December 7, 2008
Matt Peddycord

WWE: The History of the Intercontinental Championship – Disc One
Released: 11/25/2008

Your host is Todd Grisham. He mentions how almost every major superstar in the WWE has won the Intercontinental title on their way to the top. Grisham then explains the origin of the IC belt where Pat Patterson won the North American championship and the South American championship down in Rio de Janeiro (the place where all fake title wins happen!) to make up the new title. Let me just say that as far as Todds go, Pettingell > Grisham.

WWF Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson vs. Ted DiBiase – (Madison Square Garden - 10/22/79)

Vince McMahon is on commentary. HUGE stall job from Patterson to start. I mean, it puts both Larry Zbyszko and Michael Hayes to shame. DiBiase finally has enough and kicks the crap out of Patterson. He goes after the arm for a while. Once he breaks free from an armbar, Patterson misses a corner charge and runs shoulder-first into the ringpost. DiBiase grabs the Abdominal Stretch, but Patterson falls into the ropes to break it up. DiBiase doesn’t let that stop him and reapplies the hold in the the center of the ring. Patterson claws DiBiase in the face to get loose. He chokes DiBiase down in the corner, which only pisses him off more. DiBiase hits a nice dropkick, but whiffs on the second one. Patterson goes into his tights for some brass knux. Just as he goes to nail DiBiase, DiBiase hits him back to take the knux off Patterson. Now DiBiase puts on the knux, but gets tripped up in the corner by Patterson for the cheap pin. (7:55) DiBiase would soon return to the NWA territories where he had the chance to become a star. **

WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera (w/The Grand Wizard) vs. Pedro Morales – (Madison Square Garden - 10/20/80)

You talk about a hated guy: Ken Patera was a HATED individual in the early ’80s WWF. His matches with Backlund and Morales drew some amazing heat that the WWE only wished they could generate today. He’s like present day Chris Jericho times thirty. Morales goes NUTS on Patera to start with windmill punches to get the crowd really going. Patera eats the ringpost, but elbows Morales in the gut to take over and then throws him over the top rope to the floor! Patera follows him out to give him an added slam to the concrete. Once Morales makes it to the apron, Patera returns the favor by sending him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Patera takes Morales into the ring for a front facelock on the mat. Morales tries to backdrop out of it a few times and finally does. Patera cuts off the comeback with a knee to the gut and a suplex. Slow cover gets two. Patera grabs a bearhug. That gets a few nearfalls on the mat. Morales ear claps Patera to escape the hold, which just angers Patera. Both guys trade shots on each other while shoving the ref around. They end up tossing him out to the floor to get them both disqualified. (15:54) They don’t really care because the fight continues after the bell. Pat Patterson, Rick Martel, Dominic DeNucci, Buddy Rose, and others come down to break up the fight. I love how Patterson keeps it kayfabe and wants to punch the daylights out of Buddy Rose. Good stuff from these two. ***¼

WWF Intercontinental Champion Pedro Morales vs. Don Muraco (w/Capt. Lou Albano) – (Madison Square Garden – 12/28/82)

Gorilla Monsoon joins Vince McMahon on commentary. It just goes to show you that the early IC title changes weren’t very memorable. For some reason, they were mostly pretty short while the matches that led to the title changes were given more time. To catch you up to speed, Morales defeated Patera in December 1980. Muraco beat Morales in June 1981. Morales won it back from Muraco in November 1981 and has been the IC champion ever since. Capt. Lou gets escorted to the locker room to prevent any foul play. Morales grabs a headlock to start. To turn the tide, Muraco’s trick knee acts up and goes right into the balls of Morales. Muraco doesn’t waste any time and keeps Morales down in the corner. He catapults Morales into the bottom rope and then gives him a swinging neckbreaker for two. Suplex gets him two. Muraco throws Morales over the top rope face-first onto a chair! OUCH. Muraco heads out and picks up Morales for a running slam into the guardrail! While Morales rolls around on the floor in pain, Muraco hops on the middle rope to taunt the crowd. Muraco gives Morales a suplex from the apron for two. Morales fires back, but takes a dropkick out to the floor. Muraco sends Morales into the ringpost and pounds away. As Muraco rolls back into the ring, Morales picks up a chair and slams it against the guardrail! Look out, Don. You’ve got an angry Puerto Rican on your hands! Morales proceeds to beat the crap out of Muraco all over the place. Once they make it over to the corner, the referee takes an inadvertent elbow to the face from Morales. The ref’s cool with that, but then Muraco purposefully kicks him down to throw the match out. (14:25) Another fun brawl where the crowd was rabid for everything Morales. Muraco would soon regain the belt from Morales in January 1983 to have one of the best and most memorable IC title reigns of all-time. ***

