Zack Ryder Wins IC Title - WrestleMania 32

RANKING THE BEST WRESTLEMANIA INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCHES OF ALL TIME

The WWE Intercontinental Championship is the workhorse title, right? This is the championship you give to the best in-ring workers in WWE historically. This is why the likes of Shawn Michaels, Seth Rollins, Bret Hart, and several others held the title. Anyone who can put on a clinic in the ring likely has held or will hold this title in their WWE career. Of course, others were not as good in the ring yet held the title. Ultimate Warrior anyone? However, for years the IC Title matches were worth checking out at WrestleMania. We started to think, though, what are the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time?

WrestleMania has given us some of the greatest IC Title matches, and we still talk about many of them. Yet the hardest part for many pro-wrestling fans is trying to decide between all of these matches that took place at some point throughout 39 WM events. We decided to take on this difficult task to discuss the best of these matches, and then rank them all to the best of our ability. Trust us when we say that we know we’re probably not going to rank them where each individual reader might. If you don’t like it, be sure to tell us in our comment section below or on our Facebook Page!

 

CHRIS JERICHO vs KURT ANGLE vs CHRIS BENOIT: WRESTLEMANIA XVI

Chris Jericho vs Chris Benoit vs Kurt Angle - WrestleMania 2000
[Image via WWE]

Headed into this event, Kurt Angle managed to win both the WWE Intercontinental & WWE European Championships. Both were essentially mid-card titles at the time, with the IC Title holding more weight. Plus, think about it…you’re the champion of all continents with one of these but the champion of all one with the other. Of course, both Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho wanted to win one or both of these titles as well. This led WWE to force Angle to put both titles on the line at WrestleMania 2000.

The match would be a triple threat, two out of three falls match. The winner of the first fall would be the Intercontinental Champion while the winner of the second fall would be the European Champion. This was a pretty historic moment as it was the first time two titles were on the line in the same match at a WrestleMania since Ultimate Warrior vs Hulk Hogan many years prior.

Angle was relatively new to the company at the time and WWE wanted to get him over quickly, so that was why he held both titles. However, they did not want him to be a champion of any kind coming out of the event. At the same time, he needed to look strong. Therefore, Benoit hit a diving headbutt on Jericho which allowed him to win the IC Title. Later in the match, Benoit went for another diving headbutt but Kurt moved out of the way.

That allowed Jericho to hit the Lionsault on Benoit to capture the European Title. Angle lost both of his titles without being pinned or submitted for either one. Things worked out for him over the next two years though.

 

CHRIS JERICHO vs WILLIAM REGAL: WRESTLEMANIA XVII

Chris Jericho vs William Regal - WrestleMania 17
[Image via WWE]

While William Regal’s match with Rob Van Dam for the IC Title at WrestleMania 18 was good, we feel Regal’s match with Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 17 was the better of the two. We love this match for a few big reasons. First, it comes at a time when the Mania card did not have a ton of great IC Title matches. While we won’t say this is the best IC Title match, it is certainly among the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time.

In terms of quality and work rate, it was A+ in every category. Both Regal & Jericho are great workers, known for being crisp in the ring. The two were wonderful in this match, bringing Regal’s great mat work and Jericho’s multi-style abilities to the forefront. The only thing that holds this match back from being ranked higher is the time they were given. They had just under 8 minutes to deliver a title match that deserved longer.

If they had 15 or even 12 minutes, it is possible that they would have had more momentum to really take this match to another level. Despite this issue, we still rank it among the best simply because it’s deserving of such an honor.

 

ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs HULK HOGAN: WRESTLEMANIA VI

Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania 6
[Image via WWE]

If you thought this whole list was only about workrate and stars, we don’t know what to tell you. We must respect that some matches just rise for different reasons, and it is clear to many why this match is here. At WrestleMania 6, Ultimate Warrior had the Intercontinental Title while Hulk Hogan held the WWE Championship. The two seemed to have the world clamoring to see them against each other eventually.

WWE put them in the ring together at one point during the Rumble and people went nuts for it. That led WWE to think that they could capitalize on the popularity of both men. Since Hogan seemed to be closer to being done at the time, the company needed a new top babyface. Giving Warrior a main event slot against Hogan would be big enough, but what if they put both titles on the line in the same match?

The winner would clearly be the top guy in the business, right? At the time, the energy was massive and fans were on the edge of their seat wondering who would come out the winner. You had the top guy over the last several years in Hogan versus the new guy with a legion of fans behind him in Warrior. They’d get the entire world talking before the match even took place.

While this match involved two men who are certainly not known for their in-ring skills, they actually put on a very entertaining match. We could not rank it tremendously high on our list for obvious reasons. However, it certainly belongs on our list of the Best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches. Some fans still cite this match as one of the best WM main events of all time.

