Can The WWE Intercontinental Title Be Saved?



intercontinental-championship

This Sunday at Extreme Rules, Big E defends his Intercontinental championship against Bad News Barrett. Barrett is no stranger to the title as he’s held it three times before, each run less memorable than the one prior. Personally, it’s just nice to see Barrett back in the ring wrestling after months of badly scripted comedy and podium prognostications. I actually expect him to take the title in New Jersey, much the same way he did a year ago in that very same building the night after WrestleMania. Who knows, maybe he can even help pump some life back into it.

It’s when I say that last part out loud that I have trouble keeping a straight face.

It’s hardly Big E’s fault, or really anyone who’s ever held the title before. They’re all at the mercy of Vince McMahon or Triple H or Michael Hayes or any number of writers responsible for much of what we see on WWE television each week. Without their support, there’s only so much that can be done. Which is why, given the history of how the title has been treated over the last decade or so, I was surprised when a handful of my podcast listeners took exception to my “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude when the Intercontinental title tournament first started. Was I wrong to not have faith that they may finally be putting an emphasis back on this once “prestigious” honor? Had I become so jaded that I could no longer give them credit where credit was deserved?

Not exactly. I think I’m perfectly justified to feel that why and here’s why.

Rarely has the Intercontinental title meant less than it does right now. It wasn’t always that way. In fact, there was a time when that title (or prop, as Vince Russo once called it) meant enough that you could headline a live event, TV show or pay-per-view with it and nobody would bat an eyelash. My very first live wrestling experience came when I was five years-old in Madison Square Garden watching an event headlined by “Macho Man” Randy Savage and The Honky Tonk Man for the IC title, with Jimmy Hart suspended above the ring in a shark cage. Fast forward five years to Summerslam at Wembley Stadium where Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith headlined for that same title before 80,000 fans. That may seem like a lifetime ago in wrestling, but consider this: the Intercontinental title once went five years without being defended at a WrestleMania (19-24), part of which came during a time where the title had effectively been retired. Growing up on champions like Savage, Rude, Perfect and Michaels, it’s almost unfathomable to me that something like that could happen. And it’s frustrating because it doesn’t have to be that way.

There are a ton of kids growing up as fans right now, as I once did, who have no real concept of how important these secondary titles used to be. They once served as a stepping stone for future Hall of Famers, from The Ultimate Warrior to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, on their ascent to greatness and it was fun to watch those guys fight for those belts like they were the most important thing in the world. When you create that illusion, the fans tend to play along and buy into it right along with you.

So, what can be done?

It really wouldn’t take much effort to rehab the Intercontinental title. Time, yes, but not effort. They’ve already taken one small step with the recent tournament to establish a new #1 contender. It means a hell of a lot more when you stretch things out over the course of several weeks rather than throw a bunch of guys into a random match on Raw. Having Justin Roberts wait to do ring introductions until the participants are already in the ring is a neat little trick they already employ for the WWE championship matches and goes a long way toward making these bouts feel more special.

Two other things to consider that could, and should, be to the benefit of the IC title are the unification of the two World titles at TLC last year, and the comical lack of United States championship defenses since Dean Ambrose beat Kofi Kingston for the belt last May at Extreme Rules. With there now being one singular WWE World Heavyweight Champion, in theory, there should be a greater emphasis placed upon the other titles. That hasn’t really been the case thus far, as evidenced by yet another WrestleMania having come and gone without either one being defended, but they have time to correct this. As for Ambrose and his blatant disregard for the “30 day rule” (I’m kidding, sort of), for all intents and purposes, the IC strap is really the only secondary title being defended right now, so it has the spotlight all to itself.

Which brings me to the next bold step WWE should take, and it’s something that should have been done a long time ago – unifying the Intercontinental and United States championships. There really is no need for two belts if each is barely defended as it is, so why not build to a champion vs. champion match at an upcoming pay-per-view (or is it “special event” now?) and merge the two to crown one singular Intercontinental champion? I’m a big believer in the philosophy of “less is more” when it comes to titles.

Above all else, consistency is key. It’s that lack of consistency that has doomed Big E’s reign as champion to this point. He started strong, then went through a period where he was barely even on television. More recently, Alberto Del Rio scored not one, but two pinfall wins in non-title matches over the champion prior to WrestleMania. That would certainly seem to qualify him for a title shot, yet that shot never came. Where was Del Rio’s fiery promo mentioning this? As a fan, I want to know that these things matter because if they matter to WWE, they matter to me. Otherwise, it’s a wasted effort. If that means creating a ranking system for all titles, including the Intercontinental, that fans can follow along with and that list, say, the top five contenders for each, then so be it. I’m all for anything fun that keeps the fans engaged, yet carries real consequences as these stories play out on TV each week. Just get the champion on TV consistently and make matches that make sense.