WWF Intercontinental Champion Don Muraco (w/Capt. Lou Albano) vs. Jimmy Snuka (w/Buddy Rogers) – Cage Match – (Madison Square Garden – 10/17/83)

They show an awesome pre-match interview with Don Muraco that sums up his whole IC title run very well. Gorilla Monsoon and Pat Patterson are on commentary. This is the famous cage match where Snuka lands the splash off the cage on Muraco. He had tried it once before on Backlund, but missed and cost him the WWF title three years earlier. Odd to think of Buddy Rogers as Snuka’s manager because he’s supposed to be such a beast of a man and the collaboration doesn’t make sense. I see Mick Foley! Snuka controls to start with punches and chops. Muraco buries a knee and catapults Snuka into the cage to bust him open. Muraco grinds the bloody forehead into the steel, but runs into a knee in the corner. They fight up to the top turnbuckle ending with Snuka chopping Muraco away. Muraco winds up slamming Snuka down and heads for the door. Snuka tries to stop him when Muraco’s trick knee acts up again and Snuka’s balls get rocked. Instead of walking out the door, Muraco continues to punish Snuka. He pays for it with a hard whip reversal into the corner and then gets thrown into the cage so he can blade as well. Snuka gets fired up and slams Muraco for a flying fist drop off the middle rope. Muraco receives a Jumping Headbutt as he staggers back and falls through the door to win the match, making Muraco look like the luckiest man on the planet. (6:46) Snuka can’t believe he lost like that and brings Muraco back into the cage for the SUPERFLY SPLASH off the cage! That jolts MSG into a frenzy as they can not believe what just happened. Snuka takes the belt and holds it up over Muraco’s bloody and beaten body. Only some people remember the match, but everybody remembers the splash off the cage. **

WWF Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Tito Santana – Lumberjack Match – (Madison Square Garden – 3/17/85)

We’ve got Gorilla Monsoon and Gene Okerlund on commentary. Our lumberjacks are as follows: King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, Junkyard Dog, Barry O, Matt Borne, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, Rocky Johnson, Charlie Fulton, and Terry Gibbs. Thanks, Graham! It’s like a who’s who of lumberjacks. Valentine pearl harbors Santana to start, but Tito comes back with a hard right off the ropes. Valentine rolls out to the heels and its Ricky Steamboat who comes by and shoves Valentine back onto the apron. Valentine begs off and takes an atomic drop and a knee lift puts him back on the floor. JYD pushes Valentine back in for a ten-count corner punch, but Valentine counters with an inverted atomic drop. Tito fires back and levels Valentine with a jumping skull cracker. Valentine jumps out of the ring once Santana calls for the Figure-Four, but the babyfaces quickly throw him back in. Flying elbow smash to the back of Valentine’s head gets two. Valentine tries to escape through the crowd, but he’s stopped again by the faces. Back in, Santana runs into a knee in the corner for two. Valentine hammers Tito all around the ring with those forearms for a few nearfalls. He goes after the knee of Santana and once he starts to come back, Valentine throws him outside to Big John Studd who promptly places Tito back in the ring. He does it again on the other side of the ring, but the faces help Tito out. Valentine goes back to the knee and attempts the FIGURE-FOUR, but Santana cradles him up for 1-2-NO! Big running forearm shot looks like it might KO Tito, but he kicks out at two. Valentine charges at Santana, but Santana picks up his feet and launches Valentine face-first onto the top turnbuckle. Tito fires back with left and rights and hits a suplex. Slow cover gets two. FIGURE-FOUR attempt by Santana is blocked. Valentine tries to hotshot up the aisleway, but he’s stopped again by the babyface crew. Running forearm by Tito connects and now we’ve got a FIGURE-FOUR! Jimmy Hart has the ref distracted as Big John Studd helps pull Valentine by himself to the ropes. Santana reaches down and grabs at Studd as Valentine regroups and hammers Tito from behind. They trade blows until Valentine gets shot off into the ropes off a headlock and they crash into one another. Valentine falls on top of Santana for the 1-2-3. (15:00) Another great brawl as Valentine utilized the lumberjack gimmick to perfection. ***½