 

DANIEL BRYAN vs BAD NEWS BARRETT vs DEAN AMBROSE vs DOLPH ZIGGLER vs LUKE HARPER vs R-TRUTH vs STARDUST: WRESTLEMANIA XXXI

Daniel Bryan Wins IC Title - WrestleMania 31
[Image via WWE]

Before we start this section of our list, we need to point out something very important. After WrestleMania 17, there were not many great Intercontinental Title matches on the WrestleMania card. This was such a big problem that it technically took 14 years for us to get a match at the event that was worthy of this list. This match was excellent and shines a major spotlight on how little WWE prioritized the Intercontinental Title for over a decade.

They could have given us a match as good as this one for years but never seemed to do so for far too long. Nothing can make up for neglect, but introducing a ladder and a collection of top-tier talent certainly helps. Three performers in this match are now industry leaders: Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose (now Jon Moxley), and Stardust (now Cody Rhodes). It also would be wrong to not point out that Dolph Ziggler was in this match, and gave us great work for years to come.

Just think about that for a second. We were seeing the future in this match and did not even realize it at the time. Daniel Bryan was the big winner at WrestleMania 30 but had to give up the WWE World Heavyweight Title almost as quickly as he won it. He came back to WWE after some time away and was inserted into this match. After 13 minutes of hellish, balls-to-the-wall action, the leader of the YES! Movement came out the victor.

 

ZACK RYDER vs DOLPH ZIGGLER vs KEVIN OWENS vs SAMI ZAYN vs SIN CARA vs STARDUST vs THE MIZ: WRESTLEMANIA XXXII

Zack Ryder Wins IC Title - WrestleMania 32
[Image via Moses Robinson/Getty Images]

How could WWE possibly top the match they did at WrestleMania 31 for WrestleMania 32? Well, they’d bring in some great in-ring workers and rivals. Then put them all in a match together with a ladder again. Ziggler & Stardust were the only men to compete in both. This made many assume, going into the match, that they would more than likely end up pulling down the title.

Yet this match had a collection of impressive superstars. The infusion of another ladder just took things over the top.

Going into the event, Vince McMahon had not quite decided who he wanted to win the match. The Miz was the initial winner, considering he was synonymous with the title at this point. However, WWE wanted to do something similar to the year prior by having a fan favorite win the match. That’s why they had Zack Ryder was chosen to win it. It was a nice move and gave Ryder his WrestleMania Moment that was deserved for years.

Ryder had been in mid-card hell for years and was considered an afterthought. On top of this, Ryder was not supposed to be in this match. WWE saw several wrestlers go down with injuries early that year, including guys like John Cena. It was the biggest WrestleMania venue WWE ever played and those injuries came at a terrible time. Yet it gave the opening for a guy like Ryder to get his moment in the sun.

Sadly, he’d lose the title the following night on WWE RAW to none other than The Miz.

 

SETH ROLLINS vs FINN BALOR vs THE MIZ: WRESTLEMANIA XXXIV

Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz - WrestleMania 34
[Image via WWE]

WrestleMania 34 was one of the most stacked cards you’ll ever see. As a result, WWE needed to have a solid opener to set the tone of the entire show. The Intercontinental Title match involved three of the best workers in WWE, so they had this match go on first. The great part about going on first is that it is typically given a little more time than other matches. You can also steal some from others if needed. This match would get 15 minutes, which is a good bit of time for an IC Title bout.

During this event, Miz was still heavily connected to the IC Title. However, Seth Rollins was now trying to prove that he was the best wrestler on the planet. To do this, he needed to take the Intercontinental Title. While it is debatable to say he became or is now the best on the planet. However, he really made a solid case for that honor in this match. Miz was also now showing the world he was more than just a talker, and Finn Balor had long been proving he was solid in the ring.

We have to give credit to Miz here, as this is arguably his best WrestleMania performance up to that point. He gets knocked for being more of a “character” than a “competitor,” but when the moment calls for it, he can pull off excellent matches.

All three men gave it their all, allowing this to become one of the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time.

 

BRET HART vs “ROWDY” RODDY PIPER: WRESTLEMANIA VIII

Bret Hart vs Roddy Piper - WrestleMania 8
[Image via WWE]

Were you surprised that Bret Hart is on the list? He could make a match with anyone on our staff work when he was in his prime. Also, having Roddy Piper in a match would make it darn good too. He was a brawler who did not mind pulling every dirty trick in the book out to win a match. He was now Intercontinental Champion, which was his first taste of gold in WWE. Piper was not about to let that go without a fight.

