WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 – The Ruthless Aggression Era of the Title

As we move into the fourth installment in an exploration of the history of the WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 commences by saying that 2023 had been a banner year for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. 

Gunther has officially brought prestige and honor back to the championship and has long been considered the workhorse title of the WWE.

A title that builds stars into main event players and one that has the expectation of having the best match on the card. 

Gunther broke the Honky Tonk Man’s long-standing record reign as the longest Intercontinental Champion.

Holding the belt for over 550 days and counting, Gunther has taken his seat in the upper echelon of great Intercontinental Champions. 

With that in mind, it’s the perfect time for us here at Pro Wrestling Post to resurrect our History of the Intercontinental Championship series. 

When we last left off in Part 3, Chris Jericho had just won his seventh Intercontinental Championship.

The victory helped him surpass Jeff Jarrett’s record of six. 

WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 –
The Gold Standard Arrives

Fun fact: Since the year 2000 till this day, Shelton Benjamin's 244 -day reign as Ic champ (October 2004-June 2005) is still the longest ic reign. : r/WWE
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In 2004, the WWE was a couple of years into the Ruthless Aggression Era, and new stars were beginning to make an impact within the company.

One such star was Shelton Benjamin. 

After a solid run as part of the World’s Greatest Tag Team with Charlie Haas, it was now time for Benjamin to try his hand as a single star. 

The crowd was behind Benjamin as he navigated the waters of singles competition. 

Never was this more apparent than at Taboo Tuesday 2004, when he received the most fan votes to be Chris Jericho’s opponent. 

Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Benjamin defeated Jericho, beginning his first reign with Intercontinental gold. 

His first reign lasted an impressive 244 days placing him in the top ten of longest Intercontinental reigns of all-time. 

A Reign That’s Cool

Carlito Possibly Returning To WWE Raw
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Shelton Benjamin held the IC Title for half of 2005 before his reign finally came to an end at the hands of Carlito. 

Much like Benjamin, this was the first of what would be multiple reigns for the second-generation star. 

Carlito’s initial reign with the championship was nothing to sneeze at, lasting 90 days before it came to an end at the hands of a legend.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4
Flair For The Title

The Wrestling Insomniac: Ric Flair's Intercontinental Championship Reign
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Unforgiven 2005 was the night Ric Flair proved he still had it. 

That night he defeated Carlito with his patented Figure Four Leg Lock to become Intercontinental Champion. 

The victory for the Nature Boy was historic for a couple reasons. 

Firstly, it would be the only reign Flair had with the Intercontinental Championship. 

Secondly, at 56 years old Ric Flair became the oldest man to hold the IC Title. 

A record that still stands today. 

Gold Standard: The Sequel

Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Van Dam from WWE 2006 | Views from the Hawke's Nest
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After 155 days, Ric Flair’s Intercontinental Championship reign came to an end at the hands of Shelton Benjamin. 

The Gold Standard won the championship on an episode of Monday Night Raw as his speed and athleticism was too much for the much older Flair to overcome. 

This reign with the gold wasn’t nearly as long as his first, lasting 69 days. 

WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 –
Intercontinental in the Bank

WWE Hall of Famer Rob Van Dam reveals ripped physique after 'cutting back on sugar' | Daily Mail Online
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At WrestleMania 22 Rob Van Dam won the opportunity of a lifetime when he climbed a ladder and retrieved the Money In the Bank briefcase. 

Fans were anxious and excited to see when and where the “Whole F’n Show” would cash in for a World Title opportunity. 

But before that moment came, RVD was a fighting briefcase holder and he put the briefcase and the opportunity of a lifetime on the line. 

At Backlash 2006, it was RVD versus Shelton Benjamin in a “Winner Takes All” Match where both the IC Title and the Money in the Bank Briefcase were on the line. 

Rob Van Dam’s victory for his sixth IC Championship came via the spectacular Five Star Frog Splash. 

His reign wasn’t a long one, lasting merely two weeks. 

Third Time’s The Charm

Shelton Benjamin FINALLY Returning To WWE
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Shelton Benjamin wasn’t without the Intercontinental Championship very long. 

Just 15 days after losing the title to RVD, Benjamin won it back on Monday Night Raw. 

His victory didn’t come in a standard singles match for the title, it came in a 3 on 2 handicap match. 

Benjamin teamed with Triple H and Chris Masters to take on WWE Champion John Cena and Rob Van Dam. 

The stipulation for the match was that if Cena or RVD lost, their respective championship would change hands, and in this case, Benjamin pinned Rob Van Dam.

Benjamin’s third and final reign with the Intercontinental Championship lasted 41 days.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 –
Trading Reigns

Which Was Your Favorite Jeff Hardy vs Johnny Nitro/John Morrison Match? | Wrestling Amino
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John Morrison was a young and cocky superstar looking to make a name for himself on Monday Night Raw, and during the summer of 2006, he did just that, winning the Intercontinental Championship.

His victory came at the Raw-centric Vengeance pay-per-view when he won a triple-threat match against Shelton Benjamin and Carlito.

This was his first reign, and it lasted 99 days. 

Morrison lost the IC Title to Jeff Hardy on an episode of Monday Night Raw. 

This was Hardy’s second reign with the title, and it lasted 35 days before he lost it back to Morrison on another episode of Monday Night Raw.

Not to be outdone, Hardy won the title back seven days later in a No Disqualification Match on Monday Night Raw. 

This third reign of Hardy’s lasted 98 days before a monster came calling. 

WWE Intercontinental Championship Pt 4 –
Intercontinental Bulldozer

Umaga WWE Intercontinental Champion by NuruddinAyobWWE on DeviantArt
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The Samoan Bulldozer Umaga was one of the most impressive monsters of the Ruthless Aggression era. 

With manager Armando Estrada be his side, he ran roughshod over the Monday Night Raw roster and eventually set his sights on Intercontinental gold. 

On the February 19, 2007 episode of Monday Night Raw, he dominated Jeff Hardy to become the Intercontinental Champion. 

For 56 days Umaga reigned as a monster IC Champion and it took a miracle to bring his reign to an end. 

Milan Miracle

Remembering “The Milan Miracle” in WWE | Ring the Damn Bell
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The July 2nd, 2007, episode of Monday Night Raw emanated from Milan, Italy. 

That night Mr. McMahon was going to make a fan’s dream come true. 

He was going to give one fan the opportunity to compete for a WWE Championship. 

That fan turned out to be hometown boy Santino Marella. 

Being the dastardly villain he is, McMahon made the contest between Marella and Champion Umaga a No Holds Barred Match. 

That decision ended up being a costly one as Bobby Lashley – Umaga and McMahon’s fiercest rival at the time – hit the Samoan Bulldozer with a timely spear.

This allowed Marella to get the victory in one of 2007’s best moments.