WWE has provided an update on where GUNTHER stands in his chase to become the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time. It shows that the Ring General has passed “Macho Man” Randy Savage for third place all time, and assuming he leaves SummerSlam next weekend with the title, GUNTHER will have the second-longest run with the gold shortly after.
However, though the Honky Tonk Man, the current record holder, Pedro Morales, and now GUNTHER all stand ahead of him, the Macho Man’s tenure with the strap still represents the best run of any titleholder ever.
When Savage held the championship, it was during an era when WWE ran shows nearly every night, with double shots on the weekend. That means that between Saturday and Sunday, Savage might have wrestled as many as four matches.
Now that’s not to suggest that GUNTHER isn’t putting in the work because he is, as he performs at most WWE live events and is no stranger to working multiple times during the weekend.
For example, on July 29 at a SuperShow in Fort Myers, Florida, the man formerly known as WALTER defended his crown against Matt Riddle before getting disqualified after his Imperium teammates interfered. The Alpha Academy came to Riddle’s aid, and ultimately both sides were pitted against each other in a six-man tag team match, making it double duty for GUNTHER.
But that’s not the same as Savage wrestling twice in one night.
On February 9, 1986, the day after Savage won the Intercontinental title, he wrestled the Junkyard Dog in Landover, Maryland, at a matinee show before traveling over a hundred miles to face World Champ Hulk Hogan in Richmond, Virginia. On that day, Savage faced three opponents: JYD, Hogan, and the roughest of them all, the road.
During his stretch, Savage wasn’t just a champion. He was also a challenger. As Macho crisscrossed the country to defend his title, Savage was also feuding with Hogan over the WWE Championship, working high caliber, premium live event-worthy performances in major markets across North America. Though GUNTHER has been in the ring with multiple former world champions, he’s yet to spend several nights working with Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins, the men standing atop Mount WWE.
However, one advantage GUNTHER has over Savage is that when the Macho Man held the title, the crown was already a prestigious honor, made more respectable by Savage’s commitment to excellence.
When GUNTHER won it, he took on a restoration project as the Intercontinental Title had fallen into irrelevancy, as more than a hundred of its title reigns had lasted less than 100 days since 2000. During his run, GUNTHER has provided the title with stability and prestige, having several performances deserving of being called the match of the night or match of the year.
Yet despite such acclaim for his ring work, GUNTHER has yet to produce a masterpiece that most consider the greatest of all time. In that regard, the Austrian giant may always find himself living under the shadow of Savage, whose Intercontinental battle with Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III nearly 40 years ago is still regarded as the match that all others are judged by.
Then again, it may not matter, as GUNTHER distances himself from the previous titleholders as his length of service grows and through consistent in-ring superiority.
Still, at least for now, Randy Savage remains the cream of the crop.