WWE Intercontinental Championship
|WWE Intercontinental Championship|
The current Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship belt
|Date established||September 10, 1979|
The WWE Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship is a professional wrestling championship in WWE. It is the secondary title of the promotion. Although generally contested on the midcard at WWE shows, matches for the title have, on occasion, headlined pay-per-view events.
On April 10, 1989, the championship was first defended outside of North America, by Rick Rude against The Ultimate Warrior in Milan, Italy. On March 30, 1991, Mr. Perfect made the first Asian defense against The Texas Tornado at a WWF copromotion with Super World of Sports in Tokyo, Japan. It first came to Africa on April 6, 1997, when champion Rocky Maivia pinned Savio Vega in Durban, South Africa. Shelton Benjamin made the first Australian defense on April 7, 2005, pinning Gene Snitsky in Brisbane.
Beginning in 1997, Europe was specifically represented by the WWE European Championship, which merged with the Intercontinental Championship in 2002.
Wrestlers who held the European and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously are called Eurocontinental champions.
WWF North American Heavyweight Champion Pat Patterson became the inaugural champion on September 1, 1979. It was said he had unified his title with a South American Heavyweight Championship, in a tournament in Rio de Janeiro, though this tournament was never actually held.
On October 17, 1999, Chyna became the only woman to hold the Intercontinental Championship by defeating Jeff Jarrett at No Mercy. Following the World Wrestling Federation's purchase of World Championship Wrestling in March 2001, the title was unified with the WCW United States Championship at Survivor Series 2001, causing the United States Championship to become inactive. The United States Champion, Edge, defeated the Intercontinental Champion, Test.
Following the WWF/WWE name change in 2002, the championship was further unified with the European Championship in a ladder match on July 22, and the Hardcore Championship on August 26. The Intercontinental Champion, Rob Van Dam, defeated the European Champion, Jeff Hardy, and the Hardcore Champion, Tommy Dreamer respectively. As a result, Rob Van Dam was named the last European and Hardcore Champion. Then at No Mercy 2002, it was unified with the World Heavyweight Championship. The World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H, defeated the Intercontinental Champion, Kane, causing the Intercontinental Championship to become inactive. However, in May 2003, the title was reactivated by Raw co-General Manager, Stone Cold Steve Austin, and was recommissioned to be a secondary championship to the Raw brand. Shortly after, the WCW United States Championship was reactivated as the WWE United States Championship by the SmackDown brand, making the title its counterpart. 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. 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. 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.
The inaugural champion was Pat Patterson, who as WWF North American Championship, in September 1979 also was declared "South American Heavyweight Champions" after supposedly winning a tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Patterson unified the two Championship into the Intercontinental Championship.
There have been 72 different champions. Chris Jericho had the most reigns with nine. Pedro Morales held the championship for a record total of 619 days and The Honky Tonk Man had the longest uninterrupted reign at 454 days, from June 2, 1987 until August 29, 1988. Dean Douglas had the shortest reign at 13 minutes 52 seconds. Chyna was the only woman to win the title. The youngest champion was Jeff Hardy, who won the championship at 23 years old. The oldest champion was Ric Flair, who won the championship at Unforgiven 2005 at the age of 56. There have been nine vacancies throughout the title's history.
The championship is currently vacant. The most recent champion Bad News Barrett suffered an injury on SmackDown on June 24th, 2014 (aired June 27th), and the title was announced as vacant on the following Raw (June 30). Also announced on Raw, a battle royal will be held at the Battleground pay-per-view on July 20, 2014 for the vacant championship.
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- The 4,181 Intercontinental title matches, from WrestlingData.com
- 1997 WWF events, from TheHistoryOfWWE.com
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- Official WWE Intercontinental Title History
- Wrestling-Titles.com: Intercontinental Championship
- WWE Intercontinental Title Belts: A Guide to the Gold