History of the IC Championship
In the world of professional wrestling there are only a few things that are guarenteed, Hulk Hogan will always be around the ring in some capacity, Shawn Michaels will always be the Showstoppa and the Intercontinental Championship will always be the fans favourite championship.
Over the years the belt has lost prestige, when you consider some of the past champions the likes of Pat Patterson, Tito Santana, Don Muraco, Honky Tonk Man even the Ultimate Warrior it has always been a stepping stone for a superstar to break through that glass ceiling that exists in the industry and become a true superstar. Just look at what it did for the careers of Bret Hart, Mr Perfect, The Rock, HHH even Stone Cold Steve Austin.
As a longtime fan of the business this DVD set gives me the opportunity to relieve some of my favourite superstars from the classic era and also a chance to relieve my childhood and admire once again the legacies of these great World Wrestlign Federation performers. As for the actual presentation itself, it reminds me of the old WWF VHS releases which were also available through Silvervision in the 90’s. There is no studio as such, where as most of today’s programmes are recorded in the the television studios at WWE World Headquarters, this one has the host infront of a blue video screen with the Intercontinental Championship adorning the back image. Whether or not this was intentional I dont know but it did give the programme a nice retro feel which added to the atmopshere of the disc. As for the host well it is hosted by WWE commentator Todd Grisham who covers the history of the Intercontinental Championship, from its beginning in 1979, to March of 2008, via 27 matches which were selected by the WWE Universe via their web site. It’s neatly divided into three discs, one for the ’80s (and one match from 1979), one for the ’90s and one for the ’00s, so you’ve got the classic, the contemporary and the in-between.
The first disc I dug into was the ’80s, representing the wrestling I grew up on. It’s got some classic matches, including what is probably the single best match ever, when Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat took on Randy “Macho Man” Savage at WrestleMania III. Perhaps the setting was part of it, with the largest crowd ever to watch a wrestling match, but when two incredibly agile, athletic grapplers meet up like this, the fact that the ending was predetermined goes out the window. This was a beautiful athletic performance that would have been great no matter who won.
After getting started with a very old-school Pat Patterson match (against a very young Ted Dibiase), the early belt holders get some spotlight, including a ridiculously macho Don Muraco, underrated early WWF star Tito Santana, and lesser-known champions like Pedro Morales. The remainder of the disc focuses on some of the most memorable cartoonish characters of ’80s wrestling, like the Honky Tonk Man (surprisingly the longest-reigning Intercontinental champion), the kinetic madness that was the Ultimate Warrior and the fantastic gimmick of the hugely talented Ravishing Rick Rude. These later matches are actually pretty good, but they are more about the personalities than the action, while some of them illustrate just how bad the acting was back then.
Pat Patterson vs. Ted DiBiase – October 22, 1979
Ken Patera vs. Pedro Morales – October 20, 1980
Pedro Morales vs. The Magnificent Muraco – December 28, 1982
The Magnificent Muraco vs. Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka (Steel Cage) – October 17, 1983
Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana (Lumberjack) – March 17, 1985
Tito Santana vs. Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage – February 8, 1986
Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage vs. Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat – March 29, 1987
Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat vs. Honky Tonk Man – June 2, 1987
Honky Tonk Man vs. Ultimate Warrior – August 29, 1988
Ravishing Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior – August 28, 1989
After the glory days of Hulk Hogan and company, the action moves to the birth of the Attitude Era, through the prism of the Intercontinental title. Things kick off with a pair of impressive bouts with Bret “Hitman” Hart, first against long-time veteran Mr. Perfect and then against his in-law, the British Bulldog, a bout that played like a brawnier version of the Steamboat/Savage classic, with the added, though unconvincing family drama of a familial link, Davey Boy Smith’s wife Diana, at ringside. Things were less impressive with Razor Ramon getting a pair of matches that just don’t stack up.
