A multi-brand global enterprise, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has several championship titles across Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and NXT UK. Titles available to main roster members of Raw and SmackDown are: WWE Universal Championship, WWE Championship, Raw Women’s Championship, SmackDown Women’s Championship, Women’s Tag Team Championship, Raw Tag Team Championship, SmackDown Tag Team Championship, Intercontinental Championship, United States Championship, and 24/7 Championship.
While it isn’t the most prestigious title in the WWE, the Intercontinental Championship has been in existence longer than any other title, except the WWE Championship and the United States Championship. Below are five noteworthy facts about the title and its history.
Its Origin Includes an Inside Joke
A professional wrestling visionary, Pat Patterson is credited with creating the concept of the Royal Rumble and worked many years with WWE as a backstage producer and on-screen character. He was a renowned in-ring performer who holds distinction as the first-ever Intercontinental Champion. Patterson defeated Ted DiBiase for the North American Championship in June 1979 and subsequently won a tournament for the South American Heavyweight Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He defeated Johnny Rodz in the finals. The two belts were then combined and renamed the Intercontinental Championship. At least, that was the story WWE told.
In reality, there was no tournament in Rio de Janeiro. Instead, WWE had sought to elevate Patterson by giving him a more prestigious championship and created a fictional tournament as a means to help make him a bigger star. The selection of Rio de Janeiro for the made-up tournament was, according to longtime producer and WWE executive Bruce Prichard, part of a joke on Patterson because of his inability to properly pronounce the Brazilian city due to his accent. Patterson, whose real name was Pierre Clermont, was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Patterson held the title for 233 days before losing it to Ken Patera in 1980. It was his only Intercontinental Championship reign.
The Longest Reign Was 454 Days
While Patterson is remembered as the first-ever WWE Intercontinental Champion, his 233-day reign is far from the longest of all time. Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Mr. Perfect, and Shelton Benjamin have all held the title for longer periods of time, as has record holder The Honky Tonk Man. The Elvis-inspired wrestler won the title from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat on an episode of Superstars in 1987 and held the title for 454 days until losing it to the Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1988. It was his only title reign.
Chris Jericho Won It Nine Times
The Miz, who last held the title for an eight-day run in 2018, is an eight-time Intercontinental Champion, but is one reign away from tying Chris Jericho’s record of nine. Jericho, who is now with rival All Elite Wrestling, won the Intercontinental Championship for the ninth time at Extreme Rules in 2009. He held the title for 21 days before losing it to Rey Mysterio. Jericho won the title for the first time a decade prior at Armageddon. His reigns, however, have been relatively short. His longest period as champion was a 111-day stretch in 2008.
The First Triple Threat Match Was for the Intercontinental Championship
The triple threat match is now a common match type designed to protect current champions. There have been 17 triple threat matches at WrestleMania, with standout matches including Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXX) and Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (WrestleMania 20). Both were for the World Heavyweight Championship. However, the first-ever triple threat match in WWE was for the Intercontinental Championship.
Triple H, Owen Hart, and Goldust competed for the title on the June 23, 1997, episode of Monday Night Raw. Patterson, the inaugural champion, was special guest referee for the match. Hart pinned Triple H to successfully defend the title.
Chyna Was the Only Woman to Win It
Known as the “Ninth Wonder of the World,” Chyna broke ground in WWE by regularly competing against men. She debuted as a bodyguard to Triple H in 1997 and, not long after, wrestled against the likes of Mark Henry, Kane, Test, Val Venis, and “Road Dogg” Jesse James. After a pair of unsuccessful attempts to win the Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Jarrett in 1999, she won the title from “Double J” at No Mercy. Chyna held the title for eight days before losing it to Eddie Guerrero. She remains the only woman to win the championship.
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