Once upon a time, the Intercontinental Championship was the ultimate working man’s title, generally awarded to the person who had the best wrestling skills, the best charisma, and was often the central point of a great storyline.
Since it’s inception on the 1st September 1979, the likes of Pat Patterson, Shawn Michaels, The Ultimate Warrior, The Honky Tonk Man and Chris Jericho have held the championship, and it’s maddening that over the past 10 years, there have been so many articles written about how the titles relevance is either hit-or-miss, or completely irrelevant.
As of writing this, Shinsuke Nakamura- arguably one of the most under-utilised, yet most talented wrestlers on the WWE roster, is the current champion, having obtained it by beating Finn Balor at Extreme Rules. This could have brought the title to the forefront on its own, had it not been for this being a last-minute booking decision on the writer’s side, and also Balor’s title defence being on the pre-show. With this in mind, I’ve come up with five suggestions as to how to build up the Intercontinental Championship back to its deserving legitimacy.
5. Push the reigning champion to the top card
The Intercontinental Championship suffers from being seen as the B-List and C-List titles, and therefore it is often used as a way to occupy the mid-card superstars. Whilst this can be seen as a good thing, a lot of the time it means that champion is in invalid 1v1 matches with superstars that haven’t even got a storyline behind him.
Moreover, a lot of the time, the champion doesn’t get as much screen time, so they are thrown in last-minute booking decisions (presumably to keep them quiet). When we look at how Nakamura has been shown since his championship win (mediocre to say the least), it’s clear that the writers need to big up their current champions to build the legitimacy of the title.
4. Put the Intercontinental Championship matches on the main event consistently
With there being so many wrestlers on the roster, it’s probably not the easiest job for the WWE writers to try and make so many superstars relevant, hence why we see a lot of jump-starts and cuts on storylines, and why we see so many potential top card players fall into the low-mid card abyss. With the last championship change happening on the pre-show of a B-rated PPV, this makes the title seem unimportant, and it also makes it clear to the WWE Universe that the writers aren’t seeing a bigger picture for where the championship’s story is going. I’m not saying that it needs to be a main-eventer, but surely championship matches should be on the main card?
3. Allow the Intercontinental Champion to hold the title for a longer time
This isn’t just an issue with this particular title, however the fact that we see championship changes on such a regular basis now- it’s easy to see why many in the WWE Universe no longer see the titles to hold as much value. I mean asides from the WWE Universal Championship and the WWE Championship in the men’s division- do we watch any other title match, and expect an A* show? As mentioned before, the Intercontinental Championship was originally made for the working wrestlers.
A prime example of what the championship should look like is when Chris Jericho held the title. He wouldn’t just parade the title with his heel promos and bitter feuds- he’d deliver different kind of matches, and you know that when he was either fighting for the championship or defending it- it was serious business. He ended up holding the title 9 times, sometimes for a month, sometimes for several months (his longest reign was 111 days), but the point is that he made the championship his.
Other notable holders were The Honky Tonk Man, who held it for 454 days, The Rock for 265 days, and Cody Rhodes for 264. These reigns were represented with prestige, and whoever challenged them to the title would be represented with an intricate storyline, and genuine interest from the writers. It just seems that the recent changes have been done in a desperate attempt to make the show more interesting, when all they need to do is just stick with who they have- and give them a chance to showcase what they can do with the title.
2. Make the Intercontinental Championship matches have special stipulations
The problem with WWE Championship matches at the moment seems to be that the matches are either singles, or tag team matches- and whilst it is true that we need to keep special stipulation matches like ladder, or TLC matches for special occasions, adding stipulations to at least some of the IC title matches would show variation of the workmanship of the champion, and even more so- build hype for the match.
There’s nothing more exciting than a nostalgic ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship after all- and larger 4-man, or 6-man matches would bring a spark to the stale 1v1 formula they’ve been doing for so long now. They’ve done several triple threat matches to be fair to them, but maybe let’s crank up the heat WWE… we need it.
Unify the Intercontinental Championship with the US Championship
Just like the sheer number of wrestlers on the roster, there are so many championships on both Raw and SmackDown to engage with. A simple fix would be to merge the US and Intercontinental Championship belts together to create more prestige for the competitors fighting for it. We could even make it available for both Raw and Smackdown wrestlers to spice it up. Both championships are at a stagnant point in their lives, so why not? Imagine right now Nakamura actually having all of that power- okay, it’s not the WWE Championship, but the variety of feuds that could come from this is enough for all of us fans to daydream!
You can find me on Twitter @n0cturnalowl. Thanks for reading.