Introduced in 1979, the WWE Intercontinental Championship has been the second greatest prize in the company pretty much upon arrival. Even when the WWE World Championship was split in two, the long history and prestige of the Intercontinental title has remained in tact, with many wrestlers putting their careers on the line for a single opportunity at winning it.
More so than the mere length of time the belt has been around, the WWE Intercontinental Championship is highly respected for the incredible matches that have been wrestled when it was on the line. At many WWE Pay-Per-Views and special events, the Intercontinental Championship match was significantly better than the main event World title bouts, making it the more important piece of gold to many fans.
Ultimately, a wrestler is more likely to make their way to the WWE Hall of Fame by winning World Championships than any minor titles, but that doesn’t mean these smaller steps aren’t integral to a sports entertainment’s career and legacy. Plenty of WWE Hall of Famers have an Intercontinental Championship or two somewhere on their resume, and sometimes it actually was the greatest honor they achieve in their career. Test how much you know about the number two title in WWE by answering whether or not these WWE Hall of Famers ever Intercontinental Champion.
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin
What?! “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, the biggest superstar in WWE history, a six time World Champion who main evented three WrestleMania’s, fighting for the Intercontinental title? Well, obviously, if the Texas Rattlesnake were to make a comeback today, there would only be one piece of gold on his mind, but everyone has to start somewhere. Austin debuted at the bottom and built his way up like everyone else, at one point simply wanting whatever accomplishment he could possibly gain to prove himself in the business.
From the moment Rocky III hit theaters, Hulk Hogan was an international superstar, and no title other than the top prize in whatever company he was working for would suffice. Or would it? Hogan did experience a mostly forgotten earlier run in WWE wrestling as a villain, and an alleged egomaniac like the Hulkster would probably be happy to add just about any piece of gold to his sizeable collection. There’s no question that had Hulk Hogan wanted an Intercontinental Championship run he could have had one, but did he ever have the desire?
By kicking his fellow Rocker and friend Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window, “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels made the statement he was ready to take over WWE all on his own. Eventually, HBK would do just about that, winning the WWE Championship three times en route to his Hall of Fame induction. Before he could do that, though, Michaels became famous by wrestling the best match on the card night after night, wowing fans and stopping the show like only he could. Was the Intercontinental Championship ever on the line when he did it?
André The Giant
Still the most dominant force in wrestling history to this day, André The Giant could hold absolutely whatever title in wrestling he damn well pleased throughout his entire career. The only thing stopping the Giant was his friendly demeanor and traveller’s instinct, rarely looking to challenge heroic champions for their gold or stick around anywhere long enough he’d necessarily get the opportunity anyway. Believe it or not, André only even held the WWE Championship for a matter of seconds. Was André’s luck any better with the Intercontinental gold?
WOOO! Styling and profiling his way through history, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair won his first WWE Championship all of four months after debuting in the company. Of course, he was already a massive star throughout the world by then, having won dozens of World titles in the NWA, eventually adding up to a record total of 16 runs as champion of the world by his retirement. On top of that landmark achievement, Flair won dozens of smaller titles on the road to history. Was the WWE Intercontinental Championship ever one of them?
Listen up, Humanoids. Before anyone goes and tosses this question aside as a freebie, don’t forget that Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was a wrestler before he became a manager, and that includes plenty of matches while working for WWE. It wasn’t all Weasel Suit jokes, either, as The Brain actually racked up a few wins during his tenure in the company. While Heenan’s greatest accomplishments were obviously on the microphone, there had to be a reason all of his high profile clients trusted him. Could an Intercontinental Championship run have had something to do with it?
"Macho Man" Randy Savage
Ooooooh yeeeeaaaaah! Hot dogging and grand standing everywhere he goes through his mere existence, “Macho Man” Randy Savage will forever be amongst the most flamboyant and charismatic WWE superstars in history. What set Savage apart from the many boastful braggarts in wrestling is that he could more than back it up in the ring, always delivering fans the best match he could possibly make with a given opponent. Savage won six World Championships throughout his career plus a number of other great accomplishments cementing his legacy. Was the Intercontinental Championship one of them?
