Pedro Morales. Randy Savage. Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels. The Rock. Triple H. Chris Jericho. Edge. Besides being some of the best to ever compete in the WWE, these men all have in common the fact that they have held the Intercontinental Championship in their careers, some multiple times. Some of the best matches in the history of the company have been contested over this title. But lately it seems the WWE cares little for Intercontinental Title. The inspiration for this article came from our fearless leader, Rob, so I must give credit where credit is due.

The title’s long and storied history goes back to the inaugural champion, Pat Patterson, in 1979 and became the secondary title of the company when it was called the WWF, even with the European Title present. However, once WWF purchased WCW and the Invasion angle occured, many more titles were in the system, but the IC still retained its prestige. Lately however, the title seems to have lost the importance and high regard it once had. This has occured over the last few years, but it could be argued that the catalyst was when it was unified with the WHC in 2002 and was gone completely for about 7 months.

In order to understand this recent and quite disturbing trend, one must understand what made the Intercontinental Championship special in the first place. Not simply was it ‘just another title’ in the company nor was it just a secondary title; it came to be seen as a stepping stone to greatness. Not only that but a big number of those who have held the title have gone on to become World Champions. Once a wrestler had proved himself he could enter the competition for the IC Title. So it could be said holders of the IC Title evolved into World Champions. Another big part of what made the title so prestigious was the fact that there were storylines and matches that made the audience care.

No one example illustrates this more then the Intercontinental Championship match between Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith at Summerslam in 1992. Not only was it taking place in London’s Wembley Stadium, in Smith’s home country, but his wife was in attendance and she happened to be Bret’s sister. The familial and location factors set the stage for the match and both men delivered. With each move, each counter, you could see and feel the passion both men had for the title and what they were willing to do to win it. Smith ending up winning in his home country and the match has become known as one of the greatest ever in the history of professional wrestling.

Of course that storyline was unique and had certain aspects that may not be able to be replicated ever again; for one it was the main event! When do you think we’ll see an IC match headline a PPV again? There are numerous other matches/angles that showcase what the IC title meant back in the day. The Ramon-Michaels Ladder at Wrestlemania X, Honky Tonk-Warrior at Summerslam ’88 and Jericho-Angle at No Way Out in 2000 are just a few examples. There are enough of these great and memorable matches to fill out a 3 DVD collection! They could even fill 5 or 6 DVDs and the quality wouldn’t go down.

So how does the Intercontinental Championship get back its former glory? First of all, bringing back its status as a stepping stone to a World Title requires that WWE actually develop younger talent that they can identify as ready to step up their game and prove themselves. If I was discussing this with WWE, this is how I’d imagine our conversation going:

WWE: Cena and Orton are our biggest stars, so we think tha…

All kidding aside, perhaps more then anything their over-reliance on the Super Duo hampers their ability to grow younger stars, which I believe is critical for the development of the IC title. This is not to say Cena and Orton are at fault for the IC title losing its luster, but Creative writing good stories for them and not for other wrestlers/titles does not help the situation.

Every wrestler in the company wants to be a World Champ, but if you actually had someone that’s relatively young say they want to be Intercontinental Champ instead, that would be a starting point. They could have one of the younger talents, say Cody Rhodes, get the title and cut a promo about how low it has sunken and how he will be the one to lead the title’s resurgence. Of course a face would then need to come out and say something to the effect of how Rhodes only wants it for himself and how they will  bring back the true spirit of the title. It seems basic, but it is a good place to begin from. Dolph Ziggler’s promo recently on how the US Title is the only title that matters is something that could be applied to the IC. 

The IC title used to be one of the most prestigious and sought-after titles in professional wrestling. Many of its holders went on to very successful careers. I mean Chris Jericho won it a record 9 times and its that accolade, in part, that will put him in the Hall of Fame one day. He might not have been able to proclaim that he ‘was the best in the world at what he does’ without those 9 reigns. His case is just one of many that could be made to show how important the title could be to a wrestler’s career. I won’t pretend I have all the answers in order to fix this situation, but I do remember watching guys wrestle and put on amazing matches just for the right to be able to hold the Intercontinental Championship. Making it relevant once more could only help WWE in improving its product and hopefully they already have plans in place to do so.