WWF Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana vs. Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) – (Boston Garden – 2/8/86)

YES! The match I’ve been waiting for. Very mixed reaction for Tito when he holds up the belt, by the way. Strong series of tie-ups to start. Savage stalls a little bit on the floor to work the crowd, but they fight back into the ring. Santana catches Savage in the gut on the way down off a double-ax handle. Savage avoids a FLYING JALAPENO and draws Santana around the ring so he can lower the boom on the way back inside. Santana quickly comes back with an atomic drop for two. Savage goes to the eyes to take over with a clothesline and a flying double-ax handle. Savage turns this match up to eleven and throws Santana to the floor for another flying double-ax handle! Santana blocks a turnbuckle smash on the apron and returns the favor. Flying elbow smash from Tito connects for 1-2-NO! Tito runs into a knee in the corner for two. When Santana presses Savage off him, Savage lands on the referee. Santana gets a quick inside cradle, but ref Danny Davis is slow to count for 1-2-NO! Savage catches Santana with a back elbow, but misses a knee drop! And here we go. FIGURE-FOUR! Savage reverses the hold into the ropes and tries to pull out a foreign object from his tights. Santana stops that with a suplex and then attempts another Figure-Four, but Savage kicks him off and slides out to the apron again. Santana tries to pull him back in, but Danny Davis gets in his way to allow Savage to put on the taped knux. He swings and misses Tito, but nails him on the way back in during a back suplex. Savage covers for 1-2-3. New champ. (10:31) Savage gets rid of the evidence just as the ref raises his hand in victory. When Danny Davis would become the evil referee in 1987, they would use this finish as one of the seeds that led to his turn. Non-stop action just as you would expect. ****

WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. Ricky Steamboat (w/George “The Animal” Steele) – (WrestleMania III 3/29/87)