The new WWF gets going in a big way as the popular Stone Cold Steve Austin takes on soon-to-be star Rocky Maivia in a brutal match that includes a pick-up truck as part of the action. The match between Triple H then representing the greatest stable in wrestling D-Generation X and The Rock who was representing the Nation is not the most technically sound but is funl, thanks to the interjection of each wrestler’s posse and a time stipulation that makes the whole affair a let-down. It’s just step up over the terrible Good Housekeeping Match that introduces the first female Intercontinental Champion.
Mr. Perfect vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – August 26, 1991
Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. British Bulldog – August 29, 1992
Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels (Ladder) – March 20, 1994
Razor Ramon vs. Jeff Jarrett – January 22, 1995
Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Rocky Maivia – December 7, 1997
Triple H vs. The Rock (2 of 3 falls) – July 26, 1998
Jeff Jarrett vs. Chyna (Good Housekeeping) – October 17, 1999
The final DVD delivers the WWE most people today recognize as pro wrestling, featuring the superstars and performers that we have watched over the past few years on the WWE television network
In some ways, it’s a slightly less cartoonish version of the ’80s WWF, but with a much higher overall level of athleticism and far better choreographed battles. The Rob Van Dam/Jeff Hardy ladder match is actually pretty amazing in terms of the stunts, including a dive from the top of a ladder that looks incredibly dangerous. Hardy, who is part of four matches on this disc, might be my “favourite” of the bunch, despite his ridiculous goth/club kid look, simply because he sells everything he does with his tremendous skills. Meanwhile, for the bloodthirsty, this disc features a steel cage battle between the legendary WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair and Triple H. With the amount of brutality displayed and blood spilt, this is a tough one to watch, but is entertaining and highly enjoyable. Both men show why they are legends in this industry.
Chris Jericho vs. Kurt Angle – February 27, 2000
Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac (Triple Threat) – October 12, 2000
Triple H vs. Jeff Hardy – April 12, 2001
Rob Van Dam vs. Jeff Hardy (Ladder) – July 22, 2002
Randy Orton vs. Edge – July 11, 2004
Ric Flair vs. Triple H (Steel Cage) – November 1, 2005
Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin (Winner Takes All) – April 30, 2006
Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. Johnny Nitro (Triple Threat) – June 25, 2006
Umaga vs. Jeff Hardy – July 22, 2007
Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Jericho – March 10, 2008
The three DVDs are packaged in an attractive, open book-style, foil-embossed case with three clear trays for the discs, match lists opposite the DVDs and a four-page photo pamphlet lightly glued to the back of the set. It’s really quite nice, though the fact that it doesn’t close shut might annoy some. The DVDs have animated full-frame menus offering a play all option and match selections (with trailers also available on the first disc.) There are no audio options, no subtitles and no closed captioning.
The quality of the full-frame video on these matches varies with age, as the set touches four different decades, with the early matches looking soft, dark and earthy, while the most recent entries are razor-sharp, with bright, vivid color. The only footage that looks off is the linking segments with Grisham, as the green-screen effect looks cheap and puts a halo around him. There are no issues with dirt or damage and no obvious problems with digital artifacts. What’s annoying about many of the matches in the middle of the set is the sheer amount of digital blurs, which cover up the legally-outlawed WWF logos.
The audio is a rather standard television presentation delivered via Dolby Digital 5.0 tracks that are center-balanced, and don’t offer much in terms of dynamic sound. Everything sounds pretty nice, including the often ridiculous ringside commentary and the signature entrance music from the modern era matches.
Unless you consider a link to a marketing survey an extra, this set has nothing to offer for bonus material.
The Bottom Line
I have been a fan of pro wrestling for over 20 years and I have seen the highs and lows of this business. However where as the NWA had the US Championship, the best midcard title for me was the Intercontinental Championship. The calibre of the athletes was second to none and you always knew when the IC title was being defended you were in for a treat. The collection of matches on here are excellent and overall the presentation is top quality to. Definently recommended to old and new wrestling fans.