Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wrestlemania Rankings - The Intercontinental Title

Welcome back as I once more continue my Wrestlemania Rankings. In honour of Rey Mysterio's challenge to JBL, this time we will be focusing on the best of the Intercontinental Title Matches of Wrestlemania's yore. Sadly, this once prestigious title that has brought us some of the great matches underlined, but hasn't been showcased at the Grandest Stage of them All in the past six events! Thankfully that streak will end, in what should be a good match between two wrestlers who have a long and storied history with one another.

This will be the 17th Wrestlemania Intercontinental Title Match ever, and the other 16 rank as follows...


Rocky Miavia (c) vs. The Sultan

Wretlemania 13
Rosemont Horizon, Chicago, IL

Certainly not the most glamourous Wrestlemania debut for a man who would go on to be one of the greatest of all-time. Rocky Miavia (not yet Dwayne Johnson, not yet The Rock) would have a very boring 9 minute encounter. While that is certainly forgiveable, the truly insulting part is the aftermath. After Rocky gets a fluke roll-up to win, The Sultan's managers, Bob Backland and Iron Shiek join in for a 3-on-1 beat-down of the champion, only for Rocky's father, Rocky Johnson, to run down to make the save for his son. Simply a horrible way to get your good young face over, by having him need the help of his retired father. Thumbs down all around.

Randy Savage (c) vs. George "The Animal" Steele
Wrestlemania 2
Nassau Colliseum
Long Island, NY

Much like the previous entry, this was hardly the Wrestlemania debut for one of the greatest performers that the business has ever seen. Savage would later be renown as a man who could get a good match out of anyone (See: Warrior, Ultimate), but it did not work on this night. George Steele was far too worn out at this point, and did not bring enough to the table here, and Savage just phoned this one in. Certainly not a great follow up match to what I consider to be the worst opener in the card's history.

Four Way Elimination Match
Road Dogg (c) vs. Golddust vs. Ken Shamrock vs. Val Venis

Wrestlemania XV
First Union Center
Philadelphia, PA

Storyline wise this really made no sense. Up to about two weeks before this show, Val Venis, Billy Gunn, and Golddust all expressed interest in Ken Shamrock's on-screen sister, Ryan (including Venis's brilliant movie title: Saving Ryan's Privates), so Shamrock logically wanted to defend her honour against his three foes. Meanwhile, Shamrock lost his IC Title to Val Venis, so a four-way match was set. However, just before the show, Road Dogg (scheduled to compete with Hardcore Holly and Al Snow for the Hardcore Title) challenged Val Venis on his partner's behalf, and Gunn challenged Snow for Dogg. Both of the outlaws won the titles that their friends were chasing, so they switched places. This effectively killed any momentum that either feud were building since some of the principal characters were switched. The Hardcore Title Match was able to be saved by the amount of plunder involved, but this one was a different story.

This match was too short for anyone to tell their story, and the double count-out elimination of Shamrock and Venis had no place on an event titled "The Ragin' Climax" and the Road Dogg's cheap roll-up win was essentially meaningless. Couple this with the fact that Golddust won the title in a one-on-one encounter the very next night, and it really made this match seem both pointless and insulting.

Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (c) vs. The Junk Yard Dog

Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

The first Wrestlemania really is the hardest to asses these days, so I often feel harsh ranking anything about it so low. That being said though, there are a lot of matches on there that simply did not entertain me, including this one. I think that JYD was just too old, and Valentine was too beat up to make anything special here. Also, add the fact JYD won by count-out really hurt the match. I understand wanting to give him a big win, but it really did not add to any finality of the WWF's first supercard.

The Rock (c) vs. Ken Shamrock

Wrestlemania XIV
Fleet Center
Boston, MA

Odd that this is the second match to feature The Rock, a performer who I am quite fond of, performing in a match that I consider rather bland. Also, oddly, on my other list I gave the opening match of Wrestlemania XIV a low ranking, just as I am giving this one a low ranking, but it is an event that I consider to be a great one.

Anyway, this match was rather dull, and did not serve as a closer to this very long running feud, which should have logically ended with a Shamrock title win at the big event. Instead, we got a match that looked like it was going to be a squash for Shamrock (since he had never really gotten The Rock in a one-on-one encounter, due to interference from The Nation), but Shamrock refused to let go of the ankle-lock so the decision was reversed. So this match was too short, The Rock hardly got in any offense, and resolved nothing. Yeah that's enough for me to dislike this one.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is more or less when the list takes a jump from "offensive" to "bland")

The Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake

Wrestlemania IV
Trump Plaza
Atlantic City, NJ

Due to the tournament going on this very night, the list of credible champions for The Honky Tonk Man was rather short, so they can be forgiven for choosing Beefacke here. Beefcake was a suitable challenger here to be someone that people thought might defeat Honky in the middle of his legendary reign. This is a great example of why Honky Tonk's title run was so great, he legitimately made you believe that anyone could defeat him and end his title run at any time, only to find someway (usually a DQ, such as this night) to prolong it. While I lament other lame DQ endings, with The Honky Tonk Man it just worked. That being said this match really isn't all that great leading up to the finish.

Mr. Perfect (c) vs. Big Boss Man

Wrestlemania VII
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
Los Angeles, CA

Another example of a match that should have ended with a clean, and decisive win for the face. The Big Boss Man was on a tear through the Heenan family, after the Brain repeatedly mocked Boss Man's mother. The logical climax of that would be to take out Heenan's prize client, Intercontinental Champion, Mr. Perfect. After a great back and forth match, that really made Boss Man look like a million bucks, in one of the best matches of the big man's career. As the Boss Man looked to approach victory, Haku and the Barbarian run in to cause a lame disqualification.

Fun little match, but (as many on this list) bad ending.

Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Tatanka
Wrestlemania IX
Ceaser's Palace
Las Vegas, NV

The first of three matches to appear on this list as well as my previous one. As I said last time "He put on a great showcase with the then-undefeated Tatanka. However, the match was marred by a boring disqualification finish", which appears to be a common theme here.

Intercontinental Title Match:
William Regal (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
Wrestlemania X8
Toronto, Ontario

Bizarrely this match was also #9 on the other list. What are the odds, really? Not much else to add to this one, it was good, but they never really seemed to click as they really should have. However, credit must be given for putting forward an actual finish, unlike many of the other matches on this list.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Here's were they start to get good)

Jeff Jarrett (c) vs. Razor Ramon

Wrestlemania XI
Hartford Civic Center
Hartford, CT

When I was compiling this list, I was simply amazed by the amount of lame non-finishes there were. But this really was the best of the 6 dq/count-out finishes here. These two had a very good chemistry with one another, and this was shaping up to be a really good one, but yet again, the lame finish took it down a notch. Had these two had a pin-fall victory for one or the other and this could have been vaulted up at least two spots on the list.

Chris Jericho (c) vs. William Regal

Wrestlemania X-Seven
Houston, TX

The third and final match that I mentioned in my last list. Not much else to say that I didn't say yesterday, good match but too short to be truly great.

The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Ric Rude

Wrestlemania V
Trump Plaza
Atlantic City, NJ

Heading into this match, it seemed like the still undefeated Warrior would get another victory, however, in a huge shock, the Ultimate One lost his belt to the cocky Rick Rude. This was easily the best match of Warrior's career to date, and the first of his back-to-back-to-back amazing Wrestlemania performances.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Here is where they jump from good, to down right legendary, and is easily the biggest leap on the list)

Two-fall, Two Title Match
Kurt Angle (c) vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

Wrestlemania 2000
Arrowhead Pond
Anaheim, CA

The Wrestlemania debut for three men who would later go on to all compete in the Main Event in three consecutives years. The storyline going into it was that Kurt Angle held both the European and Intercontinental titles (calling himself the Eurocontinental Champion). It was decided that he would defend both of these titles against Benoit and Jericho in a two-fall match, with the first fall being for the Intercontinental title, and the second for the European gold. This match was really ahead of it's time, as all three men came up with all sorts of innovative spots in what was probably the best triple-threat match up to that point. Benoit pinned Jericho, and then Jericho pinned Benoit to make Angle loose both of his belts without taking either fall. Pure brilliance

Title vs. Title
Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Wrestlemania VI
Toronto, Ontario

While it is easy to forget, this match was technically for the Intercontinental Title so deserves to be mentioned here. This match really was a classic and was better than it had any right to be. Both men worked hard and really surpassed so many of their other matches. In the very first pre-Wrestlemania post I ever made, my friend Kory stated very clearly: "The crowd was absolutely amazing. From the entrances to the final bell they went crazy for every move. One can sum up the match as a series of clothelines, body slams, and shoulder blocks. Add to that the no-sells (hulking up and calling upon the gods) and you have the match pretty much covered."

Hard to argue with that my friend. Speaking of that post, the next match on the list was mentioned in the same post...

"Rowdy" Roddy Piper (c) vs. Bret "The Hitman" Hart
Wrestlemania VIII
Hoosier Dome
Indianapolis, IL

One of my all-time favourite matches, as evidenced by its high ranking. The match started out like it was going to be a show-down of two friends, but turned into a bloody encounter with both men trying their all to win, and both being too proud to lose. The highlight of the match was when Piper had the ring bell and was set to nail Hart with it, but let his conscious get in the way, and decided not to resort to his heelish ways, something that Eddie Guerrero and Shawn Michaels would do later on. Speaking of the future, this match would end with Hart countering a sleeperhold by running the ropes and getting a pin for victory, a move he would later use on Steve Austin in their epic feud.

But this match was great, not only for the in-ring action, but the story that they told, and the history that it created.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The next two really need to introduction, if you have followed wrestling at all, you would have these two placed one and two on your list of best Intercontinental Title match of all-time, and probably near the top of any of your favourite matches of all time, as great as the last three have been, one and two were never in doubt. That being said, I felt that a tie was inappropriate so I made what I feel to be the right decision)

Ladder Match
Razor Ramon (c) vs. Shawn Michaels
Wrestlemania X
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

Simply a fabulous match. While it was not the first ladder match, as it has often been citied, it really revolutionized the concept. While Shawn gets the credit for making this match amazing, and rightfully so, Ramon's efforts really are nothing to shake a stick at. Both men deserve all the credit in the world for using that ladder in ways that nobody had ever thought of. While it is tame compared to some later ladder matches, it still tells a great story, and includes some very entertaining parts.

Randy Savage (c) vs. Ricky Steamboat

Wrestlemania III
Pontiac Silver Dome
Detroit, MI

Mix two incredibly talented performers at the peak of their career, a simple yet emotional storyline, and the largest crowd in North American sports history, and you will get the closest you can come to perfection inside a ring. This fast paced, hate-fueled match really is something special to behold, and deserves it's rightful place at the top. There are times when roll-ups seem cheap and contrived, but then there are moments like this when it is absolutely perfect. These two were matched so equally that the only logical ending was for Steamboat to be just three seconds better than Savage.

That being said, there really is one glaring flaw with this match.

There never was a rematch.


While I doubt that JBL-Mysterio is going to crack the Top 5, it certainly has the potential to rank high on this list. Like everything else, we'll have to wait until April 4th to find out.

Until next time,


Achieved Posts:

The Openers
The Intercontinental Title
The Tag Team Titles
Extreme Rules
Women's Matches
The Dead Man
The Showstopper
The Main Events


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