WWE: Top 15 Intercontinental Champions from the Ruthless Aggression Era, PG Era and beyond

All Elite Wrestling
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Last time, we ran through 15 of the greatest Intercontinental Champions to ever wear that particular WWE strap during the Attitude and Golden Eras, and as I wrote that piece, I realized that one list is definitely not enough…especially considering there have been 87 different individual IC champs.

So, we decided to do it again, and this time looking exclusively at the Ruthless Aggression Era, the PG Era, and beyond.

Rob Van Dam

He definitely started his pro wrestling career way before the dawn of the Ruthless Aggression Era, he being an ECW original, but RVD achieved prominence in WWE as his career moved forward, he nabbing this title for the first time at WrestleMania X8 in Toronto, Canada. He would go on to defeat John Cena for the WWE title in 2006.

Shelton Benjamin

Very often cast aside, this man doesn’t get the respect he deserves. He was in John Cena’s, Randy Orton’s and Batista’s class at OVW and in many ways outshined them all in his athleticism.

Recently, he was part of the Hurt Business faction, but sadly that went nowhere. I’m starting to wonder if he would be better utilized in AEW.

AJ Styles

I was an AJ Styles fan long before he was in WWE. Essentially, he was a star in smaller companies and unlike so many other stars to come over from Impact, ROH and the independents, he didn’t have to have a run in NXT before getting in on the big picture in WWE. That, dear readers, speaks volumes.

Finn Bálor

As I write this, this gentleman is set to face Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, at Extreme Rules. He’s been in the business for twenty-one years and knows a few things, I’d say, about running the ropes. He won the IC Title for the first time at Elimination Chamber (2019) defeating both Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush.

John Morrison (Johnny Nitro)

Talk about a hard worker. This man has been at it for a long time and in 2011, when he and WWE parted ways, he showed just how much he had in him, by doing well in other promotions.

He did so well in fact, that he eventually did return to WWE, where he had already captured the IC Title as Johnny Nitro years before, and again after being separated from The Miz in 2009, but has yet to win it again. He’s held it for a total of 3 times.

Drew McIntyre

Drew has only held this title a single time and that was in his first run with the company back in 2009-2010. He has since won the WWE title and seems to be having a hard time getting it back. We hope that he gets another run at the top in the coming months.

Wade Barrett

He serves as analyst and commentator for NXT and is doing an impeccable job. I love the banter between he and Beth Phoenix. But before sitting at the announce table, Barrett was one of WWE’s greatest heels throughout the PG Era, even taking things a wee bit further than the PG level, I’m happy to say.

Kofi Kingston

Talk about hard workers. His WWE career has been a long one (he having signed on with WWE Developmental in 2006) and he is so dependable, he and partner Xavier Woods are often used over and over again.

They helped Raw out when they needed a tag team to go the distance in the recent Tag Team Turmoil sequence of matches, and when they needed a scapegoat for Bobby Lashley to decimate at Hell In A Cell, he did the job there too. We hope he gets another run at the WWE Championship which he won in 2019.

Dolph Ziggler

Charismatic, an epic heel, Ziggler too has been with WWE for quite some time and whatever the job is, he shows up on time, executes perfectly and goes on to the next one. Now if that doesn’t scream ‘hard worker,’ I don’t know what does.

Kevin Owens

These next two can be spoken about in the same breath. Although they started in WWE in the Reality Era, I guess we could say they have qualities that remind me of an earlier time in the industry.

Sami Zayn

Athletic, both of them, despite their body types, and epic sellers in the ring. There are rumors that KO could be AEW-bound in January and I must admit, I’m pretty excited about that prospect.

Both of these men have had an epic run in WWE, even holding the illustrious title this piece is based on, and maybe it’s time to canvas a new territory and perhaps dominate that one too.

Food for thought.

The Miz

Bobby Lashley told Steve Austin on a recent episode of The Broken Skull Sessions: “If you don’t like The Miz, you’re just jealous,” and I’d have to agree with him.

This man has put in the work and his time as IC Champ and WWE Champ prove that perfectly.

Roman Reigns

Could I really write a piece such as this one without including “The Head of the Table” himself?

Of course not. I had to acknowledge him, as acknowledging the hard work people put in to make their way to the top is important and the right thing to do; otherwise, you just seem jealous and hateful.

Daniel Bryan

The top two spots go to two men dominating the wrestling industry right now, and none of them are in WWE.

This week on Dynamite, Bryan and Omega painted a masterpiece on the AEW canvas and really, he deserves all the accolades he ever got in this business…including his time as IC Champ.

CM Punk

And as for “the best in the world,” I don’t think there’s anything to say other than of course he was IC Champ, and of course he was the best to ever wear it across his waist from these eras specified.

Now, all that remains to be seen is when he gets that AEW World Championship.

As a final note, obviously we’ve got to go with some honorable mentions, and to that I’d like to say that essentially anyone that has been bestowed the honor to wear this belt deserves kudos, so I congratulate them all, as this title means something and it always has, as I discussed in the first article on the IC Championship.

I’d also like to mention that I particularly love what Apollo Crews did with this belt and his character that developed—the Nigerian Prince—over the course of 2021. He has a gimmick that would have been perfect for the Golden Era of wrestling and right now he’s making it work all these years later and in an era such as ours.

Next. AEW: A heel turn is the character refresh that Cody needs. dark

Unfortunately, he lost his rematch this week with Shinsuke Nakamura to get his belt back, but I hope he gets another chance sometime soon. If not, he deserves other shot and quite the push if you ask me, but perhaps more on Apollo in the future.

Till the next one, dear readers.