He’s an impressive character, yet at this point, Piper was not a heel. He had embraced the fans and became a true fan favorite. However, Hart is a tremendous technician who could be a real threat to Roddy’s reign. Moreover, Piper actually respected Bret. He trained with him at the infamous Hart Family Dungeon.

The big parts of the match include more character-driven material. Hart matches are usually known for their smooth, technicality. Yet for this match, Hart faked being hurt to lure Piper in to check on him, only for Hart to attempt a roll-up. Piper did not take this well and turned on his heel-like persona that would go to any lengths to win. The ref is knocked down in the match leading to a moment where Piper grabs the ring bell and plans to hit Bret with it.

However, this was a different Piper. Did he really want to retain this way? No. He had to beat Hart cleanly. Sadly, he’d still end up losing the title to Hart.

This match is pretty high on the list for the tremendous in-ring work, character moments, and overall show the two put on. We believe this match is clearly one of the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time.

 

RICKY STEAMBOAT vs “MACHO MAN” RANDY SAVAGE: WRESTLEMANIA III

Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage - WrestleMania 3
[Image via WWE]

It’s almost impossible to top this contest and that’s saying something. After all, we have had 36 WrestleMania events since this one. However, this isn’t just a great match but rather it gets points because it’s the first true showstealer in WrestleMania history. It is also, to this day, considered one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time.

This event was all about Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. While that will always have its place in history as a monumental main event, this is the match that true wrestling fans walked away talking about. Ricky Steamboat & Randy Savage were two artists in the ring that night and put on a true clinic. They set the bar for any WrestleMania match to come not just on that night, but at the events following this one.

To come up with what they wanted to do in the match, the two men worked on it at live events. Since they competed at a ton of these throughout the year, untelevised, they decided to try out ideas. If they liked something and felt it worked, they’d add it to the list for their match at WrestleMania 3. For weeks they did this, and by the time the show took place, they had their match mapped out perfectly from start to finish.

This is why that match came off so well, where no beat is missed. It was go, go, go until the end result. They had a little less than 15 minutes to pull off their classic and made every single moment count. In the end, they gave us one of the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time.

 

GUNTHER vs DREW MCINTYRE vs SHEAMUS: WRESTLEMANIA XXXIX

Gunther vs Drew McIntyre vs Sheamus - WrestleMania 39
[Image via WWE]

What an incredible match. Honestly, we had to wonder how these men were able to walk out of this match under their own power. Dear lord, this was a slugfest. Yet we need to acknowledge that this is just what Gunther does. He turns many matches into classics, even with people that most would write off as nothing but a mid-carder. It is one of the hallmarks of Gunther’s in-ring ability.

That “Ring General” moniker is not just a nickname. He lives up to it every time he steps into a ring. Gunther can have classics with smaller guys as well as larger guys. Yet it is the matches with guys near his own size that are often the most fun to watch.

We all knew when this match was announced that it was going to be a three-way war. You have three hard-hitting, physical wrestlers in the same ring at the same time fighting over a championship. None of these competitors are known for their delicate approach in the ring. Sheamus has been making everything look painful for nearly twenty years and Drew McIntyre is much the same way.

This also had the added advantage of two competitors you could talk yourself into taking the title off Gunther. That to us, really adds something to the match. It was a really close call for first on the list. That is a testament to how freakin good thing match was. Easily, it is one of the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches of all time.

 

RAZOR RAMON vs SHAWN MICHAELS: WRESTLEMANIA X

Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels Intercontinental Title Match - WrestleMania 10
[Image via WWE]

What an unreal match.

We have to point out how much this did for the business. It put Razor Ramon on the map as a must-see, big-match guy. It also solidified Shawn Michaels as one of the greatest wrestlers of his generation, if not THE best. Of course, this also put the ladder match on the map in a major way. Funny enough, this match also gave WWE the feeling that they needed to give us ladder matches 300,000 more times over the next 30 years.

Michaels and Ramon laid it all out on the line. They made the main event title match that followed them seem like an afterthought. Everyone knew that no matter how good Bret Hart was, he was not going to pull out a better match with Yokozuna that beat out Michaels/Ramon.

Honestly, one could watch this match on a weekly basis and still catch new information each time you do so. There are several great spots in the match, great moments, and some entire sections are still possible to remember. How often does that happen, right? These men gave everything they had to entertain the crowd that night.

WrestleMania 3 set the bar for Intercontinental Title matches, sure. However, Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels took things to a whole different level. This is why it landed number one on our list of the best WrestleMania Intercontinental Title matches.


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One response to “RANKING THE BEST WRESTLEMANIA INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCHES OF ALL TIME”

  1. Your article helped me a lot, is there any more related content? Thanks!

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