The History of the Intercontinental Championship
Please understand that I did not write this all in one go. I did, however, write the majority of it while unwinding from Christmas dinner and suffering from the dreaded condition “Turkey Backlash.”
Here we go. By the way, we are told not to try this at home. Whoops. Info that might have been useful in 1987.
After a pretty snazzy opening montage, we sadly learn the host for this set is Todd Grisham, known to some as TCSFTBDVD. Luckily, he just does short segments in-between matches, which is better than him narrating an entire biography or documentary piece. His hosting didn’t bother me as much as it did for some people I know, but he would have been best served trying to play it straight rather than trying to be funny. He’s actually surprisingly passable when he tries the more professional approach.
PAT PATTERSON vs. TED DiBIASE
The story here is that Patterson is the first IC champ, having won a fictitious tournament in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to unify the North American and South American titles. DiBiase was once the NA titleholder, and Patterson beat him to gain entry into the tourney, so this was a rematch of sorts.
A very old school match, although Patterson as always is a bump machine. Frustrated, he pulls out a foreign object, but gets cut off by DiBiase, who procures the object (”brass knucks” we are told). Before the referee can get them off him, however, Patterson scoops DiBiase’s legs and get a quick three count while using the ropes for leverage.
KEN PATERA vs. PEDRO MORALES
Grisham points out that Patera was the first-ever Olympic medallist to claim the IC title, long before Kurt Angle. Patera defends here against Puerto Rican Morales, who holds the distinction of being the first man to hold the WWWF title, IC title, and tag team titles. He has the crowd on his side to a ridiculous degree here. “Here” being Madison Square Garden in New York City. In my opinion, even though Patera is decent in his role as heel champion here, he just doesn’t mesh well with Morales, who was a southpaw who could be awkward for some people to deal with in the ring as a result.
I spent most of this match distracted, and it could be the one match on the set I could have done without. In the end, it’s ruled a no contest, with a pull-apart brawl thrown in for good measure. Great heat, lackluster match.
MAGNIFICENT MURACO vs. PEDRO MORALES
Morales is back, in the same trunks. Actually, swear I have never seen him wear different trunks, not even when he made his WWF return in the second half of the 1980’s. Muraco to this day is still largely under appreciated by the masses. These two had quite the rivalry, and there are plenty great matches they could have selected from for this set. Good heat and great intensity from both men. This match is definitely something different from the usual fare in the WWF at the time.
This is more a hardcore brawl with some well-timed moves than a wrestling match, but that is by no means a complaint. The crowd is with them the entire time. Sadly, just as things really get rolling, the referee goes down and the match is stopped. Official verdict: Double DQ. As a result, Pedro keeps the belt.
If my memory serves me correctly, the rematch was even better, and MIGHT be on the original “History of the Intercontinental Championship,” which was a Coliseum Home Video VHS release circa 1987.
MAGNIFICENT MURACO vs. “SUPERFLY” JIMMY SNUKA (Cage Match)
Yes, it’s THAT match, which has been available on a slew of previous VHS and DVD releases. As a result, I won’t spend much on it, but I will add the during pre-match interviews, a young Vince McMahon refers to the cage as “the hungry cage.” Hungry for blood, no doubt, and it would end up being satisfied and Snuka would bleed buckets. Muraco’s interview, by the way, was pretty awesome. No screaming, no yelling, just good.
Muraco is managed by Captain Lou Albano. Snuka is managed by the first WWWF champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. If you squint, you’ll see Mick Foley in one of the seats close to ringside during Snuka’s entrance.
We all know what happens here. The match doesn’t go very long. Snuka head butts Muraco and he falls out of the cage. Snuka, incensed, drags his near lifeless body back into the ring and performs the most famous Superfly Splash of all time of the top of the cage.
TITO SANTANA vs. GREG “THE HAMMER” VALENTINE (Lumberjack Match)
These two had some great, physical matches that were quite unlike anything else in the WWF at the time. Valentine was the champion here, after unseating an injured Santana and forcing him to have arthoscopic knee surgery. For more on these two, check out the DVD “My Side of the Story” from Kayfabe Commentaries. It’s pretty rad.
Some of the “lumberjacks” include Big John Studd, Charlie Fulton, Rocky Johnson (The Rock’s father), Ricky Steamboat, and Junkyard Dog. Of course, whenever Valentine finds himself on the outside of the ring, he’s coddled by his nefarious friends. When he finds himself deposited on the other side of the ring he’s unceremoniously tossed back in by the likes of the Superfly.
These guys always had good matches; even though you’d think Tito’s style wouldn’t match up well with Valentine’s slower, stiffer, more methodical approach. Was it Gorilla Monsoon that used to always say it takes a good 45 minutes for “The Hammer” to get going? He tries to soften up Santana’s knee to prepare him for the figure four leg lock, which is the hold that won him the belt in the first place.
Finally, Tito rallies, and a flurry of rights causes Valentine to do his patented free fall face-first splat to the mat. A Santana figure four attempt causes The Hammer to try to head for the hills, but to no avail. Attempt number two proves successful until the heel lumberjacks pull Valentine to the ropes. From there it breaks down to fisticuffs until the two collide and Valentine falls on top of Tito for a quick pin. Both men are spent and have a hard time getting up.
TITO SANTANA vs. RANDY “MACHO MAN” SAVAGE
Boston Garden is the setting as Tito is now the champ once again. The announcer’s mic sounds broken, or to have been purchased at a dollar store, because it sucks. As a side note, the referee is Danny Davis, who would later go on to cause controversy as one of two refs in the Paul Orndorff-Hulk Hogan “photo finish” cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event as well as the referee who would cost the British Bulldogs the tag team titles to the Hart Foundation. He’s not exactly crooked here, but after the Bulldogs loss, they claimed he was to build up The Harts and Davis again the Bulldogs and Tito at WrestleMania III.
