5 Greatest 1990s WWE Intercontinental Title Matches
The Intercontinental Title is the second oldest active title in WWE. It was created in 1979 and the first champion was the late, great WWE Hall of Famer, Pat Patterson, who won a fictitious tournament to claim the crown.
The belt currently held by Gunther, became synonymous with awesome matches as the Intercontinental Champion was usually a superlative worker, on their journey up the ladder to the World Title.
This feature looks at the five greatest IC Title matches that took place during a glorious decade for the historic strap; the 1990s.
#5 ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper vs Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart – WrestleMania VIII (April 5, 1992)
Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart had shockingly dropped the Intercontinental Title to The Mountie on a House Show two days before the Royal Rumble pay-per-view. The storyline reason for Hart’s defeat was that he was poorly with a virus. However, Hart’s title loss existed solely to allow ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper to crush The Mountie and set up a huge WrestleMania match between Piper and ‘The Hitman.’
Their 19 minute collision didn’t disappoint. It was an expertly paced thriller. The contest began as a respectful amateur wrestling match-up that descended into a super stiff brawl. Hart bladed which added to the drama.
The finish came when Piper opted against nailing a prone Hart with the ring bell and instead laid in his patented Sleeper Hold. That would prove his undoing as Hart reversed the hold by kicking off the turnbuckle and pinning the veteran.
Hart was a two time Intercontinental Champion and Piper transitioned into a part-time role for the remainder of his WWF tenure.
#4 Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania X (March 20, 1994)
The inaugural (on pay-per-view) WWF ladder match was an instant classic. Although it didn’t feature the dramatic stunts that would later become synonymous with the gimmick, it was an incredibly constructed match-up nevertheless.
The story of the bout was simple. Reigning Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels had been stripped of the belt in October 1993 and Razor Ramon had claimed the vacant strap. When Michaels returned, he declared he was the true champion as he still carried the original belt. Therefore both titles were put up for grabs high above the ring in Madison Square Garden.
The combatants utilised the ladder in some hugely innovative spots and also used it as a weapon. The match built and built to a crescendo and was perfectly paced and executed.
Brimming with logical storytelling and a captive audience, this was as good as it gets. The finish came when Michaels got tied up in the ropes and Razor captured both belts to win as Michaels freed himself just a couple of seconds too late.
#3 Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon – SummerSlam (August 27, 1995)
When Vince McMahon decided that SummerSlam 1995 needed a boost, he called upon Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. Hoping to recreate the magic of WrestleMania X, he booked the pair to compete in a rematch of their classic ladder bout over the Intercontinental Title. It was a very shrewd decision.
The bout was the finest of 1995 and was superior to the original as it featured several call-backs to their WrestleMania X encounter as both men had learned from their previous battle which added to the drama.
Michaels and Razor began the match at a furious pace as they both attempted their respective finishers early. The match ebbed and flowed from there and featured bigger bumps and stunts than the original.
The contest was steeped in psychology too as Michaels hurt his knee and Razor worked it over to hinder his opponent’s attempts to ascend the ladder.
The finish came when ‘The Icon’ sent Razor flying out of the ring with a back body drop and he (eventually) climbed the ladder to retrieve the title.
A superlative encounter that had everything. Even the slightly botched finish couldn’t hurt it. In fact, it almost enhanced the bout as it sold how injured Michaels was as he attempted to grab the belt. First class.
#2 Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart vs The British Bulldog – SummerSlam (August 29, 1992)
Wembley Stadium in London, England played host to one of the most iconic moments and greatest technical masterclasses in wrestling history.
It was a family affair as Intercontinental Champion, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart squared off with his brother-in-law, The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith with the IC title at stake.
It was a slow builder as the pair felt each other out, with Hart outwrestling Smith, but Bulldog overpowering him with his superior strength when he made his comebacks.
The pair traded moves and exchanged fluid counters to each others holds.
The tension and atmosphere was special as the pair built to a crescendo in the closing stages. Bulldog overpowered Hart to reverse a sunset flip into a pin to an incredible reaction from the 80,000 fans in attendance.
A superlative bout which was technically sound, logical and told an emotional story. Bulldog’s wife and Hart’s sister, Diana Hart entered the ring after the bout and all three reunited and embraced to cap off a phenomenal match and etch an iconic visual into stone.
#1 Mr Perfect vs Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart – SummerSlam (August 26, 1991)
By the summer of 1991, Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart had outgrown the tag team division and entered the singles ranks. At SummerSlam, he challenged Mr Perfect for the Intercontinental Title.
Although most expected their match to be good, it greatly exceeded all expectations. Hart and Perfect contested an excellent technical wrestling match in an era where this was far from the norm.
The Madison Square Garden crowd were on the edge of their seat as the pair engaged in a war of attrition of holds and counter holds, with superb fluidity.
In a shocking moment, Perfect nailed his Perfectplex finish only for Hart to kick out. The match stepped up a gear down the home stretch with the New York crowd firmly behind Hart’s quest.
‘The Hitman’ reversed a leg drop into a Sharpshooter to earn the win via submission and claim his first Intercontinental Title.
Hart was established as a major player in the course of a single match. The contest was psychologically sound, expertly paced, and a technical masterpiece. The Intercontinental Title has never felt more important. It is the greatest match in the history of the legendary title.
You can watch all of these matches exclusively on the WWE Network.