49) Big E
50) Dolph Ziggler
We can laugh about his push these days, but in 2010 Ziggler's five-month plus title reign made him a major player on SmackDown. The Show Off defended his belt against the likes of Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger and NXT winner Kaval.
Shortly after turning face last year, Big E won the I-C Championship for the first time, defeating Curtis Axel. During his 167-day title reign, E also defended the belt against Jack Swagger, Damien Sandow and others.
Johnson definitely stepped up his game in 1996 when he defeated Goldust to win the I-C strap. However, he spent most of his two months as champion teaming up with Shawn Michaels and others rather than defending the belt. An injury eventually forced him to vacate the championship.
It was a shock in 1990 when The Texas Tornado won his first and only WWF championship, substituting for an injured Brutus Beefcake to topple Mr. Perfect for the belt. He only held it for a few months, mostly defending against Perfect and Haku, before dropping it back to Perfect due to Ted DiBiase's interference.
47) Ahmed Johnson
48) Kerry Von Erich
I know what you're thinking... have there even been 50 Intercontinental Champions before?
Yes sir (or, depending on who's reading this.... ma'am). Since the championship was created in 1979, there have been more than 70 different titleholders and over 140 title changes -- even with the belt being abandoned for a six-month period in 2002/3. That's a lot of champions, but which ones were the best?
Glad you asked. This week's Top 50 list ranks wrestlers by how good a champion they were while wearing I-C gold. Were they visible on television? Did they take on a variety of challengers? Have they held the Intercontinental Title more than once?
These are the questions I looked at in judging the 50 best. My one qualification is that a wrestler had to hold the belt for at least 30 days (even if it's in combined title reigns), so if you're wondering where Marty Jannetty, The Mountie or Dean Douglas went - they were all less than a month).
All set? Here we go!
In his Raw debut in 2005, Carlito defeated Shelton Benjamin for the Intercontinental Title, reminiscient of how he'd captured the United States Title his first night wrestling on SmackDown. Carlito held the title for only 90 days before dropping it to Ric Flair. Dass not cool.
The Samoan Bulldozer was Intercontinental Champion twice in 2007, defeating Jeff Hardy and Santino Marella. During that time, Umaga was aligned with Vince and Shane McMahon in a feud with Bobby Lashley, was defeated by newcomer Santino, and even (briefly) turned babyface.
I'm willing to bet most of you don't even remember Mysterio was I-C Champion, but he was... twice. In 2009, he defeated John Bradshaw Layfield in a quick match at WrestleMania. And later in the year, after losing the belt to Chris Jericho, he recaptured it a second time, this time from Jericho in a mask vs. hair match.
The Miz regained the Intercontinental Title this week at Battleground, continuing a tradition of winning the belt at big events. He won the first strap at Raw 1000, defeating Christian, and then captured the belt again at the WrestleMania 29 pre-show, where he upended Wade Barrett.
45) Rey Mysterio
46) The Miz
Guerrero owns perhaps the funniest Intercontinental Championship win in history, when he "accidentally" pinned his Mamacita Chyna during a triple threat match for the belt. His two combined reigns lasted a combined 114 days, with the second reign beginning with a victory over Rob Van Dam.
Morrison actually held the I-C Title three times, defeating Shelton Benjamin and Jeff Hardy while still known as Johnny Nitro, and then once more as John Morrison when he defeated Rey Mysterio in 2009.
In 1999, Chyna became the first (and only to date) female Intercontinental Champion, defeating Jeff Jarrett in the infamous "Good Housekeeping" match. Although she lost the belt to Chris Jericho later that year, they become co-holders of the belt for part of the following year.
Patera was the second person to hold the Intercontinental Championship, defeating Pat Patterson for the honor. Although he defended the belt against the likes of Tony Atlas and Gorila Monsoon during his nine-month reign, he was also an NWA Champion in Missouri at the same time.
Boasting the shortest reign on this list (35 days), Angle nonetheless held it with style, becoming the second man to capture the European and Intercontinental Championships at the same time. D'Lo Brown was the first EuroContinental Champion, but, according to Angle, "he doesn't count."
Steamboat won the belt in 1987 from Macho Man Randy Savage in arguably the best-known Intercontinental Title match of all time. However, after a handful of defenses against Savage and Hercules, The Dragon dropped the belt to The Honky Tonk Man, and never competed for the belt again.
Hot Rod famously ended The Mountie's historic one-day title reign in 1992, capturing his first WWF championship in the process. While Piper's win was merely a catalyst for him to lose the belt to Bret Hart at that year's WrestleMania, the two had an incredible match that raised the belt's profile in many ways.
Injuries kept Austin from having a better run with the I-C belt. When he defeated Owen Hart at SummerSlam '97, his neck was injured in the process, keeping him out of action until he regained the belt at Survivor Series. Then a few months later, he was stripped of the title in favor of The Rock due to lingering injuries.
41) John Morrison
42) Eddie Guerrero
39) Ken Patera
38) Kurt Angle
37) Ricky Steamboat
35) Stone Cold Steve Austin
36) Rowdy Roddy Piper
Regal's brass knux storyline led him to win his first Intercontinental Title in 2002 with a victory over Edge, which lasted until WrestleMania X8 that year when he was defeated by Rob Van Dam. Some six years later, Regal won the belt again in his home country, defeating Santino Marella.