From my WrestleMania III recap: In late November, Steamboat challenged Savage to an IC title match on Superstars. As the match progressed, Savage became desperate and afraid that he would lose to Steamboat. In his moment of desperation, he draped Steamboat on the guardrail and came off the top turnbuckle with a double-ax handle! This crushed Steamboat’s larynx and put him out of action for several months. The WWF wisely kept all physical contact between Steamboat and Savage on TV from happening to give this match such a HUGE build, which is a major detail that seems to left out of wrestling these days. Steamboat counters a waistlock to start, and then sees that Steele is too close to Elizabeth so he climbs out and takes her over to the other side of the ring. Back in, Steamboat delivers a pair of armdrags and gives Savage a quick chokelift. Savage bails, but Steamboat chases him into the ring and gets nailed. Savage chokes away in the corner and then charges, but Steamboat moves out of the way. Steamboat works an arm wringer, but Savage whips him into the ropes and gives him a back elbow. Steamboat gets dumped and then Savage elbows him in the throat on the apron. Savage snapmares Steamboat back in and delivers a knee drop to the throat for two. Steamboat blocks a head to the buckle and returns the favor to Savage. Steamboat chops away and connects with a crossbody for two. Steamboat gets an armdrag and a couple shoulderblock near-falls. Savage sidesteps the third shoulderblock and catches Steamboat with a running knee to the back. Savage tosses Steamboat over the top rope, but Steamboat skins the cat back in the ring and then takes a clothesline out to the floor. Savage sneaks up from behind Steamboat and sends him into the front row with another running knee! Savage KNOWS he can’t beat Steamboat by a pinfall or submission, so he’s trying to get the countout win. I LOVE that. Steele tries to revive Steamboat and helps him out by picking him up and placing him back into the ring. Savage tosses Steamboat out AGAIN and heads up top for the dreaded double-axe handle and he connects! Instead of allowing the ten-count to happen, Savage gets impatient and tosses Steamboat back in the ring. He heads up to the top again and delivers another double-axe handle, then gives Steamboat a running elbow for two. Hotshot from Savage gets two. Atomic drop from Savage gets two. Suplex from Savage gets two. Haha, poor Dave Hebner. Steamboat comes back with chops, but Savage goes to the eyes and delivers a gutwrench suplex for two. Steamboat flips out of a back suplex and then back drops Savage out to the floor. CRAZY BUMP! Steamboat brings Savage back in the ring and goes up top. He LEAPS over Dave Hebner and catches Savage with a Judo chop! (Possibly the most poetic moment in wrestling history) Steamboat covers for a close near-fall! The crowd even thought it was over. Double-arm chop from Steamboat gets two. Savage rolls out onto the apron and gets knocked out to the floor. Steamboat chases Savage back into the ring and delivers a sunset flip from the apron for two. Steamboat gets several near-falls from various rollups and then sends Savage headfirst into the ringpost with a catapult for another two! Steamboat rolls him up again for two, but then Savage pulls him back by his tights into a rollup for two. Steamboat fires away on Savage, but then gets yanked shoulder-first into the ringpost. Hebner gets bumped and Savage sets up for the MACHO ELBOW! He connects, but there’s no ref! Since there’s no ref, Savage goes out and grabs the ring bell! He heads up top, but Steele snatches the bell away from him. Savage kicks him in the head and grabs the bell back and climbs up top again, so Steele shoves him off. Savage goes for another slam to possibly set up for another Macho Elbow, but Steamboat counters it into a small package for the three-count to win the WWF Intercontinental title. (14:35) If there ever was a perfect match, this was it. From top to bottom, start to finish, there’s none better even to this day. Psychology, booking, workrate; it’s all done to perfection. *****

WWF Intercontinental Champion Ricky Steamboat vs. Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart) – (Superstars – 6/2/87)

This match doesn’t actually air until the 13th of June episode. Vince and Jesse are on commentary. Since family became more important to Steamboat than McMahon’s plans, he was forced to drop the title to somebody and it ended up being the completely random Honky Tonk Man who hadn’t beaten anybody that was a top IC title contender. HTM blindsides Steamboat to start and throws him out so he can skin-the-cat. Jimmy Hart tries to whack him in the gut with his megaphone, but Steamboat kicks him away. Steamboat flips back in and backdrops Honky to the floor. A back suplex from the apron brings him back in for a jumping chop. Steamboat proceeds to break HTM down like it’s a typical Steamboat squash match. Steamboat delivers an O’Connor Roll out of the corner and gets shot off into the turnbuckle to allow Honky Tonk to take over. He hits a neck snap on the top rope, but misses an elbow drop off the middle rope. Steamboat chops back, but telegraphs a backdrop to set him up for the SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL. Steamboat backdrops out of that and avoids a charge in the corner. He hits the Flying Judo Chop for the eventual win, but Jimmy Hart is on the apron. Steamboat grabs Hart and avoids a charge from Honky so he can dropkick him into Jimmy Hart. From there, Honky Tonk blocks an inside cradle by hooking the ropes. With Steamboat’s shoulders pinned to the mat, Honky Tonk Man gets the three-count for the MEGA HUGE upset. (3:54) And thus begins the most long and frustrating IC title reign ever. *½

WWF Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Ultimate Warrior – (WWF SummerSlam – 8/29/88)