I’ll be pulling for Bad News on Sunday. If he leaves the Izod Center victorious, here’s hoping his win actually brings good news for the future of the Intercontinental title.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

About Jason Solomon: Jason Solomon has been host of the “Solomonster Sounds Off” wrestling podcast since 2007, which can be heard weekly on TheSolomonster.com, Stitcher Radio and iTunes! Follow him on Twitter @solomonster.


  • Rob S.

    As a longtime fan of your podcast, it is good to see that you are doing articles here (especially on a site where Disqus makes commenting a lot easier). Anyway, I do agree that there is something to be salvaged in regards to the Intercontinental Title but I have little faith in WWE to make it happen. They treat the title almost like the redheaded stepchild of the championships, though I guess it’s better than the US Title which isn’t much more than a trophy at this point. I do agree that consistency is vital and the sad thing is that it isn’t that hard to accomplish. Just have the champion have a bunch of stellar matches and strong defenses against others. The matches should not only be lengthy but competitive to the point where you say, “Oh man, the challenger can actually win here.” Yes, the IC Title can be saved but it’s going to take a lot of work on WWE’s part. Great work, Jason!

    • Solomonster

      Thanks, Rob. It can be done, and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of their primary title. I just think they lose interest in these things.

      • Rob S.

        They do and it impacts the midcard so much. Granted we are seeing something of a resurgence as far as that is concerned, especially with talents like Barrett and Cesaro picking up a lot steam. Will WWE allow them to sustain that momentum? They have the talent but WWE has to meet them halfway too.

  • theripperdannyb

    I agree, to an extent, they need to work on making the IC title mean more, but that doesnt mean they have to lose the US, just use it. With SD and Raw now operating as two shows, not two brands, they could use other avenues to make the US title more interesting, have it the staple belt of main event and superstars say, or even make it a title that changes at live events, giving people a chance to not only care, but to want to go to non-televised shows.

    But you are right, it seems they are trying now, having Sheamus, RVD, Swagger and Del Rio in the tourney in the first place was a nice touch, if former world champions covet the title, why shouldnt the fans?

  • Bryan Mahoney

    I agree completely on everything you said Solomonster I just want to add a couple things. 1 It is so important in any hand to hand combat sport for there to be Title Match Ring Introductions because it sets the tone for how important a Title Match is. This can be said for any Title Match because you are already presenting it like a Big Deal. Examples of which Title Matches should be Introduced are Hogan and Warrior at Mania 6 or more recently Triple H vs Brock Lesnar at Summerslam 2 years ago even though that wasnt for a title. Introductions to big matches like these are essential in grabbing the Audiences attention right out the gate In my opinion.

  • Bryan Mahoney

    2 I also think WWE needs to put Kayfabe more on the backburner in this so called introduction to The Reality Era so to speak and develop top 10 Rankings for every Title in WWE and book based more on wins and losses kind of like How UFC does it. Even though WWE is predetermined show business I think there is way too much to gain if it was presented more like a Competitive Sport and introducing a simple to follow top 10 Ranking System for every Title does this and post up Rankings before matches take place to follow who the top contenders are for every title Win go up have top 2 contenders in #1 Contenders match loser falls 3 or 4 places you get the drift This would effectively tell The Audience Who is on The Rise and where every stars place is in my opinion Just too much to gain for WWE in my opinion if they ever did this

    • Ellsworth Allah

      you should have wrote this

  • ATLANTIS

    TNA tried with the rankings system and because it’s TNA people dismissed it as shit. If WWE were to suddenly do it, it would be seen as original, fresh and bold

    • Solomonster

      People dismissed it because it made no sense the way TNA did it. If that’s the case, then don’t bother doing it at all. Same goes for WWE — if you’re gonna do it, do it the right way and stick with it, otherwise don’t bother.

      • ATLANTIS

        My arse. WWE fuck up all the time

  • Ellsworth Allah

    NIGGA U LOST ME AT UNIFICATION….THIS IS GARBAGE RIGHT HERE

  • Ellsworth Allah

    JUST MORE MAIN EVENTS ON RAW AND SMACKDOWN WILL DO….NO BIG DEAL


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