Top 10 Intercontinental Championship Matches in Raw history
This past Monday, Dolph Ziggler defended his Intercontinental Championship against The Miz and Cesaro in a Triple Threat slugfest, and it was awesome. The match was so good, in fact, that it got us thinking about other Intercontinental Title classics that happened strictly on Monday Night Raw. With no small effort, WWE.com presents this list of the 10 most exciting, educational, and in some cases horrifying Monday Night Raw matches (just Raw, mind you: no Savage-Steamboat, no HBK-Razor; just Raw) to showcase the Intercontinental Title.
Intercontinental Champion Goldust vs. Savio Vega (April 15, 1996)
Watching old-school Goldust at work is fascinating stuff. The Bizarre One’s run with the Intercontinental Title — this match specifically — wasn’t so remarkable for wrestling nuance (though, for the record, this guy could go and still can) as for how personal Goldust managed to make his matches. Case in point was this title defense, wherein Savio Vega, a tough-man from Puerto Rico, practically overflowed with disgust at the sight of The Bizarre One. In response, Goldust used his gender-bending gyrations to unman (so to speak) his opponent, the commentators, and even the WWE Universe. The conclusion of this particular bout was convoluted — while the ref was down, Savio clocked Goldust with the title to pin him, so WWE President Gorilla Monsoon reversed the decision and vacated the title — but the match itself remains a master class, both in technical ability and persona portrayal. Performance Center hopefuls, take note.
Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin vs. Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam (March 20, 2006)
It’s tough to beat a good Triple Threat, and this was a good, good Triple Threat. It was fast, deceptively simple and beneficial for all involved, starting with the champion Shelton Benjamin, all the way to Ric Flair, who was in the midst of his second-act renaissance in WWE. With nary a Mama Benjamin in sight to provide assistance, it fell on Benjamin to outsmart The Dirtiest Player in the Game and outlast RVD, who was in his freak-of-nature prime at this point in his career. Lo and behold, The Gold Standard did just that, pouncing on “The Nature Boy” while Flair had RVD ensnared in the Figure-Four Leglock to score an out-of-nowhere pin and retain his title. Woo, indeed.
Intercontinental Champion William Regal vs. CM Punk (Jan. 19, 2009)
If there’s a list of exemplary wrestling, William Regal is probably going to be somewhere on it. Those who know the Blackpool native as the genial GM of WWE NXT or the pompous fop of the Attitude Era will be stunned to see him in this match, stiff-backed and kingly in stature, with disdain etched in every inch of his face as he administered swift, unrelenting brutality in defense of his Intercontinental Title. Similarly, those who remember CM Punk as the pontificating Voice of the Voiceless probably won’t recognize the rabid wrestler who didn’t so much fight Regal as hunt him in the deciding No Disqualification-rules rubber match of their battle over the championship. Regal’s mean streak fended Punk off long enough, but he was just a little too calm, a little too stately, and it’s not like The Straight Edge Superstar was about to lose in Chicago, right? A Go to Sleep to the Englishman put him down, handed Punk the title and kicked off a big party in the Windy City. Deep-dish for everyone!
Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Booker T (July 7, 2003)
Yes, he’s a five-time, five-time, five-time, five-time, FIVE-TIME WCW Champion. As of this match, though, Booker T had yet to lay hands on the Intercontinental Championship, and to get his first run with the prize, he had to go through Christian. Even though Booker had a distinct size advantage over Captain Charisma, the champion more than held his own, taking advantage of Booker’s early (and inexplicable) desire to perform the Spinaroonie. With such near match-ending scenarios, Christian was so crafty that Booker actually had to beat him twice; Captain Charisma initially got his foot on the ropes and the ref restarted the match. It took a dizzying, ping-ponging series of scissor kicks to finally do the job, but the smile on Booker’s face as he became a one-time, one-time … you know, Intercontinental Champion is more than worth it
Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho (Oct. 27, 2003)
Can we interest you in a Rob Van Dam-Chris Jericho title match? Of course we can. How about we make it two? A particularly interesting night for the storied title came on Oct. 27, 2003, when Jericho, riding an assist from Eric Bischoff, defeated “Mr. Monday Night” for his Intercontinental Championship. The chicanery didn’t sit well with Co-General Manager “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who ordered an immediate rematch inside of a steel cage that, predictably, upped the stakes and the action significantly.