HOOOOO! USA! USA! *ahem* You’ll have to excuse us; the bizarre wave of patriotism felt by wrestling fans whenever the name “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is uttered simply can’t be ignored. Wild and unkempt in a manner that once made him a bad guy, by waving around an American flag and carrying a wooden 2x4 for no particular reason somehow made Duggan one of the most popular stars of his era. Duggan’s Hall of Fame induction was more than earned on his connection with the fans alone, but a little bit of gold naturally could have sweetened the pot. Did it?
More than just a wrestler, Pat Patterson was been considered one of Vince McMahon’s right-hand men behind the scenes for nearly four decades now. There have been a few periods when the two were on the outs, yet McMahon always came back to Patterson for his unmatched creativity and genius in booking great storylines and perfectly plotted matches. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Patterson honed this craft by himself performing in the ring for decades, and talent like his was naturally rewarded with plenty of gold. Does that include the Intercontinental Championship?
Though the end of his life was marred in controversy, the popularity of “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka throughout the 1980s cannot be ignored. Outside of champions like Hulk Hogan and Bob Backlund, there were few who could challenge the response Snuka got out of the crowd by leaping off steel cages with his trademark Superfly Splash. It was enough to make him the corner man during the main event of the first WrestleMania, and Snuka’s fame hasn’t fully faded despite his legal issues. Did the Intercontinental Championship have anything to do with his legacy?
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper
Wild, fast, and out of control, sports entertainment has still never seen another wrestler quite like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Whether playing a good guy or a villain, Piper’s strongest quality was his boundless energy, able to rip people apart on the microphone the same time he was doing so with his fists. Depending on who Piper focused this energy on, fans either loved him or hated him, but either way they wanted to see a whole lot more of him and learn what crazy antics he’d get into next. Was the Intercontinental Championship ever part a focus of Piper’s madness?
The various pukes and maggots of pro wrestling were always on guard whenever Sgt. Slaughter made his presence known in the WWE Universe, be it as a wrestler or the company’s Commissioner during the Attitude Era. Slaughter’s tough drill sergeant demeanor made the man a force to be reckoned with at any point in his career, always ready to teach his subordinates a lesson in respecting authority. Infamously, Slaughter had to turn his back on America to win the WWE Championship, but did he ever win the Intercontinental Championship?
Calm and grandfatherly in his speaking style, Gorilla Monsoon is one of the most iconic play-by-play announcers in WWE history. In stark contrast to this persona behind the commentary desk, Monsoon was once a feared, monstrous athlete inside the ring, taking his ring name more literally and acting like a fierce animal. Monsoon was such a force of nature he attracted the attention of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, one of The Greatest’s few appearances in sports entertainment. Did he win the Intercontinental Championship, too?
The Iron Sheik
Proudly representing his home town of Tehran, Iran to the very end, The Iron Sheik was the first man of Middle Eastern descent to win the WWE Championship. Granted, he would ultimately go down in history as the most famous transitional champion in company history, merely serving a link between the longer reigns of Bob Backlund and Hulk Hogan. That said, Sheiky Baby’s legacy was firmly in tact before he even won that title, having wrestled to great acclaim in WWE, AWA, NWA, and several other promotions before then. Was the Intercontinental Championship also part of his legacy?
When a person calls himself the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be, he’s making a pretty grand claim that’s hard to back up with any sort of actual facts. What makes Bret “The Hitman” Hart so special is that not only has he made such a statement hundreds of times, but he is one of the rare few who indeed can back it up. Hart won five WWE Championships and plenty of other smaller titles before then that helped him gain a reputation as the Excellence of Execution.
As the father of perhaps the most famous wrestler of the modern era, the accomplishments “Soulman” Rocky Johnson sometimes get overlooked. With all due respect, nothing Johnson achieved comes anywhere near the success of his son The Rock, though this hardly means he was a complete slouch in the ring. Not unlike his son, Johnson was a wildly popular and charismatic performer wherever he went, earning him thousands and thousands of fans, if not quite millions and millions. Johnson also won his fair share of gold along the way. Was the Intercontinental Championship one of the belts he wore?
