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WWE Intercontinental Championship

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Title: WWE Intercontinental Championship  
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WWE Intercontinental Championship

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The current WWE Intercontinental Championship belt
Current champion(s) Kevin Owens
Date won September 20, 2015
Date established September 1, 1979
Promotion WWE
Other name(s)
  • WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship (1979–1992)[1]
  • WWF Intercontinental Championship (1992–2002)

The WWE Intercontinental Championship is a professional wrestling championship in WWE, which is currently held by Kevin Owens. Along with the WWE United States Championship, it is one of WWE's secondary titles. Although generally contested in the midcard at WWE shows, the title was defended in the main events of WrestleMania VI, SummerSlam 1992, the third and eighth In Your House events, and Backlash 2001. The championship has been called a "stepping stone" to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.[3][4][5]


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
    • Brand designation history 2.1
  • Reigns 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


The term "intercontinental" in the title originally referred to North and South America.

In 1985, the belt design changed, the centerplate now centered on the Atlantic Ocean, in a map including western Africa and Europe.

On April 10, 1989, the championship was first defended outside of North America, by Rick Rude against The Ultimate Warrior in Milan, Italy.[6] On March 30, 1991, Mr. Perfect made the first Asian defense against The Texas Tornado at a WWF co-promotion with Super World of Sports in Tokyo, Japan.[7] It first came to Africa on April 6, 1997, when champion Rocky Maivia pinned Savio Vega in Durban, South Africa.[8] Shelton Benjamin made the first Australian defense on April 7, 2006, pinning Gene Snitsky in Brisbane.[9]


Inaugural champion and also WWE Hall of Famer, Pat Patterson

WWF North American Heavyweight Champion Pat Patterson became the inaugural champion on September 1, 1979. It was said he had unified his title with the South American Heavyweight Championship, in a tournament in Rio de Janeiro,[10] although both the tournament and South American Championship were entirely fictional.[11][12]

On October 17, 1999, Chyna became the only woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship by defeating Jeff Jarrett at No Mercy.[13][14] Following the World Wrestling Federation's purchase of World Championship Wrestling in March 2001,[15] the title was unified with the WCW United States Championship at Survivor Series, causing the United States Championship to become inactive. The United States Champion, Edge, defeated the Intercontinental Champion, Test.[16]

In 2002, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff began consolidating his brand's singles championships. On July 22, 2002, he announced that the Intercontinental Championship would be unified with the European Championship in a ladder match, which saw Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam defeat European Champion Jeff Hardy. On August 19, 2002, Bischoff made a six-minute gauntlet match for the Hardcore Championship, with the winner facing Van Dam in a second unification match the next week on Raw. Tommy Dreamer successfully retained his title in that match, but lost to Van Dam in a hardcore match the next week.[17][18] As a result of the victories over Hardy and Dreamer, Van Dam is regarded as the last European and Hardcore champion in WWE history; these were his first and fourth reigns with those respective titles.[19][20][21]

Bischoff, however, was not done. On September 30, 2002, he announced that there would be one more unification match. In this match, the Intercontinental Championship would be unified with the recently reactivated World Heavyweight Championship, which had been awarded to Triple H by Bischoff following the decision by SmackDown! General Manager Stephanie McMahon to make reigning Undisputed WWE Champion Brock Lesnar and his title exclusive property of her show. The match took place at No Mercy the following month and saw Triple H defeat Intercontinental Champion Kane, making him the sole singles champion of the Raw brand.[22]

On May 5, 2003, Bischoff's now Raw co-General Manager, Stone Cold Steve Austin, announced live on Raw, over Bischoff's objections, that he was reactivating the Intercontinental Championship and that any former champions on the Raw roster were eligible to enter a battle royal at Judgment Day for the title. Christian won the battle royal to claim the championship and restore a secondary singles title for Raw wrestlers to compete for and giving the brand a total of four championships, which included the World Heavyweight Championship and the former WWF Tag Team Championship, which was renamed the World Tag Team Championship. Eventually WWE would do the same thing for SmackDown! and created a separate set of titles for that brand; for its secondary title, SmackDown! reactivated the United States Championship that had been unified with the Intercontinental Championship in 2001, placing the WWE name on it while claiming the lineage of the old WCW title of the same name (much as they did with the Cruiserweight Championship when that became WWE exclusive).

During the 2009 WWE Draft on April 13, 2009, reigning champion Rey Mysterio was drafted to SmackDown, making the Intercontinental Championship exclusive to that brand.[23] On October 2, 2011, at Hell in a Cell, Cody Rhodes introduced a modified version of the classic belt design with the white strap, with an added modern WWE "scratch logo" and other embellishments.[24] Since August 29, 2011, when all WWE programming became "Supershows" featuring wrestlers from the full roster, the title has been defended on both Raw and SmackDown. On August 18, 2014, the Intercontinental Championship belt design (along with all of the other championships in WWE) was updated with the new logo in place of the long-standing scratch logo. On May 31, 2015, the championship was contested for in an Elimination Chamber match for the first time.[25]

