History of the Intercontinental Championship
WWE.com Legacy Edition
by Samoa Rowe
-Jack Korpela hosts, as per usual. Last time we looked at the rivalry between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. Now it’s time to see just how long Steamboat’s reign would last.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat © vs. Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart)
Superstars - June 13th 1987
Honky Tonk Man is aggressive from the get go, tossing Steamboat over the ropes. Steamboat kicks off Hart and skins the cat back to the ring and tosses HTM. Steamboat snapmares HTM and focuses on the head. Chops and strikes by Steamboat, who rolls through the legs and gets a victory roll for 2. HTM reverses, sending Steamboat crashing into the corner. HTM hangs up Steamboat on the ropes. HTM gets some heel offense in but misses an elbow drop. Snapmare by Steamboat but HTM responds with a knee lift. Steamboat reverses a face lock with a suplex. Steamboat goes high risk, but Hart distracts the referee while he nails an axe handle for a cover. Steamboat drop-kicks HTM into Hart, knocking him off the apron. Steamboat catches HTM in a pinning predicament, but it turns out that Steamboat’s shoulders were down. Honky Tonk Man wins the title at 3:51! Short, but a great sprint, and quite a shocking result, **.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
-Korpela says that Honky Tonk Man was quite a cheater, but would be placed in situations where it would be almost impossible to cheat.
Honky Tonk Man © (with Jimmy Hart) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (with Ms. Elizabeth)
Philadelphia - January 9th 1988
This is a steel cage match, and by this point Honky Tonk Man has been the champion for several months. HTM lunges for the door, but Savage blocks him. HTM climbs but Savage pulls him down, smashing his head into the turnbuckle. HTM rakes the face to break free from Savage and attempts to dive through the door again. HTM drives Savage into the cage wall. Savage blocks and returns some shots. HTM blocks a back drop with a knee lift. Elbow drop by HTM and a body slam. HTM tries to leave again, but Savage grabs his ankle. HTM chokes Savage. HTM beats down Savage, but still can’t get out. Savage almost escapes but gets pulled back in. Savage counters, tossing HTM into the cage. Savage climbs to the top but HTM joins him. They slug it out on the top rope with HTM getting crotched on the ropes. Savage nails a flying clothesline from off the top of the cage! Savage crawls for the door but Hart slams the door in his face! Hart pulls HTM out, allowing him to retain at 9:14. Solid stuff, **½.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
Honky Tonk Man © (with Jimmy Hart) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Primetime Wrestling - February 1st 1988
This is a lumberjack match. HTM strikes first, going after the head and back. Steamboat is tossed over the ropes but he skins the cat. Steamboat throws HTM over the ropes a couple times, with the lumberjacks all eager to dump him back. Steamboat pursues but the lumberjacks go after him too. There’s a commercial break, afterwards we see lumberjacks holding HTM onto the apron so Steamboat can stomp on him. Steamboat is in complete control and pummels the champ all over the ring. Cover by Steamboat gets 2.5. HTM rebounds with a snapmare and elbow drop for 2. Steamboat fights back but his Irish whip is reversed, and the Islanders trip him from ringside. Victory roll by Steamboat gets 2. HTM just won’t stay down and the crowd is getting riled up. Back suplex by Steamboat gets 2.5. HTM blocks a monkey flip. HTM slams Steamboat and goes high risk to drop a fist. After another commercial, we see Steamboat blocking with an atomic drop. HTM sends Steamboat crashing to ringside. HTM attacks at ringside before the lumberjacks can toss them back in. HTM slams Steamboat and locks in a cravat. High cross body by Steamboat gets 2. Desperate clothesline from HTM. Steamboat strikes the gut in mid-air, prompting HTM to beg for mercy. Steamboat slingshots the champ into the turnbuckles and nails a scoop slam. Steamboat goes high risk and nails the head, but Hart has the referee distracted. George Steele runs in and counts the three, but of course that doesn’t count. Steamboat attacks Hart, leaving him vulnerable to a microphone shot from HTM, who makes the cover to retain at 10:09. Spirited match, with nuclear crowd heat and a devastating conclusion, ***.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
-The lumberjacks storm the ring and a gigantic brawl breaks out.
-Korpela says that it started to seem that no one would be able to take the belt away from Honky Tonk Man.
Honky Tonk Man © (with Jimmy Hart and Peggy Sue) vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Wrestlemania IV - March 27th 1988
This is back when the Intercontinental title used to be defended on Wrestlemania. They lock up with HTM getting the upper hand. Beefcake ducks a clothesline and nails an atomic drop. Beefcake messes up HTM’s hair and sends him to ringside. HTM returns but tries to hide in the ropes. Beefcake knocks HTM into the turnbuckles. Knee to the face by Beefcake sends HTM retreating to ringside again. Beefcake pulls him back in by the hair and snapmares him over the ropes. Beefcake dodges a knee lift but misses an elbow drop. HTM targets the head with numerous shots. Beefcake blocks the Neckbreaker and unloads his frustration on HTM. Sleeper by Beefcake! Hart makes the save with a distraction on the apron, and he nails the referee with his megaphone. HTM passes out and Beefcake thinks he’s won. Beefcake wants his scissors, but Hart grabs the bag and tries to hide under the ring. Beefcake pulls Hart out and cuts off some of his hair! Meanwhile, Peggy Sue tries to wake up Honky Tonk Man, while two referees check on the injured official. Peggy Sue revives HTM with some water. Beefcake goes after HTM with the scissors but the referees hold him back. Beefcake is announced the winner by DQ at 9:16. This ended flatly, but had some awesome crowd heat and storytelling in the middle, **.
Winner by DQ: Honky Tonk Man
-So who is going to end the Honky Tonk Man’s reign? Korpela says that’s the “ultimate question” and we’ll find out next time.
Final Thoughts: Honky Tonk Man’s reign was the main feature in this episode and it was certainly entertaining to look back on. The crowd heat he was generating was off the charts and it elevated a lot of the matches. It’s funny to think about how much people cared about the Intercontinental Championship during this era.