They say pimpin’ ain’t easy, but sometimes it’s necessary, and that apparently applies to the WWE Universe. For all the criticism people gave to WWE for inducting The Godfather into the Hall of Fame, let’s not forget the man was an incredibly beloved performer during the Attitude Era, with fans worldwide able to recite his lengthy catchphrases from beginning to end. Notwithstanding the fact half of those catchphrases would get bleeped out today, fans still remember them. Godfather also had some decent success in the ring to go along with the bon mots. Was the Intercontinental Championship one of them?
Koko B. Ware
The moment it was announced Koko B. Ware was slotted to become a WWE Hall of Famer, longtime fans of the company were decrying his induction nearly invalidated the whole institution. In hindsight, reactions like this were a bit overwrought to say the least, yet there’s still a point in the fact Ware didn’t quite have a Hall of Fame worthy career, on paper. That said, he did win a handful of championships in his day that some fans have forgotten about, either because he didn’t hold them for long or not much happened in the time he did.
A wonderful talent in every sense of the word, Paul Orndorff had no problem using it as his nickname for several decades. Rebranded Mr. Wonderful, he infuriated fans with his ego while also impressing them inside the ring with high caliber matches and powerfully emotional angles. Orndorff’s peak moment likely came during his feuds against Hulk Hogan, wrestling matches for the WWE Championship and winding up in the main event of WrestleMania I. While Orndorff never won that particular title, he did pick up dozens of others throughout his career. Was the Intercontinental Championship amongst them?
Exuding an unflappable confidence that made him solid as a rock, Don Muraco was one of the most hated villains in WWE during his time in the ring. More than just a loud jerk, Muraco’s most unforgettable quality was the disrespect he would show opponents he found beneath him, nonchalantly scarfing down donuts during interviews and once even eating a sandwich during a match he nonetheless handily won. This sort of behavior can only get a man so far unless he happens to be supremely talented. Was Muraco good enough to nab an Intercontinental Championship while still just joking around?
Already so respected upon his arrival to the WWE Universe that he was dubbed a King almost instantly, Harley Race was one of the most dominant athletes of his era. Granted, most of Race’s time conquering the wrestling world was spent in the NWA, where he became a seven time World Champion. Many insiders have long claimed Race was already on a downslide when he came to WWE, but he still found a decent amount of success in the ring, as should have been expected. Was the Intercontinental Championship included in his accolades?
More than a mere man, Ricky Steamboat is known throughout the wrestling world as the one and only Dragon. To Vince McMahon, this means literally carrying around lizards and breathing fire, but to most fans the term Dragon relates to Steamboat’s unbeatable intensity inside the ring, with a winking hint at his propensity for tossing his foes around the ring with arm drags. Steamboat’s second-to-none skills earned him a great deal of gold in the NWA, yet McMahon was a little more hesitant to treat him like a star. Did Steamboat somehow get an Intercontinental Championship reign anyway?
Only a rare breed of performer can live up to a name like Mr. Perfect, and lucky for Curt Hennig, he happens to be amongst them. Already a former AWA World Champion when he debuted in WWE with his new name, Mr. Perfect seemed on the fast track for greatness immediately upon arrival. Few athletes could come anywhere near Perfect’s prowess in the ring, let alone on the football field, baseball field, or whatever other athletic endeavor he attempted. With skills like these, the Intercontinental Championship sounds like a perfect fit for Hennig…was it?
Viva la raza! Despite a reputation for lying, cheating, and stealing, in the end, all “Latino Heat” Eddie Guerrero stole was the hearts of millions of fans around the world. No matter what Eddie did, audiences felt a uniquely real connection to the man due to his lighthearted, fun loving attitude, always wearing a smile on his face no matter how dire his circumstances seemed. Guerrero took this popularity all the way to a WWE Championship reign, but there was plenty more where that came from before he reached that height. Was the Intercontinental Championship included?
A hero to some and a Howdy Doody goofball to others, Bob Backlund was one of the most dominant WWE Champions in history no matter how you choose to look at it. While he wasn’t much on the microphone, and his boyish personality made the farmyard puppet comparisons fairly apt, Backlund was a force to be reckoned with every time the bell rang. Five years as champion of the world was enough to cement his legacy and then some, but Backlund wasn’t done there. Did he also win the WWE Intercontinental Championship later in his career?