Jericho — whose repeated shouts of “ASK HIM!” should’ve gotten it entered into the catchphrase lexicon at large — continued to work RVD’s pulverized lower back, and The Whole Dam Show responded by, in so many words, kicking Y2J square in the face. A gravity-defying finale where RVD swung like Tarzan and kicked the cage door into Jericho’s face returned the title to the ECW Original, though when a match is this entertaining there really aren’t any losers to be found.
Intercontinental Champion The Miz vs. Bad News Barrett (April 8, 2013)
Ironically enough, this was a good news night for Barrett, who had succumbed to The Miz on the WrestleMania 29 Pre-Show and lost his Intercontinental Championship in the process. Evoking his rematch clause the next night, the Englishman broke out the deep cuts of his arsenal and even brought a few covers into the mix, adopting Mick Foley’s Cactus Elbow as his very own to the delight of the hardcore fans in attendance. Let it never be said that Miz didn’t rise to the occasion, but by the time Barrett clocked The Awesome One with the fateful Bull Hammer, the audience was more than satisfied with the fight that had preceded it. Even Barrett would have to admit, the match was pretty … well, awesome.
Intercontinental Champion Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler (June 23, 2014)
Hey, this guy again! By the time Bad News Barrett took on Dolph Ziggler in defense of his fourth Intercontinental Championship in June 2014, the brawling Brit had become a seasoned pro at protecting the coveted title. Ziggler, then clawing for the defining victory that would restore his championship glory, picked at Barrett like a big, blond mosquito, frustrating the champion for the duration of the lengthy contest. It would take the biggest of Bull Hammers to finally drop the Hollywood blond for the three-count, but it’s a telling notion of how good the match was that Ziggler got pinned and the WWE Universe — who love Ziggler — weren’t all that mad about it.
Intercontinental Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam — Ladder Match (May 27, 2002)
Sometimes the best matches are the ones where everything goes wrong. This gruesome clash between Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam featured just about as many mishaps that have ever happened in a single match. RVD went headfirst into a ladder in the first five minutes and warped it beyond repair; Eddie later had to retrieve another one. Van Dam later attempted a Five-Star Frog Splash off the second ladder but that was too messed up to hold him and he face-planted from 15 feet up.
WWE Network: Eddie Guerrero becomes a World Champion
And still, the match is great. It’s beyond great, actually, because both Superstars did something that’s rarely seen in this capacity, legitimately putting their bodies on the line for the Intercontinental Championship. Not the World Title, mind you, the Intercontinental Title. It’s often said that this is the title for the Superstars who are next in line; these two wrestled like they were willing to cut to the front and take the glory all for themselves. It’s even understandable that Jerry Lawler screeched “Latino HEEEEEAT!!” like the Taco Bell Chihuahua every five minutes. He was just caught up in the action, same as the rest of us.
Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels vs. Marty Jannetty (May 17, 1993)
You didn’t have to know that this was Marty Jannetty’s long-awaited payback match against HBK for tossing him through the Barber Shop window to see that both Superstars involved were fighting like their lives depended on it. It’s a reminder that vintage, sleazy Michaels was a delight and that, on his best day, Jannetty could absolutely hang with his former partner and the eventual “Mr. WrestleMania” (it’s also a reminder that Mr. Perfect, who played bouncer to stop Michaels from fleeing the scene, was kind of the man). As for the match itself? It’s completely thrilling despite its age. Mr. McMahon nearly passed out at commentary calling the action and even Randy Savage was compelled to sheathe his weirdness in reverence to the talent involved, especially when Jannetty pulled off the upset to win one for the good guys. Hearing Howard Finkel bellow the arrival of a NEEEEWWWWWW Intercontinental Champion rarely felt this good.
Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Rob Van Dam — Ladder Match (Sept. 29, 2003)
This match was both a textbook example of a title match done right and a veritable “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” PSA in its entirety. With Christian defending his ill-gotten title against Rob Van Dam, the ladders came out after about two minutes and the mayhem didn’t stop after that. Christian all but served his body up on a platter for “Mr. Monday Night” and kept on ticking even after he was splattered across the steel like roadkill for roughly 10 minutes straight. RVD was similarly self-sacrificing; he hit the rungs like a man who thought he was going to live forever. After seeing him ascend the steel for a Five-Star Frog Splash that carried him through the heavens and straight onto Christian’s sternum, you probably will, too.