WrestleMania is almost here which means champions and challengers will go at it in hopes of achieving their dreams by being champion when WrestleMania goes off air. Two championships have been a key part since the very beginning of WrestleMania, bringing the companies best male wrestlers in history together to hopefully achieve their dreams of one day being champion. At one time, this championship was almost a guarantee that you would enter the chase for the big one someday, but it also holds its own prestige to this day. Here is the history of the WWE Intercontinental Championship changing hands at WrestleMania:
WWE Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania
WrestleMania III: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat defeats “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) To Become the New Intercontinental Champion
Viewed as one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time, the champion Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat went to battle for the coveted Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania III. An in-ring match classic seen by so many wrestlers and fans as the goal of sorts for any future WrestleMania match. “That was the match that I wanted to try to equal, or at least come close to having as great a match as Randy had at WrestleMania” said Bret Hart on the match in a Macho Man DVD. These two had a chemistry that many wrestlers dream of having, as this match would find it’s finish when George “The Animal” Steele would push Savage off the top rope when he’d attempt to use the ring bell on Steamboat, allowing “The Dragon” some time to get his wits, rolling up Savage for the three count and to become the new Intercontinental Champion. Wrestlers to this very day bring up what this match means to them, as it simply was one of the best in history and the first changing of the Intercontinental Championship at the show of shows.
WrestleMania V: Rick Rude Defeats The Ultimate Warrior (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
The undeniable, unbeatable Ultimate Warrior would go into WrestleMania V as the Intercontinental Champion and the clear favorite to retain when he would face “Ravishing” Rick Rude for the company’s number two championship. Rude would have a game-changer that would prove to do so later on in the match in his manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. As the match would come to a close following Warrior dominating much of the match, Heenan would pull the leg of the Warrior when he would life up Rude for the suplex, allowing Rude to fall on top. With Heenan still holding the leg of the Warrior, making it difficult for him to kick out, Rude would be on him long enough to win the match, marking the Warrior’s first pinfall loss in the WWE and leaving the crowd certainly shocked. And while Warrior would certainly make Heenan pay, all that matters was that Rude was the new Intercontinental Champion.
WrestleMania VIII: Bret Hart Defeats Roddy Piper (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
From friends to foes, the story between “Hot Rod” and “The Hitman” developed all the way back at the Royal Rumble PPV when Bret Hart would lose the title and Roddy Piper would win it back the same night. When it came to this matchup, Roddy refused in hopes of his friendship with Hart and his family, but Bret demanded the match. This brought out the more devious side of Piper that many were used to. As this match went on, Piper showed much of his villainous side that he said would come to retain his championship. Towards the end of this one, Piper threatened to hit Bret with the ring bell, reconsidering it consistently, not knowing if he wanted to turn on his friend like that or not. Ultimately, he would toss the bell outside the ring, locking in the sleeper on Hart. However, Hart would bump into the corner of the ring, falling back and rolling up Roddy for the three count while the sleeper was still locked in, marking a new champion in “The Hitman”.
WrestleMania 2000: Chris Benoit Defeats Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
It would be eight years before we would see a new Intercontinental Champion at WrestleMania. At the 2000 edition of the big show, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and champion Kurt Angle would face each other in hopes of leaving WrestleMania as both European and Intercontinental Champion. This unique match would be a two-fall bout for both of Kurt Angle’s titles. In the first fall, the Intercontinental Championship would be on the line and that is where we come in. Benoit would win the Intercontinental Championship by taking advantage of Kurt Angle’s crossface chicken-wing on Chris Jericho that seemingly put him out. Benoit would take out Angle long enough for him to hit the diving headbutt on Jericho to win the championship in the first fall of this one.
WrestleMania X8: Rob Van Dam Defeats William Regal (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
One of a Kind! The high-flying fan favorite Rob Van Dam and the rugged, physical William Regal battled it out at WrestleMania X8 when Regal would put his Intercontinental Championship on the line. While this match was short in time, it kicked off the grandest of them all with hard-hitting fast action. The physicality of Regal and the explosive expertise of RVD made this short on a fun one. Regal would come close to retaining when he’d curl up RVD like a ball with the Regal-Plex but would not be enough. Regal would then go for his Power of the Punch with brass knuckles in tow, but RVD would find the wherewithal to hit a kick Regal before the punch would connect, allowing RVD to hit the Five-Star Frog Splash in thunderous fashion to capture the Intercontinental Champion at the start of WrestleMania.
WrestleMania 25: Rey Mysterio Defeats JBL (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
Following a run of six years where the Intercontinental Championship would not even be defended at WrestleMania due to the championship at one time being deactivated as well as the champion usually competing in the Money in the Bank ladder match, the once prestigious Intercontinental Championship would finally be defended at WrestleMania 25. JBL would defend the championship against his long-time rival Rey Mysterio. JBL would hit Mysterio before the ring of the bell with a big boot as he would demand the referee to start the match. Once Rey would get to his feet, Rey would surprise JBL with an enzuigiri, hitting him onto the ropes and dialling up the 619. He would connect with the splash from the top and shock JBL in just 21 seconds to claim his first Intercontinental Championship.