Since Ron Bass did us all a favor and took Beefcake out of action for a while, Honky Tonk gets cocky and sends out an open challenge. Big mistake, pal. America’s hero Ultimate Warrior channels the spirit of Ronald Reagan and storms the ring. Before Honky even knows what the heck is happening to him, Warrior delivers the WARRIOR SPLASH and gets the three-count. (0:31) Thus ends the longest IC title reign to date of 454 days. After taking countout losses, DQ losses and cheating like a mad man to win every title defense, the luck of the Honky Tonk Man finally runs out. Honky’s career would never peak again after this night. He would go back to what he was originally known for: jobbing. As for Warrior, a star was born and he instantly became the third most popular guy in the company outside of Hogan and Savage. Hardly what you would call a match, yet it was a standout moment in wrestling history. ½*

WWF Intercontinental Champion Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Ultimate Warrior – (WWF SummerSlam – 8/28/89)

Rude defeated Warrior at WrestleMania V for the IC title and has tried, along with Andre the Giant of the Heenan family, to eliminate the painted-up crazy man from wrestling throughout the year. Warrior received a rematch and promised victory, so can he deliver? Let’s find out! Rude tries to stick and run to start, but Warrior NO-SELLS and clotheslines Rude out to the apron. Rude attempts a sunset flip back in, but Warrior blocks it and press Rude up and throws him out to the floor for our CRAZY ’80s bump of the night! Warrior follows him out and hits him in the back with the IC title. The ref Joey Marella doesn’t call for the bell because according to Tony, you can do whatever you want when it’s not in the ring. Jesse delivers a classic comeback by saying, “You’re going to tell me you can SHOOT somebody as long as its outside the ring? You’re even dumber than Monsoon! Here I thought Gorilla was the STUPIDEST MAN ALIVE!” Great stuff. Warrior slams Rude down on the floor and then brings him back in for a flying double-sledge for 1-2-NO! Warrior whips Rude from corner to corner and then slams him for two. Warrior suplex gets two. Warrior delivers a bunch of atomic drops, but then gets crotched up on the top-rope. Rude begins work on Warrior’s back for a while with a suplex and then sits on his back while applying a rear chinlock. That gets an eventual two. Rude tries for the RUDE AWAKENING, but Warrior powers out. Rude ducks a clothesline and hooks on a sleeper instead! Warrior escapes with a jawbreaker, but then we get a triple-KO spot where meaning even Marella goes down. Heenan wakes up Rude, but really doesn’t do anything that’s downright cheating. Rude starts pounding away, but Warrior starts to WARRIOR UP and hits a bunch of clotheslines! Warrior even connects with a powerslam, but the ref is still not able to make a count. Warrior tries to wake up Marella, but then decides to give Rude a piledriver instead! Wow, Warrior isn’t SUCKING here. Marella crawls over and counts 1-2-NO! Rude got his foot on the bottom rope. Running powerslam by Warrior! Holy crap. He goes for the WARRIOR SPLASH, but Rude brings up his knees. Ugh. Warrior finally screws up and its while he’s up in a piledriver position too. A place you absolutely don’t want to screw up in. Rude covers for 1-2-NO! Rude heads up top and connects with the fist-drop for 1-2-NO! Wait a minute, here comes Roddy Piper! Meanwhile, Rude delivers another piledriver and arrogantly covers for 1-2-NO! Now Rude sees Piper and decides to mock him instead of finishing off Warrior. Piper moons him by lifting up his kilt, which pisses Rude off entirely. Rude climbs up on the turnbuckle, but then Warrior comes up from behind with a back suplex. Warrior connects with the Running Shoulderblock, the WARRIOR PRESS SLAM, and the WARRIOR SPLASH for the 1-2-3! Warrior regains the belt as the crowd blows the roof off the arena. (16:02) IMO, Warrior has only three standout matches throughout his career. This is one of them. When I say “only”, that’s not necessarily derogatory considering those three matches are great matches that people still talk about fifteen years later. The others are obvious, which are his match against Hogan at WrestleMania 6, and against Savage at WrestleMania 7. ***½

Final Thoughts: Some good matches and a bonafide classic Match of the Decade contender, but collectively does it represent the best the ’80s have to offer for the Intercontinental championship? It’s debatable. I would have rather seen a better Valentine-Santana match like their historic cage match for example. Also, more title changes would have been nice. Overall, a solid first disc. Disc two gives us the best of the ’90s!

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