Tuesday, April 23

WWE Intercontinental Champions Who Didn’t Elevate The Title

The Intercontinental Championship has a very rich history in WWE, dating back to 1979 when Pat Patterson was crowned as the very first titleholder. Over the several decades since, the belt has seen some ups and downs, but one thing is for sure and that is the title has seen some truly great champions who have elevated the championship.


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However, there is a flip side to that. There are some Intercontinental Champions who did not serve to benefit the title, even if they were actually talented performers. Whether it be due to the wrestler themselves or the booking by WWE, there are quite a few names who didn’t raise the value of the Intercontinental Title.


Apollo Crews’ Reign As Intercontinental Champion Was Bland

Even A New Gimmick Couldn’t Change Crews’ Fortunes


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

April 11, 2021 (WWE WrestleMania 37)

123

5


In the lead up to WrestleMania 37, Apollo Crews was handed a new gimmick which was going pretty well, and it led to him winning the Intercontinental Championship. However, WWE decided to put much less attention on him for whatever reason.


The Intercontinental Title was then a complete afterthought, as both the title and Crews felt like they were playing second fiddle to almost everything else on SmackDown at the time. Crews might have fit the bill for a workhorse champion with his in-ring ability, but his defenses were few and far between and he lost a load of non-title matches too.

Ezekiel Jackson Was Not Up To Scratch For The Intercontinental Title

Jackson Was Another Failed Big Man


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

June 19, 2011 (WWE Capitol Punishment)

54

2


After leaving The Corre faction, WWE attempted to make Ezekiel Jackson the next big muscular babyface. However, he just didn’t connect with fans and his abilities across the board were lacking.


Jackson might’ve had a good look, but that was about it, and the Intercontinental Championship couldn’t have felt less important around his waist. He did absolutely zero to elevate the title, and his short feuds with Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes only exposed how much worse he was than his opponents.

Rikishi’s Singles Push As Intercontinental Champion Did Not Work

WWE Wanted Rikishi To Be A Star


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

June 20, 2000 (WWE SmackDown)

14

2


In 2000, WWE decided to push Rikishi as a solo star, and with that came an Intercontinental Title win which failed to elevate the title in the slightest. At the time, the belt suffered from many short and pointless reigns which didn’t do any favors to the title, and this was one of those short reigns.


Despite WWE’s wishes, Rikishi wasn’t someone who would win the midcard title and then go on to the main event to find even more success, as his run as a world title contender also ended miserably.

Curtis Axel Failed To Emulate His Father’s Success As Intercontinental Champion

Axel’s Time As Champion Was One To Forget


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

June 16, 2013 (WWE Payback)

156

8


WWE tried to push Curtis Axel in 2013, but his time as Intercontinental Champion ended up being a waste of time, and it paled in comparison to his father’s time with the gold back in the early 1990s.

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Axel played sidekick to Paul Heyman and was a punching bag in feuds. He lost non-title matches, hardly had any feuds, and the Intercontinental Championship was not elevated in the slightest around his waist.

JBL’s Intercontinental Championship Win Was Mediocre

JBL Won The Gold Late In His Career


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

March 9, 2009 (WWE RAW)

27

0


Despite his past as a World Champion and a Hall Of Fame career, JBL’s Intercontinental Championship win in 2009 did not benefit the gold in the slightest. JBL was less than a month away from retirement, so to put the belt on him and take it off someone much younger and full of potential like CM Punk felt like a mistake.


This run with the belt was pretty forgettable aside from the moment where he lost the title at WrestleMania and went on to retire straight after.

Braun Strowman Did Not Fit The Bill As An Intercontinental Champion

Strowman’s Win Felt Like A Consolation


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

January 21, 2020 (WWE SmackDown)

36

0


After WWE screwed up Braun Strowman’s world title pursuits time and time again, he was strapped up with the Intercontinental Championship in what felt like a runner-up prize after being overlooked as a world champion.


Strowman didn’t do anything notable with the belt, his defenses weren’t of a high quality, and he ended up losing it in a handicap match which made the title feel unimportant too. Given the title’s reputation as a workhorse championship, Strowman didn’t fit as IC Champion.

Albert’s Reign Did Not Elevate The Intercontinental Championship

The Intercontinental Title Did Not Feel Important Around His Waist


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

June 26, 2001 (WWE SmackDown)

25

5


Albert’s character was not one prominent enough to earn a reign as Intercontinental Champion, even if it only lasted for around a month.


This was the time when many wrestlers had short reigns with the gold, so for the likes of Albert to win it ended up devaluing the championship around this time, as several underwhelming wrestlers got their hands on the iconic title.

Ryback’s Time As Intercontinental Champion Was Pointless

Ryback’s Potential Had Diminished By This Point


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

May 31, 2015 (WWE Elimination Chamber)

112

3


At the 2015 Elimination Chamber event, Ryback was finally crowned with a singles title despite no longer looking like a potential top star. He won the vacant Intercontinental Championship in a horrifically bad match, and went on to have a reign that felt pretty pointless. The IC Title was feeling incredibly dull around this time with tired acts like The Miz and Big Show challenging Ryback.


It was a blessing when Kevin Owens dethroned Ryback after a few months, ending what felt like a pretty pointless reign when all was said and done.

Marc Mero Was A Failed Project As Intercontinental Champion

Mero Didn’t Garner Many Reactions From WWE Fans


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

September 23, 1996 (WWE RAW)

28

1


Getting overshadowed by Sable ended up being the nail in the coffin for Marc Mero in WWE, who felt less and less like a potential star as time passed. Even getting crowned as Intercontinental Champion did absolutely nothing for him, and in turn he did nothing for the title either.

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It ended up just being a short one month reign anyway, but it would have been better for the title had this reign not even happened. Things drastically improved for the prestige of the belt when Triple H won it off him.

Shinsuke Nakamura & The Intercontinental Title Were Cursed

Nakamura’s Reigns Were Horrendous


Date Won

Days Held

Number Of Successful Televised Defenses

July 14, 2019 (WWE Extreme Rules Kickoff)

201

2

August 13, 2021 (WWE SmackDown)

189

2


Shinsuke Nakamura had two reigns as Intercontinental Champion, and both of those reigns were pretty terrible. He would sometimes go months without being on TV, his defenses came few and far between, and despite a lengthy run, the belt had never felt less important in truth.


Despite its lineage, the IC Championship around the waist of Nakamura was a complete afterthought and its prestige was at arguably an all time low. Nakamura even played second fiddle in a tag team with Rick Boogs during his time as champion.

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