WrestleMania XXVIII: Big Show Defeats Cody Rhodes (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
After once again not being defended for a two-year span, Big Show would take on champion Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship. Much of the build to this one would be Cody Rhodes laughing at the fact that Big Show had never won a singles match at WrestleMania in his career and would only ever choke and embarrass himself. He would mock Big Show all the way up until their match at WrestleMania 28, where Big Show would shut down all of what Rhodes continued to say. Big Show would connect with the Knockout Punch on the mouth of Rhodes, knocking him out and winning his first Intercontinental Championship, also marking his WrestleMania moment.
WrestleMania 29: The Miz Defeats Wade Barrett (c) to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
Just the year following, The Miz would capture his second Intercontinental Championship. However, the Intercontinental Championship match would be relegated to the Pre-Show this time around. Miz and the defending champion Wade Barrett would have a physical match that would keep the crowd in it. Barrett would go for the Bull Hammer finish on Miz to be reversed into the Figure Four Lock that was handed down to him by Ric Flair prior. Barrett would have enough in him to get out of it however, reaching for the bottom rope to force the rope break. Miz would kick out of a Wasteland by Barrett after the fact, which would enrage the champion and allowed Miz to take him down and apply the Figure Four once again. Barrett would tap and The Miz would become the Intercontinental Champion for just his second of eight times.
WrestleMania 31: Daniel Bryan Defeats Bad News Barrett (c), Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, R-Truth, and Stardust to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
One year removed from his underdog victory in the main event of WrestleMania 30, Daniel Bryan would be inserted into the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match that would be a great start of the show. Daniel Bryan was the clear fan favorite going into this one, as the “YES!” chants would continue to reign down at Levi Stadium, yet it would not be easy for the former champion. A match for of crash and fall moments, it would come down to the champion Barrett and the leader of the YES Movement, Daniel Bryan. Barrett would try to kill the dreams of Bryan and the WWE faithful with another Bull Hammer, but Bryan would dodge it, connecting with the flying knee. He would then climb to the top of the ladder to unlatch the championship, winning his first and only Intercontinental Championship in his storied career.
WrestleMania 32: Zack Ryder Defeats Kevin Owens (c), Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Sin Cara, Stardust, and The Miz to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
For the second year in a row, the Intercontinental Championship would be defended in a seven-man Ladder Match. This time around, Kevin Owens would defend the championship against his rival at the time, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Sin Cara, Stardust, and Zack Ryder. Going into this one, it was fair to guess that maybe Sami Zayn would win the championship as he was just called up from NXT. Or maybe against all odds, Kevin Owens would somehow retain the championship. And that is exactly what we were seeing at the end of the match, the two rivals going at it on top of the ladder. They would both eventually fight each other down, where Zayn would hit Owens with a devastating suplex onto a ladder. This is when the crowd began to realize it may be Sami’s chance to win. As Zayn reached for the title, The Miz would appear at the bottom to the sadness of the WrestleMania fans, pushing him off and climbing the ladder to win the championship once again. He would sit on top with a smirk on his face, and from off the camera, Zack Ryder would come from behind and push The Miz off the ladder. Zack Ryder would achieve his WrestleMania moment when he would grab the championship, becoming the new Intercontinental Champion.
WrestleMania 34: Seth Rollins Defeats The Miz (c) and Finn Balor to Become the New Intercontinental Champion
Just last year, one of the best Intercontinental Championship matches in the history of WrestleMania took place when The Miz took on the challengers of Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. From Seth’s Game ofThrones-themedd entrance to the final ring of the bell, these three men put on a show. Both Rollins and Balor would bring out the big time moves, with suicide dives and somersault planchas to go around, these two were putting it all on the line to be called Intercontinental Champion. However, The Miz would be far from out of it considering he was an 8-time champion. As the match was finally coming to a close, Finn Balor would push The Miz off the top rope, allowing him to hit the Coup de Grace and come as close as he could to win the championship. Yet, as he went for the pin, Rollins would stomp Balor into the Miz’s back, taking him out of it. Rollins, with the crowd chanting “Burn it Down”, would hit the stomp on Miz, pinning him for the three count and winning his first Intercontinental Championship in a simply incredible match.
As we move closer and closer to WrestleMania, we prepare for another Intercontinental Championship match at WrestleMania between the current champion “The Almighty” Bobby Lashley and “The Extraordinary Man who can do Extra Ordinary Things”, Finn Balor. Can Bobby Lashley retain his championship? Or can Finn Balor add his name to this list?
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