In the 2010s, WWE was criticized for their scripting of the Intercontinental Champions. In 2013, Darren Gutteridge of Pro Wrestling Dot Net wrote that the "title has proven an albatross for the past decade, with almost all title holders doomed to tread water, usually only beating people decisively when the title is on the line".[26] The albatross metaphor was also used to describe the title in 2014 by James Caldwell of Pro Wrestling Torch,[27] while Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer said that year that "the IC title isn't booked to mean much".[28] Various commentators in 2014 and 2015, including from the Baltimore Sun, Rolling Stone, PWInsider and Pro Wrestling Dot Net have pointed out that the Intercontinental Champion often loses non-title matches,[29][30][31][32] while Mike Tedesco of Wrestleview questioned how Intercontinental Champions "losing too much" is "supposed to bring prestige to the Intercontinental Championship".[33]

Brand designation history

Following the WWE Brand Extension on March 25, 2002, all titles in WWE became exclusive to either the Raw brand or SmackDown! brand. The following is a list of dates indicating the transitions of the Intercontinental Championship between the Raw and SmackDown! brands.


Championship moved to the Raw brand.

Championship moved to the SmackDown! brand.
Date of transition Notes
March 25, 2002 Rob Van Dam was drafted to Raw following the brand extension, making the Intercontinental Championship exclusive to Raw.
July 30, 2002 Chris Benoit defects to SmackDown! as Intercontinental Champion.
August 25, 2002 Rob Van Dam regains the championship, returning it back to Raw.
April 13, 2009 Following the 2009 WWE Draft, the Intercontinental Champion at the time, Rey Mysterio, is drafted to SmackDown and brings the title to the brand. The title remains with SmackDown until the discontinuation of the brands on 29 August 2011.


Current champion: Kevin Owens

The inaugural champion was Pat Patterson who, as the WWF North American Champion in September 1979 was also declared "South American Heavyweight Champion" after "winning" a fictitious tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Patterson unified the two championships into the Intercontinental Championship.

There have been 76 different champions. Kevin Owens, who is in his first reign. He defeated Ryback on September 20, 2015 in Houston, Texas at the Night of Champions event to win the title.


  1. ^ WWE WrestleMania I (DVD).  
  2. ^ Dean Douglas' Reign
  3. ^ "WWE: Assessing the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship" on AllWrestling. (accessed 7th of April 2015).
  4. ^ "Intercontinental Title Or United States Title: Which Is Currently Getting The Better Rub?" on Wrestle Zone. (accessed 7th of April 2015).
  5. ^ "Ranking the Top 10 Greatest WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Matches" on Bleacher Report. (accessed 7th of April 2015).
  6. ^ 1989 WWF events, from
  7. ^ The 4,181 Intercontinental title matches, from
  8. ^ 1997 WWF events, from
  9. ^ 2005 WWF events, from
  10. ^ "Pat Patterson's first reign". 
  11. ^ "Intercontinental Title Tournament Finally Uncovered", April Fool's joke from
  12. ^ Intercontinental title history, from
  13. ^ Lilsboy (May 2005). "The truth about Chyna". The Sun. Retrieved 2007-04-12. 
  14. ^ Laurer, Joanie. If They Only Knew, 299.
  15. ^ "WWE Entertainment, Inc. Acquires WCW from Turner Broadcasting". WWE Corporate. 2001-03-23. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  16. ^ "Survivor Series 2001 results". WWE. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  17. ^ "WWE Raw – June 22, 2002 results". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  18. ^ "WWE Raw – August 26, 2002 results". Online World of Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  19. ^ "Rob Van Dam's first reign".  
  20. ^ "WWE European Championship history". WWE. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  21. ^ "WWE Hardcore Championship history". Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  22. ^ "No Mercy 2002 results". WWE. Retrieved 2007-12-07. 
  23. ^ Plummer, Dale (2009-04-14). "RAW: Drafting a fresh start for the WWE". Slam! Sports.  
  24. ^ Buridck, Michael (2011-10-02). """WWE "Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes def. John Morrison. Retrieved 2011-10-04. 
  25. ^ Matthew, Artus. "Ryback def. Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Mark Henry, Sheamus and King Barrett in an Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber Match". WWE. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  26. ^ Gutteridge, Darren. Man vs. Machine" WWE Survivor Series Preview and Predictions: Is this the last we'll see of the Survivor Series format? How will WWE 2K14 fair [sic] in it's [sic] first outing?""". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Caldwell, James. "WWE Raw results 11/17: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live Raw - final Survivor Series hype, main event Contract Signing, new IC champion, more". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  28. ^ "Sun. Update: TLC preview, odds". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  29. ^ "Luke Harper gets his first taste of gold on Monday Night Raw".  
  30. ^ "WWE Fast Lane Tip Sheet". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  31. ^ "03/02 Powell's WWE Raw Live Review: Paul Heyman promo, Seth Rollins and "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart, Nikki Bella vs. Paige for the Divas Championship, WrestleMania 31 build continues". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Herzog, Kenny. "WWE 'Royal Rumble' Recap: The Philadelphia Phuck You".  
  33. ^ "2/26 SmackDown: It wasn't bad or good". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 

External links

  • Official WWE Intercontinental Title History
  • Intercontinental Championship
  • WWE Intercontinental Title Belts: A Guide to the Gold
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