From Pat Patterson on September 1st, 1979, to Kevin Owens in 2016, almost 37 years later the championship is still going strong. As of late the championship seems to be restoring its prestigious value with recent champions like Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan and the current champion, Kevin Owens. This is a major step up compared to past champions which included the likes of Curtis Axel, Luke Harper and Ezekiel Jackson. The company has seen 77 different title holders, with Chris Jericho holding the record winning the title nine times. Honky Tonk has the record for the longest reign at 454 days.
Winning this championship really did not ensure much back in the day. As you will see in this article, the championship at one time bounced around some lesser known names. For these former WWE stars, jobs now vary from night club bouncer to strip club manager to still working as an independent wrestler. Times have certainly changed since their reigns as Intercontinental Champions. Let’s now take a look and find out who made this list and what they are up to today.
15 Road Dogg: Producer for the WWE
The 46 year old has had his fair share of ups and downs throughout his run in the pro wrestling business. James went through a dark time in his life where alcohol and drugs were all he really knew. Thankfully, the WWE intervened and got Road Dogg cleaned up through a rehabilitation program. This changed everything for the former 5-time Tag Team champion. In October of 2011, James made his return to the WWE after a hiatus of over 10 years. Road Dogg was signed on as an agent, and he would later make a brief in-ring return with his Tag Team partner, Billy Gunn. Today, you can find James backstage at every WWE event. He is now a producer for the company; great to see the 46 year old doing so well today.
14 Pat Patterson: Creative Consultant for the WWE
Pat Patterson has an historical significance to this list becoming the first ever WWE Intercontinental Champion way back in September of 1979. Not only is the title still around today, but Pat is actually still employed by the WWE 37 years later. Patterson transitioned his role from wrestler to backstage personnel in 1984. During the attitude era, Pat and Gerald Brisco became Vince McMahon’s right hand men. Patterson recalls the trio writing up a script for RAW poolside following an event. Man, oh man how times have changed! Today, Pat is still working with the company as a creative consultant, meaning Pat can stay home and spit out ideas as he pleases. The WWE Hall of Famer is still going strong at the age of 75.
13 Ahmed Johnson: Appearances & Autograph Signings
Johnson’s Intercontinental Championship victory was a little more special, as Ahmed became the first ever African American to win a Singles championship with the WWE. Following his career with the WWE, Ahmed spend a year in WCW, but Johnson was eventually let go after a year due to weight issues. After retiring from wrestling, Johnson earned himself a degree in criminology from Huston-Tillotson University. He is also still active today, making appearances and signing autographs at various wrestling conventions across the United States. Johnson’s WWE Hall of Fame induction remains in serious jeopardy because of the way he spoke about the company throughout the last couple of years during various shoot interviews. It remains to be seen if the WWE will ever acknowledge the 52 year old.
12 D’Lo Brown: Certified Public Accountant & Night Club Bouncer
Brown had quite the wrestling career spanning almost two decades. D’Lo spent some time with the WWE, TNA, New Japan and various other independent promotions. Today, at the age of 45, Brown is residing out of Las Vegas, Nevada. Just last year, Brown held a weekly class for Future Stars of Wrestling. Today, Brown is still available for bookings. He is also a certified public accountant, graduating from the University of Maine. Just recently, Brown was spotted bouncing at a nightclub in Las Vegas.
11 Hardcore Holly: Author
Holly takes a great amount of pride in the release of his new book, The Hardcore Truth: The Bob Holly Story. The autobiography offers a very truthful behind the scenes look at the career of Hardcore Holly. Holly describes the book as being a story and not really an autobiography. Asides from working on his new book, Holly enjoys automobiles, and he still has a strong passion for cars to this very day. Holly is also still active in autograph signings and appearances taking part in wrestling conventions.
10 Ricky Steamboat: Ambassador for the WWE
Steamboat goes down in history as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time. The only thing this guy was missing from his resume was a WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Despite never winning the grand prize, Steamboat was a revolutionary figure so ahead of his time, dazzling crowds with tremendous dropkicks and gifted athletic abilities. In 2009, Steamboat was inducted into the Hall of Fame by long time rival and good friend Ric Flair. During 2013, the former IC champ worked as an NXT trainer in the department of talent relations. This role lasted until the release of his son, Richie Steamboat. He was then later moved to a role as an ambassador for the WWE.
