Maybe one of these days, I’ll pen a list called “10 WWE PPVs that began with a great match, and were truly horrid the rest of the way.” A wordy title, but it gets the point across. Within, you’d find the likes of December to Dismember, TLC 2014, Battleground 2017, and of course, the all-too-recent Backlash 2018. Backlash may have been utterly bad, but at least Seth Rollins and The Miz’s Intercontinental title bout hit a level of excellence that’s worth aspiring to.
In the match’s aftermath, Corey Graves made note of the fact that for years, the Intercontinental belt was viewed as “the workhorse title” in WWE, and history backs him up. During the long reigns of Hulk Hogan in the eighties and early-nineties, the likes of Tito Santana, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, Mr Perfect, and Bret Hart anchored the cards with asterisk-obtaining masterpieces. It’s one reason why fans of a certain age wish that more could be done with the Intercontinental belt today: it takes them back to a time when the strap truly *meant* something.
This list will look at the 10 best Intercontinental title matches of the 2010s. Spoiler alert: nothing from 2010 through 2013 made the cut, as aside from Cody Rhodes’ lengthy reign (and restoration of an old belt design), the belt seemed more tertiary than secondary.
10. Daniel Bryan Vs. Dolph Ziggler (Raw, 30 March 2015)
A little more than 24 hours earlier, Bryan won the Intercontinental championship in a seven-man ladder match at WrestleMania 31. The idea was that Bryan would restore credibility to the long-neglected IC belt while John Cena would add prestige to the United States title. Sadly, Bryan would be sidelined shortly after this with the “career-ending” concussion, but he managed to deliver this hidden gem before then.
The two exchanged near-falls before the raucous post-Mania crowd, the height of which was the fans biting on one particular false finish following a Ziggler superkick. The two traded headbutts just as they had the night before, leading to Bryan winning on the Running Knee. Of course, nobody had much of a clue that they’d be watching Bryan’s last significant TV win for three years.