Sorry, back to the task at hand. These two also had a good run of matches against each other, although for completely different reasons than Tito vs. Valentine. Early on, Savage gives Tito a thumb to the eye. When Santana recovers, he runs at him, and he scoots out of the ring. While out on the floor, a goofy-looking fan with long hair, wacky hat, shades and a TIGER STRIPE SWEATER approaches Savage with hand outstretched. I guess he wants to be friends. Wait, he kinda looks like Savage, so maybe he’s his number-one fan? Security quickly and swiftly takes him away, even though a security wall separates he and Savage. Apparently handshakes are not allowed in the Boston Garden. As security leaves, Savage yells something at them, and one of them gives him a one-hand shove! What the heck is going on here?
The first part of this match is Santana thwarting all Savage’s attempts at offense and cheating. Finally, Savage is able to mount a solid offense and starts hitting his signature moves, like the axe handle to the floor. Tito mounts a comeback, but referee Davis starts getting in the way. Tito gets the figure four. Savage escapes it, and starts going to the tights, but is stopped. A few moments later, he digs out a foreign object, misses a swing and nails Santana with it in the head while being back suplexed. The result is Savage becomes new IC champ, and will go on to be one of the longer-reigning IC champions in history.
This is actually an identical finish as the Savage-Ricky Steamboat match at the 1985 Wrestling Classic PPV.
You don’t have to be a genius to figure out what match is shown next. Grisham says it took place at the biggest event in history.
RANDY “MACHO MAN” SAVAGE vs. RICKY “THE DRAGON” STEAMBOAT (w/ George “The Animal” Steele)
Steamboat’s Alan Parsons Project music is dubbed over with the generic music they use for him on WWE 24/7. Hey, at least they are consistent.
This is the famous WrestleMania III match, which I have seen a million times. It’s still good today, but I saw this not too long ago on the 20th anniversary WrestleMania III set, so I am going to fast-forward much of this. I will say that Savage’s bump he takes being back dropped over the top rope to the floor is awesome. I remember there was a great shot of it in WWF Magazine and on an O-Pee-Chee trading card where he was completely upside down in mid-air. Cool.
Of course the end comes when Savage tries to use the ring bell on Steamboat (he has injured him months earlier doing the same thing), but The Animal cut him off by pushing him off the top rope. Savage, favoring his back, then gets up and goes to slam Steamboat, who reverses the attempt into a small package to win the title. Sadly, he’d only have it for as month or two.
THE HONKY TONK MAN vs. RICKY “THE DRAGON” STEAMBOAT
Honky’s original music is overdubbed with his “Honky Tonk Man” song off the Piledriver album. Steamboat’s music is inexplicably dubbed with a different piece of music than the previous match, so forget everything I said about being consistent.
As has been the norm of late, the “Superstars of Wrestling” banners are blurred out.
I’m old enough that I remember watching this late one Saturday night with my Dad. At the time, this was kind of a throwaway match, in that nobody expected it to amount to much. Perhaps one of those classic double count out title matches that were always on TV. This would be like Jeff Hardy vs. Dolph Ziggler today.
Best part of the commentary is when Jesse excitedly mentions that he loves it when the HTM plays his guitar behind his back. It looks like Honky might do it, but then Jesse is forced to say “oh…he didn’t do it.”
HONKY TONK MAN vs. ULTIMATE WARRIOR – SummerSlam 88
SummerSlam 88 was a happy time for me, and was excited that there was a new WWF mega-event. I remember getting this from the local video store the very day it came out (we didn’t have PPV capability in my area until the 1990’s).
This of course is the infamous 30-something second match where Warrior wins the belt. That means I’ve already spent more time typing this that it took to watch the match. It was a cool surprise, but at the time I was not a happy camper. I was a big Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake fan, and it was supposed to be Beefcake vs. Honky. Darn you and your spurs, Outlaw Ron Bass!
For those that felt ripped off by a 30 second match, I saw a full length Warrior-HTM match live in Vancouver both before and after this match. The thirty-second match was better than both of them. HTM would probably say the same.
ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs. “RAVISHING” RICK RUDE
More SummerSlam goodness. SummerSlam used to be my favorite PPV event when I was a kid. I even liked it when Rude called everyone “SummerSlam sweathogs.”
Too bad we can never see Rob Van Dam vs. Rick Rude in a battle of awesomely made airbrushed tights. This was 1989, and Warrior is starting to join in the Neon-Mania that swept North America for a couple years. This was also a time when wrestlers would go on the Arsenio Hall Show all the time, and in character at that.
The general theme of this match is “I am Rick Rude, and I rule. I am awesome, and the Warrior sucks, but I am going to use my superior ability to get a great and exciting match out of him.”
I can’t help but notice that Warrior does suplexes like a wrestling school student. He’s slow, he makes sure he has everything right, and when he does the move, he stays down on the mat for a while until it kicks in that he pulled it off and didn’t die. This is the single greatest Ultimate Warrior match ever, 100% due to Rude. I remember at the time thinking it was more like an NWA match in that it was full of running and high-impact moves that WWF was usually low on.
You hear the term “ring general” thrown about a lot. In this match, Rude is the General, Sergeant, Lieutenant, heck…he’s the entire National Guard. Every single movement he makes is for the betterment of the match. Of course, the inclusion of Roddy Piper, one of my favorites as a kid (and more so as an adult student of the game) only makes the match better as Ultimate Warrior does his three moves to win the match at the end.
The last thing you see on this disc is Sean Mooney.
And that’s it! The end of Disc One. Can my sanity survive Disc Two? Do you even want it?