Gunther has been a revelation as the Intercontinental Champion. At 281 days and counting, GUNTHER is now the longest-reigning WWE Intercontinental Champion since 1988, when the reign of The Honky Tonk Man came to a close. The Ring General has brought prestige back to the once-great championship. He has defended it against all comers, some of which have main evented episodes of Smackdown.
It is great to see the title being taken seriously again. For years the strap was an afterthought. It was rarely showcased. Thankfully, Gunther has changed all that. Heading into Wrestlemania it is looking like it will be a triple-threat match for the title. We can all agree with Gunther taking on both Drew McIntyre and Sheamus that we will witness a fantastic match. A match is deserving of Wrestlemania.
With the IC title match all but set it got the mind thinking as to how the mid-card strap has fared at Wrestlemania. Let’s look at some of the best of these matches and hope that Gunter, McIntyre and Sheamus are up to the task.
Wrestlemania III (1987) – Randy Savage v Ricky Steamboat
This was the quintessential match of the 1980s. Sure, there were plenty of massive wrestlers who competed for the World Championship, but it was this match that stood above the rest.
The Intercontinental Championship had always been referred to as the working man’s title, and this was one of the matches that established that thinking. Savage and Steamboat put on a clinic of professional wrestling. Pontiac was shown a faster-paced style of working that created more excitement than those before it. The near falls and compelling storytelling in the ring heightened the drama and created a monstrous pop when Steamboat rolled Savage up for the win.
This match has stood the test of time. It was the reason that many got into wrestling, and it is still considered one of the greatest of all time.
Wrestlemania IX (1993) – Shawn Michaels v Tatanka
Wrestlemania IX was not a great PPV. Most of the matches weren’t captivating and the main event has the reputation of being one of the worst in the history of the event. The only saving grace of the show was the opener for the Intercontinental Championship.
Tatanka and HBK had a great mini feud going leading up to the show. Tatanka had gotten a few wins over the champ and had all the momentum going in. Michaels, of course, was his usually great self. His heel work throughout the match was great and helped to get the Native American over.
The ending was a bit of a let down, what with the screwy finish, but that doesn’t take away from the journey it took to get there. It was a diamond in the rough of a Wrestlemania IX.
Wrestlemania X (1994) – Shawn Michaels v Razor Ramon
This was the match that changed the game. The introduction of the Ladder Match to Wrestlemania was a huge deal. It added a larger sense of danger to any match and became the highlight of any card it was on.
Razor and Shawn had a gripe with one another over who was the true Intercontinental Champion. The best way to solve this was to put the two in a ring with a ladder. It ended up being a great idea as Shawn and Razor put on a show. Their use of the ladder as a weapon was fantastic and was a fresh presentation over gimmick matches of the past.
The infatuation WWE has with the ladder match started on this night. It was a night where new things were made possible and a legendary gimmick was born.
Wrestlemania 32 (2016) – 8–Man Ladder Match
From one ladder match to another we have this great opener for the Intercontinental Championship from Wrestlemania 32.
The match was a thrown-together mess from the beginning but this worked in its favour. The crowd was hot to start the show and this match was a huge reason. It was non-stop action from start to finish. Every man got a good rub during the match, with Stardust paying homage to his father and a painful looking spot by Owens and Zayn being highlights.
It also had one of the all-time shock finishes. As it looked like The Miz would capture the glory, in came Zack Ryder to pull off the upset. It got a fantastic reaction from the crowd and was a great way to start off the show.
Wrestlemania VIII (1992) – Roddy Piper v Bret Hart
In a true passing of the torch moment, Bret Hart and Piper tore the house down in Indiana. The face v face angle was not one that WWE pulled out often, but it was there that match truly took form.
From the beginning, the mutual respect was there but after some choice words from Piper it got personal quickly. Thus began the heated debate between the two men of who was better. It was fantastic and made the match one of the more anticipated on the card.
The action followed the build up quite nicely. It was violent and gritty and everything that we all hoped it would be. Piper reverted to the heel role he was so well known for, and it created a perfect way for Hart to break into the singles arena.
Mutual respect eventually won out as Piper and Hart embraced to close out a special Wrestlemania moment.
Wrestlemania 34 (2018) – The Miz v Finn Balor v Seth Rollins
The IC strap got a shot of adrenaline over 2017/2018. The Miz had been doing some fantastic character work with the championship. He was the perfect cocky heel, and he ran his mouth too much, causing GM Kurt Angle to book a triple threat for Wrestlemania.
This match was exactly what anyone would want out of a triple threat match. It was fast-paced and included plenty of exciting false finishes. It was a fun match that had three men who had a legitimate shot of winning the match. Rollins, Balor and Miz were all fantastic choices to carry the title past Wrestlemania.
The workman’s title was exactly that at Wrestlemania 34. It was the best match of the night and a great showcase for the Intercontinental Championship.
Wrestlemania 31 (2015) – 7 – Man Ladder Match
Wrestlemania is always a show that WWE tries to get everyone on. Trying to give a payday to their wrestlers they include various multi-person matches. Most of these matches aren’t the entertaining romp that we all hope for, but luckily the IC Ladder Match at Wrestlemania 31 was.
The combination of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Bad New Barrett, Dean Ambrose, R-Truth, Stardust and Luke Harper was great. It represented all walks of WWE life. The brawler, the high-flyer, the hero and the villain were all involved. It was the perfect dynamic for a ladder match.
Naturally, the action was your typical ladder match fare. The destruction was brutal as the ladders were used in every which way they could be. The bump with Ambrose getting power bombed through a ladder was a particularly brutal spot.
Bryan getting the win was a great feel-good moment to start off the show. Too bad that this moment was short-lived.
Wrestlemania V (1989) – The Ultimate Warrior v Rick Rude
The Ultimate Warrior was the next big thing in WWE. The painted-faced madman was quickly becoming the most popular star in the company. He was on his way to face The Immortal One but for starters, he needed to get past The Ravishing One.
Rick Rude was a great first big feud for Warrior. The war of impressive physiques was a great story and one that was made better by their surprisingly good matches. The first of which took place at Wrestlemania V.
Both men were not known for being great workers, which is why their contest at ‘Mania was such a shock. They worked very well together and brought out the best in one another. The blending of power moves with some surprising technical spots showed the world something different. It showed that both were more than just your average muscle-bound heavies.