Everybody has a price, making it extremely easy for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase to always get his way. That said, the one thing DiBiase always wanted was the WWE Championship, and somehow it always managed to elude the grasp of his wealthy influence. To combat this problem, DiBiase invented his own Million Dollar championship, but that wouldn’t be the only WWE sanction gold he wore around his waist. Did he win the WWE Intercontinental Championship, too...or maybe buy his way to the gold?
Starting his career as a tag team performer with his brother in Harlem Heat, it was clear Booker T was the natural talent in his family from day one. Once Booker ditched his brother Stevie Ray and went solo, this idea was made an absolutely certainty no less than five times, five times, five times, five times, five times, the number of WCW Championships Booker T has to his name. Booker would of course go on to earn plenty of gold in the WWE Universe, as well: was the Intercontinental Championship part of it?
The Ultimate Warrior
Possessing an energy some would call out of this world, or at least something from parts unknown, the world of sports entertainment has never seen anyone like the Ultimate Warrior before or since his time in the ring. The Warrior’s unmatched destrucity made him an unstoppable force, barreling down any competition that dared stood in his way and doing so in no time flat. Warrior would eventually win the Ultimate Challenge that was the WWE Championship, but did he win any other gold before then?
Capitalizing on opportunity wherever he saw it, the Rated R Superstar Edge would naturally want any championship gold WWE had to offer. His greatest achievement was likely winning the WWE Championship by cashing in the first ever Money in the Bank contract, though there was an incredible amount of title belts in his life before then already. Edge first broke through in the tag team division with Christian, and once the two broke up, the sky was the limit for both men. Did this include the Intercontinental Championship for Edge?
First and foremost, Mick Foley is a hardcore legend, and that’s whether one calls him by his real name, Dude Love, Cactus Jack, Mankind, or whatever other head case persona he happens to be going by at the time. Of course, the destruction required to truly earn that sort of title is nothing to scoff at, and Foley has used his prowess in hardcore to win dozens of major wrestling championships. This included three WWE Championships and several smaller ones along the way. Was one the Intercontinental gold?
Though his familial connections had him heralded as a Prince during his debut, Rikishi soon dropped that aspect of his character and turned into a bad, bad man in his own right. The rise to solo success for him was long, slow, and not without complications along the way. Rikishi achieved a number of titles in the tag ranks as one of the Headshrinkers, but he would have more trouble asserting himself on his own. Once Rikishi found his niche as a dancer, he made plenty of fans, but did he start winning gold, as well?
Never trust a snake, unless all you want is an incredibly well planned wrestling match, in which case Jake Roberts is exactly the person to go to. People have long considered Roberts the greatest wrestler to never win a World Championship, citing his legendary performances on the microphone and mastery of ring psychology as the signs he deserved much more than any promoter would give him. This doesn’t mean Roberts was a complete slouch, however, as there were at least a few titles along the way—was the Intercontinental Championship one of them?
Big Boss Man
Not everyone respects law and order, especially in the ruthless and violent world that is the WWE Universe. Naturally, the Big Boss Man never stood for this sort of nonsense, ensuring all activities conducted in the ring were done in a legal manner. Unless, of course, he himself got particularly mad, in which case the idea of justice became far more important than anything his badge represented. Wrestling gold was more important to Boss Man than any fictional shield anyway. Could Boss Man retroactively justify his actions with an Intercontinental Championship?
Boasting unmatched intensity, integrity, and intelligence from the day he first stepped into a WWE ring, not to mention a history as an Olympic freaking medalist, Kurt Angle had a pretty high opinion of himself, albeit one that was entirely deserved. Angle’s reputation would only grow from his originals as an American hero, climbing to the top of WWE with six World Championships to his name. Despite his top tier accomplishments, Angle accepted the fact he had to start at the bottom of WWE and work his way up. Did this include winning the Intercontinental Championship?
Simply ravishing in both his physical appearance and wrestling skills, Rick Rude was an absolute expert at getting people to hate his guts. All he had to ask the sweat hogs in the audience to do was shut their mouths while he removed his robe, and the entire arena would be in a furious rage directed at the mustachioed man strutting his stuff. Except for the women who adored him, that is. For the most part, Rude was bragging about his abs, but did he ever wear the Intercontinental Championship beneath his robe, as well?