What started out as a war of words on Twitter between champions Cody Rhodes and Santino Marella spawned some debate over the legitimacy of both the Intercontinental and United States championships. Cody Rhodes, having held the I-C title twice for a total of 257 days, claimed to have restored the championship to its former glory, which included bringing back a modified version of the classic belt design with the white strap. Santino Marella, still in his current reign as US champion, considers his championship just as prestigious, or more so, as the Intercontinental title. So which championship is more prestigious?
Both the Intercontinental and the United States titles hold an impressive history of wrestlers who have held the once coveted championships. Since the introduction of the I-C title in 1979, there have been 69 different champions, with Chris Jericho holding the most reigns with nine, and The Honky Tonk Man having the longest reign of 454 days. The United States title, which was introduced in 1975 in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling by Jim Crockett Jr., was initially recognized as the top singles championship, replacing the NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship. From 1986 – present, the US title become a secondary championship following Crockett’s possession of the NWA World championship. From the NWA to WCW, to its current home in the WWE, the United States championship has proven its longevity.
But does the longevity of the United States title make it more prestigious than the Intercontinental title? Does Lex Lugar’s reign of 523 days as US champion elevate its status? And does having the US championship as RAW’s secondary championship make it more important? Then again, the Intercontinental championship has remained the sole property and creation of the WWE.
Despite Rhodes losing the I-C title to Christian at Over the Limit, he did bring some worth back to the championship. Christian, after being on the shelf for eight months, made the choice to contend for the Intercontinental title rather than the United States title after winning the pre-show Battle Royal. Was Christian’s decision an indication of his view on the current worth of the championships?
The US title did hold some prestige in 2010 between The Miz and Daniel Bryan collecting notable title defenses, but seeing Santino Marella on the losing end of his matches has devalued the championship’s worth. What are superstars to think of the title if Santino fails to put up a fight against the number one contender to the World championship? If he proves useless in a tag team contest alongside the WWE champion? If he is overlooked by the winner of a battle royal at a PPV?
When it comes to which secondary championship is more prestigious, it changes from year to year. But as of 2012, the dirt has been pried off of the Intercontinental championship.
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