Since its inception in September 1979, the Intercontinental Championship has been held by some of the WWE’s greatest Superstars. From Pat Patterson, The Rock, Ultimate Warrior, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Bret “Hit Man” Hart, Shawn Michaels and Triple H, the Intercontinental Championship was one of the most prestigious titles and a stepping stone to greater things.
The Intercontinental Championship has a history of being tied to great matches as well as often being viewed as a belt awarded to whoever is considered to be the best worker on the roster at a given time.
For some Superstars, winning this coveted title is the pinnacle of their career. For others, it’s just the beginning. As of October 2021, the championship, which is considered the second most major title in WWE, has been been held by 86 different men and one woman. But who are the top five? Lets have a look.
5. The Honky Tonk Man
With his hair perfectly slicked back, his trusty guitar always by him and Jimmy Hart as his manager, The Honky Tonk Man held the Intercontinental Title for 454 days. It’s a record that stands to this day and earned him a spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.
Defeating Ricky Steamboat for the championship in 1987, Honky Tonk Man kept the title for more than a year by any means necessary. He mastered the so-called “Champion’s Advantage,” and used it to great effect, earning the rock ‘n’ roller his place in WWE history.
A performer with the uncanny ability to strike a nerve with fans, his record-setting reign ended at SummerSlam 1988 when The Ultimate Warrior beat him in just 31 seconds to win the title.
4. Ultimate Warrior
Hailing from Parts Unknown, The Ultimate Warrior captured the attention of the WWE Universe with his physique, neon face paint and aggressive ring entrance.
At SummerSlam in 1988, the powerful competitor famously defeated The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship in 30 seconds. In his 2 reigns as the champion, The Ultimate Warrior got close to Hulk Hogan as far as crowd reactions go.
His dominance as champion made him the first Intercontinental Champion to ever headline WrestleMania, where he took on Hulk Hogan in a champion vs champion match. Warrior never actually lost the Intercontinental Championship during his second run, but vacated the title after winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania VI.
3. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
On Feb. 8, 1986, Randy Savage defeated Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Championship, kicking off the greatest reign in the title’s storied history.
Macho Man was the tenth ever Intercontinental Champion. He only held the title once, but managed to keep it for a 414-day reign. As a result, Savage is the third-longest reigning champ. He did that while having to face 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. Their match at WrestleMania III has gone down in history as one of the greatest pro wrestling matches of all time, as the pair meticulously planned out their match and the result was perfectly performed. Even in defeat, Savage was still one of the greatest.
2. Mr. Perfect
In his prime, Mr. Perfect was the pinnacle of a pro wrestler. A flawless technician with a flair for the dramatic, Mr. Perfect is best remembered for his two dominant runs with the Intercontinental Title in the 1990s.
Defeating Tito Santana in a tournament for his first championship, Prefect would go on and battle the legendary likes of The Texas Tornado and Bret “Hit Man” Hart. Perfect’s second reign as champion was even more impressive as he held the title for an amazing 280 days.
With Bobby Heenan by his side, he made the Intercontinental Championship must-see television for both in-ring and out of ring reasons. He gave the Intercontinental Title a new level of credibility during his two reigns. The epitome of a workhorse, he set a higher standard for technical wrestling in WWE when he defended the championship against Bret “Hit Man” Hart at SummerSlam 1991.
The match with Bret Hart is heralded by many as one of the definitive Intercontinental Championship matches in WWE history. Simply perfect.
1. Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho has been Intercontinental Champion for a record nine times! First winning the championship from Chyna in 1999, Jericho went on to defeat everyone from Jeff Hardy to Rob Van Dam. Above all that, his 2001 Royal Rumble ladder match against Chris Benoit for the title is an all-timer great match, considered by many fans to be one of the best ladder matches of all time.
While Jericho might be best known for beating The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night to become the first ever Undisputed WWE Champion, his accomplishments as the Intercontinental Champion simply cannot be ignored.
Jericho can hold the audience in the palm of his hand and effectively used the title to raise his relevance whenever outside of the main event scene. The last of Jericho’s illustrious nine title wins may have been his best, as he defeated Rey Mysterio in an absolute classic of a No Holds Barred match at Extreme Rules 2009.
Whenever someone thinks about the Intercontinental Championship, Chris Jericho is the wrestler who is always linked to it. The Miz is hot on his tail with eight reigns, but only time will tell if his record will ever be broken.