There have been 105 championship matches over the course of WrestleMania (WM) history. 19 of these matches have featured a defense of the Intercontinental championship (IC). The average time for these matches is 10 minutes and 26 seconds (10m 26s).
The longest IC match in WM history is Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior from WM 6. This match was billed as "Title For Title" because both Hogan's WWF Championship and Warrior's IC Championship were on the line. See that, even in comfy confines of IC history, Hulk Hogan finds a way to take the spotlight away from IC workhorses such as Shawn Michaels, Randy Savage, and Chris Jericho.Here is the complete list of the 19 IC matches in WM history:
- 22m 51s: Hogan vs Warrior (WM 6)
- 18m 47s: Razor vs HBK (WM 10)
- 18m 13s: Tatanka vs HBK (WM 9)
- 14m 35s: Savage vs Steamboat (WM 3)
- 13m 51s: Piper vs Bret Hart (WM 8)
- 13m 35s: Angle vs Jericho vs Benoit (WM 16)
- 13m 32s: Razor vs Jarrett (WM 11)
- 10m 47s: Mr. Perfect vs Big Boss Man (WM 7)
- 9m 47s: Dogg vs Venis vs Goldust vs Shamrock (WM 15)
- 9m 45s: Rock vs Sultan (WM 13)
- 9m 43s: Rude vs Warrior (WM 5)
- 7m 08s: Regal vs Jericho (WM 17)
- 7m 05s: Junkyard Dog vs Valentine (WM 1)
- 6m 30s: Honky Tonk Man vs Beefcake (WM 4)
- 6m 19s: Regal vs RVD (WM 18)
- 5m 18s: Cody Rhodes vs Big Show (WM 28)
- 5m 10s: Savage vs Steele (WM 2)
- 4m 49s: Rock vs Shamrock (WM 14)
- 0m 21s: JBL vs Mysterio (WM 25)
The IC matches were a big deal during the first 11 WM events. Some of the greatest matches in WM history appear on this list, including Ricky Steamboat vs Randy Savage, Razor Ramon vs. Michaels, and Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart. Warrior's matches against Hogan and Rick Rude are two of the more memorable matches in WM history as well. The fact that the IC gold was featured in the main event of WM 6 with Hogan shows how prestigious this championship was during those earlier WM events.
But over the last decade, the WM legacy of this championship has painfully deteriorated into irrelevance. The title has only been defended on two WM events since WM 19. And those two matches were largely afterthoughts, combining for a total time of 5m 39s. To put that in perspective, Maria Menounos has received more match time (6m 48s) at WM events than the IC title has over the last ten years. The Women's championship has been defended for a total time of 28m 22s in that same WM time span.
Keep in mind that the Women's Championship hasn't even been on the line at a WM event in over 5 years. Heck, even the combined performances of Flo Rida and Machine Gun Kelly at WM 28 clocked in at 6m 28s. The IC gold has plummeted a long way down the pecking order.
And with this year's IC match between Barrett and Miz being relegated to the pre-show, the PPV portion of WM 29 will join the long list of all the other recent WM events that failed to include a defense of this formerly prestigious championship.Here are some notable facts regarding these 19 IC matches:
- William Regal opened both WM 17 and WM 18 as a combatant in IC matches. Neither one of his matches made it to the 8-minute mark.
- The only other IC match that ever opened a WM card was Tatanka vs. HBK from WM 9. This was the third longest opening bout in WM history, only trailing Bret vs Owen (WM 10) and the MITB match at WM 23.
- 17 of the 19 IC matches have been one versus one. But the last one versus one IC match that lasted for more than 10 minutes was Razor vs Jarrett at WM 11.
- The five longest IC matches on the list all received a score of at least 3.5 stars from Dave Meltzer. The remaining 14 matches on the list all scored under 3 stars. There is a very strong relationship here between match time and star rating.
- 6 of these 19 matches finished with a heel champion retaining his title due to a disqualification or count out. However there is no clear relationship between this specific type of match finish and the time of the match. 3 of these matches ranked among the 8 longest matches on the list, and the other 3 matches ranked among 8 shortest matches on the list. The average match time was 8m 42s.
- 7 of these 19 matches saw the crowning of a new IC champion. The only heel winner within these 7 title changes was Rick Rude defeating The Ultimate Warrior at WM 5. Once again there doesn't seem to be a clear match time pattern within this subset of matches. 3 of these title changes ranked among the 6 longest matches on the list, and 3 of these title changes ranked among the 6 shortest matches on the list. The average match time was 9m 06s.
It was established earlier that the IC gold has been demoted in a major way at WM in recent years. Some people have theorized that the World Heavyweight Championship (WHC) currently possesses the rank and prestige that the IC gold used to embody during earlier WM events.
Here are the match times for the WHC matches at WM over the last 10 years, in reverse chronological order:
- 0m 18s: Sheamus vs Bryan (WM 28)
- 11m 09s: Edge vs Del Rio (WM 27)
- 15m 47s: Edge vs Jericho (WM 26)
- 14m 42s: Edge vs Cena vs Big Show (WM 25)
- 23m 50s: Edge vs Undertaker (WM 24)
- 15m 47s: Batista vs Undertaker (WM 23)
- 9m 18s: Mysterio vs Orton vs Angle (WM 22)
- 21m 34s: Batista vs HHH (WM 21)
- 24m 49s: Benoit vs HBK vs HHH (WM 20)
- 18m 46s: Booker T vs HHH (WM 19)
So following along with that theory, when exactly did the WHC take over the IC gold's spot?
The best guess to me looks like around WM 26, as that is when names like John Cena, Undertaker, Batista, Triple H, and HBK were no longer associated with the WHC. Big stars like Cena and Undertaker had runs with the WHC in the year leading up to WM 26. But in the year following WM 26, the WHC was put on lesser stars like Jack Swagger, Kane, and Christian.
Regardless of whether there is any truth to that theory or not, the bottom line is that the IC championship scene has almost entirely disappeared off the WM map over the last decade. It can be easily argued that the IC gold is nearly as irrelevant as the Diva's Championship right now when it comes to WrestleMania season.
What do you think about this, CageSiders? How long will it take for the IC title to regain its former prestige on the grandest stage of them all? Or is it time to just give up on that championship?