428966.jpgGrowing up with WWF in the mid 90’s, The Intercontinental Title was of great importance and from where I sat, I always considered whoever wore it to be the biggest star in the business behind the top 2 or 3 guys chasing the world title.

The earliest memory of wrestling that I have is the Royal Rumble in 1993 and on that card it was Shawn Michaels wrestling his former tag team partner Marty Jannetty for the IC title. There was just something about the prestige of that title that elevated the match to another level and made their feud interesting.

I watched as Shawn defended his title for the following months (mostly with DQ’s) but the emotion that he put behind his victories and his willingness to keep the title at all costs, totally sold it’s worth to me. A fun match against Tatanka that opened Wrestlemania IX with that cool white belt is remembered fondly by me.

During the 90’s, for the most part the title kept it’s prestige and was treated with awesome respect and usually produced the best 1 or 2 matches on any given card.

The awesome HBK vs. Razor Ramon ladder match at Wrestlemania X probably being the title’s peak as two wrestlers who believed they were the real IC champion slugged it out in the most insane match I had ever seen by that point.

At Wrestlemania alone, the title has seen classic bouts such as the above mentioned ladder match, the incredible Steamboat vs. Savage match at Wrestlemania III that many considered the greatest match in the show’s history,  the famous Warrior vs. Hogan Title for Title match where the IC champ overcame all odds to beat the WWF champ at Wrestlemania VI, the great Jericho/Angle/Benoit match at Wrestlemania 2000 where three relative newcomers to the federation but on a wrestling classic.

Some idiotic booking that saw the potential classic matches Regal vs. RVD, Y2J vs. Regal and The Rock vs. Shamrock matches only go around 6 or 7 minutes between Wrestlemania’s 14 and 18 probably helped speed up the demise of the title’s prestige at the grand daddy of them all.

Since WM18, 4 Wrestlemania’s haven’t had an IC title bout on their card and with the latest happenings on Raw where Umaga pinned Jeff Hardy for the title….. his scheduled match in the “Battle of the Billionaires” bout is likely to be non-title against ECW champ Bobby Lashley.

Which means that Wrestlemania 23 will mark the 5th time in a row that the title hasn’t been defended at the WWE’s flag ship ppv. The United States title which has it’s background in the WWE’s former bitter rivals WCW has had two title defenses in that time and with Chris Benoit holding the belt, the chances are it will get a showcase match at the event.

It just goes to show the decline of what was the WWE’s second biggest belt for so many years and their disinterest in making the title have any meaning. They have the upper mid card talent to make the title mean something… with Nitro, Hardy, Dykstra, Flair, Carlito, Masters and Crazy all on RAW, if they could only book some good feuds correctly and have some more competetive matches on the show.

The Money in the Bank ladder match seems to have killed off the IC title in recent years, for a match that reveals in spectacular bumbs and crazy insane risk taking manoeveurs. There was a time when this match (Wrestlemania X) would have been for the IC title and would have been competetive enough just for that, but that time has since past and the belt’s prestige is not enough to have that type of match.

Sad really, because when HBK, Bulldog, Hart, Rock, Austin, Jericho and Benoit held the title it use to mean something and elevated their careers to a higher level. Now the title did nothing for Hardy or Nitro because the WWE have killed off it’s meaning.