The Most Underrated WWF/WWE Intercontinental Champions – (1980 to 2005)

The World Wrestling Federation (WWF), now known as WWE, has been a cornerstone in the world of professional wrestling, and its Intercontinental Championship is often considered a stepping stone to the top tier of wrestling stardom. Between 1990 and 2005, numerous wrestlers held this prestigious title, but some of their reigns have been overshadowed or undervalued over time. This article aims to highlight the most underrated Intercontinental Champions of this era: Owen Hart, Goldust, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, and Eddie Guerrero.

#5 – Owen Hart: The Technical Wizard

Owen Hart, the younger brother of Bret “The Hitman” Hart, was known for his technical prowess and high-flying abilities. To be clear, Owen Hart is not underrated. But his reign as WWF Intercontinental Champion absolutely was. Hart’s reign as the Intercontinental Champion in 1997 was a showcase of his extraordinary in-ring skills and it also brought back validity to the championship. In the 80s and early 90s the Intercontinental Title was reserved for the wrestler with the best work rate, who could keep the fans entertained when the World Champion wasn’t on the card. Rocky Maivia (who was pushed too hard, too fast) wasn’t a talented worker at this point. When Owen captured the title, it brought a prestige back to the title that had been missing for a few years. Owen’s ability to engage the audience, whether as a heel or a face, coupled with his technical expertise, makes him one of the most underrated champions of that time.

#4 – Goldust: The Unconventional Trailblazer

Goldust, portrayed by Dustin Rhodes, was a character that broke all norms of the industry with his androgynous and bizarre persona. Winning the Intercontinental Championship in 1996, Goldust used psychological tactics and unorthodox methods that were ahead of their time in the wrestling world. His reign as champion was significant for pushing the boundaries of character development in wrestling, but it is often overlooked due to the controversial nature of his character. His ability to bring attention to a stagnant championship was paramount during the dark days of the WWF losing to WCW in almost every metric. Without Goldust’s initial reign as Intercontinental Champion, who knows where the business goes after that. He was the first Intercontinental Champion since the Ultimate Warrior whose character outshined his ring skills.

#3 – Jeff Jarrett: The Crafty “Veteran”

Jeff Jarrett, a multi-time Intercontinental Champion, was a master of in-ring psychology and storytelling. His reigns in the late 90s were marked by his ability to draw heat from the audience, embodying the perfect heel character for 1995. Despite his skills on the microphone and his in-ring capabilities, Jarrett’s contributions to the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship are frequently underrated, partly because of his subsequent ventures with other wrestling promotions and the fact that the fans of the time weren’t as interested in a solid work rate. His match with Shawn Michaels at In Your House 3 for the Intercontinental Title is one of the greatest matches of the 1990s.

#2 – Kurt Angle: The Olympic Hero

Kurt Angle’s transition from Olympic wrestling to professional wrestling was seamless, and he quickly rose through the ranks in the WWF. His tenure as the Intercontinental Champion in 2000 was marked by outstanding matches, showcasing his incredible technical ability and athleticism. For every Road Dog or Godfather reign that sullied the Intercontinental Title, Kurt Angle brought the title back to prestige. However, Angle’s success in the WWF/WWE is often more associated with his World Championship wins and less with his impactful, though shorter, reign as the Intercontinental Champion.

#1 – Eddie Guerrero: Latino Heat

Eddie Guerrero, known for his charisma and in-ring versatility, held the Intercontinental Championship in 2000. His reign was a critical point in his career, helping to establish him as a main-event-level talent. Guerrero’s ability to connect with the audience, his technical skill, and his “Lie, Cheat, and Steal” persona made his reign unique – it also kept the Intercontinental Title relevant during a time of multiple title changes. However, similar to Angle, Guerrero’s later achievements have overshadowed his time as the Intercontinental Champion.

In conclusion, the Intercontinental Championship has been a platform for many wrestlers to showcase their skills and charisma. Owen Hart, Goldust, Jeff Jarrett, Kurt Angle, and Eddie Guerrero are among those who used this platform effectively, but their contributions during their time as champions have not received the recognition they deserve. Each of these wrestlers brought something unique to the title, enhancing its prestige and significance in the world of professional wrestling. Their reigns as Intercontinental Champions were not just title runs; they were integral chapters in their illustrious careers that deserve to be celebrated and remembered.

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