9 Ezekiel Jackson: Independent Wrestler
Ezekiel Jackson will probably go down in history as one of the least known Intercontinental Champions of all time. His championship run was short lived as you might expect, lasting less than eight weeks. After numerous injuries, the WWE and Jackson decided to part ways. Ezekiel went on to wrestle for TNA Wrestling, Lucha Underground and other independent wrestling promotions which included a pit stop in Germany for Westside Xtreme Wrestling.
8 Honky Tonk Man: Appearances & Autograph Signings
Believe it or not, Honky Tonk is still basking in the glory of his days in the 80s as the longest Intercontinental Champion of all time at 454 days. Today, Honky Tonk is still very much active on social media promoting various wrestling conventions and autograph sessions that he’s attending. He also sells various memorabilia along with personalized messages to fans. At the age of 63, the longest reigning IC champion is residing out of Gilbert, Arizona.
7 Ken Shamrock: Return to MMA
MMA fans were absolutely shocked when Shamrock announced his return to the Octagon at the age of 50. On June 19th, 2015, Shamrock took on Kimbo Slice at Bellator 138. Ken lost the match in the first round via TKO. It was later announced that Shamrock would take yet another fight, this time against long time rival Royce Gracie. The fight took place at Bellator 149 on February 19th, 2016. Once again, Ken was taken out in the first round with Gracie pummeling him. Following the matchup, it was revealed that Shamrock had failed his pre-fight drug test. At the age of 52, it remains to be seen if Ken will finally call it quits.
6 Jeff Jarrett: Global Force Wrestling
In case you’re wondering, yes, Jeff Jarrett is still trying to rival Vince McMahon, but this time with his newest acquisition of Global Force Wrestling. Jeff founded the company on April 7th, 2014. Jeff has been very active this month putting on various GFW shows in the UK (a huge wrestling market). The company has many household names on its main roster which include Chris Masters, Chris Sabin, Colt Cabana, Doc Gallows, Karl Anderson, Mickie James and former MMA star, Chael Sonnen.
5 Lance Storm: Storm Wrestling Academy
Lance was one of the most underrated wrestlers in the business during his time. Despite a terrible gimmick, Storm was blessed with tremendous talent that always seemed so effortless in the ring. Today, at the age of 46, Lance is now teaching his younger students in Calgary, Alberta, at his very own wrestling school, Storm Wrestling Academy. Lance is also still actively wrestling. Just recently on March 16th, Storm took Jay Lethal for the Ring of Honor World Championship at the PWA 15th Anniversary Show. The Ontario native came up short losing the match.
4 Shelton Benjamin: New Japan Pro Wrestling
On April 22, 2010, Shelton Benjamin was unfortunately part of a long list of wrestlers that were released, a list which included Jimmy Wang Yang, Funaki, Mickie James, Slam Master J and Katie Lea Burchill. Following his dismissal, like Del Rio, Benjamin quickly found work on the independent circuit. Later in 2010, Benjamin would reunite with his former Tag Team partner Charlie Haas, and the two would join Ring of Honor. After a successful run in ROH, Benjamin would join MVP wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling. At the age of 40, Benjamin is still putting on some fantastic matches outside of the WWE. In a recent interview, Benjamin did not rule out a return to the big company one day.
3 The Godfather: Manager at a strip club
This year is particularly special for Charles Wright. The Godfather officially cemented his legacy as a WWE superstar in the Hall of Fame. Wright enjoyed a 10 year career with the WWE. He was mostly remembered for his time under the gimmick as The Godfather. Today, the 54 year old is residing out of Las Vegas, Nevada, with his wife and four children. He is also the manager at the strip club Cheetah’s.
2 Marty Jannetty: Independent Wrestler
Yes, at the age of 56, Marty Jannetty is still actively wrestling on the independent circuit. In 2011, Marty signed a deal with Chikara, bringing him in as a trainer and wrestler. Today, Jannetty is still active in wrestling conventions signing autographs for fans. He is also still being promoted for independent shows. On April 11th Jannetty was involved in a Tag match at the Gold Coast Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
1 Shawn Michaels: MRA Hunting & WWE Ambassador
Shawn retiring wasn’t the easiest pill to swallow for the WWE, especially due to the fact that he still was one of the most talented individuals on the roster. Despite his retirement, Michaels has a 'legends contract' with the WWE which requires him to make a certain amount of guest appearances per year.
Outside of the WWE, Michaels is active with his show MacMillan River Adventures. The outdoor show features Michaels and his long time friend Keith Mark, hunting for big animals all around the world. Seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 can all be found on CarbonTV.