Rhodes won the I-C Championship in 2011 by defeating Ezekiel Jackson. He actually held the belt for an impressive 236 days, defending against the likes of Randy Orton, John Morrison and Booker T before dropping the strap to The Big Show at WrestleMania 28.
While Rude's one and only Intercontinental title reign only lasted from WrestleMania to SummerSlam, the fact that he captured the belt from The Ultimate Warrior was an impressive feat. He also became the first wrestler to bring Bobby Heenan a singles title in the WWF.
"The Chosen One" held onto the belt for 161 days and defended it against a variety of opponents, including John Morrison, Kane and Matt Hardy. Eventually he dropped the belt to Kofi Kingston and wasn't able to regain it during his WWE run.
No matter what you think of Benoit's untimely demise, it's hard to discount the fact that he held the Intercontinental Championship on four separate occasions in the early 2000's. His reigns were highlighted by a series of show-stopping matches against Chris Jericho, including a Ladder Match.
The World's Most Dangerous Man captured the belt in October 1998 following a tournament, defeating X-Pac in the finals. He held the championship until February of the next year, when special referee Billy Gunn screwed him out of a match and awarded the strap to Val Venis.
Diesel's victory over Razor Ramon in April 1994 was special because it paved the way for him and Shawn Michaels to capture the Tag Team Championships at the same time. And of course, once Diesel was sans championship, he won the WWF World Title in short order from Mr. Bob Backlund.
1997 saw The King of Harts win the Intercontinental not once, but twice. He captured the belt by defeating a young Rocky Maivia and later dropped it to Stone Cold Steve Austin in their infamous SummerSlam match. When Austin had to vacate the title due to injury, Owen captured the belt again, this time in a tournament.
33) Cody Rhodes
34) William Regal
32) Ravishing Rick Rude
31) Drew McIntyre
30) Chris Benoit
29) Ken Shamrock
27) Owen Hart
Mr. Monday Night could also be called Mr. Intercontinental Champion - he's captured the belt on six different occasions. He defeated a who's who of top wrestlers to win his championships, including William Regal, Eddy Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Christian.
"The Greatest Intercontinental Champion For All The Times?" Hardly. Marella won the I-C strap in 2007, his first night on the active roster. He regained it the following year, when he and Beth Phoenix won an intergender tag match. Still, both reigns added up to less than 170 days as champion!
Captain Charisma is a four-time Intercontinental Champion, defeating the likes of Edge and Cody Rhodes for the honors. He also won a battle royale at Judgment Day in 2003 to win the belt in a match that featured eight other former I-C Champions.
Goldust made his transition from sideshow attraction to champion in 1996, when he defeated Razor Ramon for the I-C gold. Challengers during that first reign included The Ultimate Warrior, Ahmed Johnson and Savio Vega. He traded the belt back and forth with Vega and then struck gold again in 1999.
The Game is a five-time Intercontinental Champion, with wins dating back to his Connecticut Blueblood gimmick with a win over Marc Mero. Later in his career, Triple H defeated Chris Jericho, The Rock and others for the belt. He briefly retired the championship with a victory over Kane in 2003.
Kingston is, surprisingly, a four time champion, defeating the likes of Drew McIntyre and Dolph Ziggler. What's more surprising is that Kingston's combined reigns lasted an incredible 266 days.
The Rainbow-Haired Warrior has held the championship four times between the years 2001 and 2007, defeating the likes of Johnny Nitro, Umaga and Triple H.
I'm afraid I've got some Bad News.... Wade Barrett may very well have been champion today had an injury not kept him from defending the belt. Still, Barrett has held the championship four times in his career and could very well capture it again when he's healthy.
25) Santino Marella
26) Rob Van Dam
22) Triple H
21) Kofi Kingston
19) Bad News Barrett
20) Jeff Hardy
Valentine was the Intercontinental Champion going into the inaugural WrestleMania, which should tell you about his importance at the time. His lone title reign lasted 285 days, winning and losing the championship to Tito Santana.
Despite the dubious origins of how Patterson captured the championship (a ficticious tournament in Rio de Janiero), the fact remains that he was the first Intercontinental Champion and held on to the belt for about eight months before dropping it to Ken Patera.
Orton's early career as The Legend Killer was solidifed by the fact that he was Intercontinental Champion. His seven-month title reign began in December 2003 when he was a member of Evolution, overcoming Rob Van Dam and didn't end until the following summer at the hands of Edge.
Muraco's combined two reigns as Intercontinental Champion are the second-longest in WWE history as he traded the strap back and forth with Pedro Morales in the early 1980's before eventually losing it for good to a young Tito Santana.
Double J became synonymous with the Intercontinental Title during his multiple WWF runs, holding the belt six times between 1995 and 1999. Because this was during the heyday of Raw, Jarrett was often defending the belt on TV on a weekly basis.
You may not think of him as a legendary I-C Champion, but The Gold Standard's three title reigns almost equal one year in total, which is more than The Rock, Triple H, Rob Van Dam and many others can claim.
Michaels is another wrestler whose early career was defined by the Intercontinental Title. From his first title victory as a heel over Davey Boy Smith to regaining the belt from Marty Jannetty, and finally winning it from Jeff Jarrett during his babyface phase.... we saw HBK grow up with the I-C title.
In 1997, before The Rock was even The Rock (and was just plucky newcomer Rocky Maivia), he was already Intercontinental Champion. Later that year, his new persona forming, The Rock would defeat Steve Austin (by forfeit) to recapture the championship and defend it against Ken Shamrock and others.