I logged onto Cageside recently and was happy to see an article calling for more lengthy title reigns in WWE. As a longtime fan, it's nice that a section of us still appreciate a prolonged title run.
Because for over 20 years, WWE has devalued nearly all its titles at some point. Even its two world titles have fallen into mediocrity at various times. As fans, we've seen titles passed around like a hot potato along with several start and stop pushes involving a championship.
In recent years, we've seen title reigns fall dormant (totally not going to mention Brock Lesnar or the WWE Women's Tag Team championship). And while I support the push for longer, undisputed sovereignties, they cannot thrive on length alone. Champions must be active, and their challenges must be credible. For it is this that tells compelling stories and builds brighter stars.
And so, as I reflect upon this, I share with you the most spectacular title run I ever saw: Randy Savage and his 13-months of dominance as the Intercontinental Champion.
The "Macho Man" arrived in what was then known as the World Wrestling Federation in 1985. Savage immediately made his intentions clear that he was after the Federation's top two men, World Champ Hulk Hogan and IC holder Tito Santana. Unlike today, where the motives of a new superstar are unknown, Savage would remind the world at every chance that he was there to be a champion.
Savage fulfilled his golden prophecy on February 8, 1986, when Macho Madness steamrolled over Santana. From there, the IC title would reach heights it has never seen again.
Over the next 413 days, the new Intercontinental kingpin wrestled in over 300 matches. The challengers ranged from Troy Martin to Koko B. Ware and Billy Jack Haynes. He tussled with Hall of Famers such as Bruno Sammartino, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Jake Roberts. Regardless of the opponent, Macho's matches were often thrilling affairs highlighted by his colorful personality and wrestling ability. Hell, he even made a George Steele match worth watching.
What also made Savage's run so special is that, when looking at it with the eye of more than just a casual observer, Savage shared the spotlight with his dance partner. He gave as much as he got, and even when he won, he still managed to make his partner look like a serious competitor.
When Savage wasn't defending the IC strap, he was in main events around the country challenging the Hulkster for the world title. Savage would become the World Champ two years later. But nights spent grinding it out as champ and challenger helped put the Madness on equal ground as Hulkamania.
As Savage's time as IC champ came to a close, he found what every memorable champion needs to punctuate their dominance: a great rival. The Larry Bird to Savage's Magic Johnson would come in the form of Ricky Steamboat. When "The Dragon" turned up the heat on the champion, Savage - in character - attempted to end Steamboat's career. Steamboat would ultimately return and went on to dethrone Savage in what is still considered the greatest match of all time at WrestleMania III.
Despite that loss, Savage would go on to have a Hall of Fame career. To this day, he remains the third-longest reigning IC champion in WWE history, two spots behind the Honky Tonk Man, whose own stranglehold with the belt remains the longest ever nearly five decades later. But today, the newest champion, GUNTHER, stands to threaten both men's place in IC history.
Still, no matter who comes next or how long they hold the gold, no one will ever surpass the magnificence set forth by the "Macho Man."