart. 19, 1990 in New York, NY (MSG show)
Hulk Hogan, Apr. 1, 1990 in Toronto, ON (Wrestlemania 6)

Warrior was clearly being positioned on the same level as Hogan as this time, and a result was easily squashing Bravo in most of their match ups. He also main evented a number of houses shows in an odd tag team with Jake Roberts going against Akeem and Ted Dibiase. He was heading to bigger and better things, namely the WWF Title. While his feud with Hogan elevated him to the top of the company, the IC title was really just an afterthought in the whole thing.
Title reign rating: C

* After Wrestlemania 6, president Jack Tunney stated the IC title was vacant, as Warrior could not hold both titles. A tournament was set up to crown a new champion. On a side note, this tournament sucked in my opinion. I think there was one clean ending, Tito Santana won by count out and the rest were no-contests.

#2 – Mr. Perfect, won on May 19, 1990 by defeating Tito Santana in a tournament final.

Successful title defenses

Hercules, May 27, 1990 in Toronto, ON
Tito Santana, July 28, 1990 in Omaha, NE
Jake Roberts, Aug. 15, 1990 in Utica, NY (lost by DQ)

While I am a fan of Curt Hennig, this title reign was shit. He spent most of the summer feuding with Brutus Beefcake, until a horrific injury ending The Barber’s career for three years. He was called the “perfect IC champion” and had Bobby Heenan as his manager, but it was more than fitting when he lost the title to Kerry Von Erich in about five minutes at Summerslam 1990.
Title reign rating: D

#3 – Kerry Von Erich, won on Aug. 27 from Mr. Perfect in Philadelphia, PA

Successful title defenses

Haku, Sept. 18 in Toldeo, OH

Von Erich hardly defended the title on television, and during their house show feud Perfect beat him more often than not, usually by count out. I really don’t see why they even took the title off Hennig because even though he wasn’t having a great title reign, all Von Erich did was beat jobbers. Von Erich did lose the title under shady conditions, as the Million Dollar Man used his money to buy his way into an opportunity to fuck the Texas Tornado over, although nothing ever really came out it.
Title reign rating: F

#4 – Mr. Perfect, won on Dec. 15 from Kerry Von Erich in Rochester, NY

Successful title defenses

Roddy Piper, Dec. 28, 1990 in New York, NY (MSG show)

Perfect started his second and more successful IC title reign which lasted well into the next year. Because this was so late, I can’t really rate it.

Overall wasn’t a great year for the IC title when it came to title defenses and match quality. While the champions were still treating a big time players on the WWF playing field, there were no quality feuds over the title as in past years such as a Savage vs Steamboat or Warrior vs Rude. It really wasn’t a great year for the federation, as the peak the industry had experienced in the mid to late 1980s was fading and many of the familiar faces of the time were leaving. However, 1991 was just around the corner and things began to look up for the IC Title.

A shout out the awesome History of WWE website for allowing me to find match results in a quick and awesome manner.

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