History of the Intercontinental Championship - Part One
by Samoa Rowe
-This is an ongoing series that is exclusively aired on WWE.com. Go sign up for the Legacy portion of the website for this and other features.
-Jack Korpela is our host. He talks about the first champion, Pat Patterson, who won the tournament in a tournament in Rio De Janeiro.
Pat Patterson © vs. Domenic DeNucci
December 17th 1979
Madison Square Garden
Patterson rejects a handshake from DeNucci as the bell rings. They lock up and have a shoving contest. DeNucci makes a clean break in the ropes. They reverse holds, going into the ropes for relief. Patterson strikes the face, sending DeNucci to the floor. Patterson hides out on the apron before running into an armdrag. Patterson knees the ribs, strikes into the corner, and targets the head. DeNucci is tempted to deliver a low blow and instead lifts Patterson onto the turnbuckle. DeNucci can’t decide what to do next, so Patterson capitalizes with a flurry of offense. A head butt by DeNucci evens things out. Hard Irish whip by DeNucci, who again considers a low blow, but instead works the leg. Patterson escapes and strikes the face and back. DeNucci is pissed and hits an airplane spin. Cover by DeNucci gets 2. DeNucci goes for a pinning combination, but only gets 2 again. Patterson monkey flips DeNucci into a pinning predicament and gets the win 6:26. Basic match, enhanced by some character moments, **.
Winner and still Intercontinental Champion: Pat Patterson
Pat Patterson © vs. Ken Patera (with The Grand Wizard)
April 21st 1980
Madison Square Garden
This rowdy NYC crowd hates Patera, who is billed as the "strongest man in the world." Patterson, who was something of a tweener when he faced DeNucci is the clear baby face this time. The Grand Wizard stalls for time in the ring, helping Patera remove his entrance attire. Patterson chases the Wizard into the arms of Patera. The match finally begins with a lock up into the corner. They lock up again with Patera shoving Patterson into the corner. They lock up again, this time Patterson catching Patera off guard with a duo of arm drags. Patterson works the arm with an aggressive wrist lock. Patterson stays on the arm for a while before Patera knocks him off. The pace quickens and Patterson outsmarts and goes back to the arm. Patterson aggressively drives his knee into the arm and even attempts the pin. Patera breaks but runs into a monkey flip. Arm drag by Patterson sets up another arm lock. Leg drop to the arm by Patterson and more resting. Patera backs Patterson into the corner and knees the midsection. Snapmare by Patera but an elbow drop misses. Patterson violently whips Patera’s arm around. More resting arm work by Patterson. Patera targets the midsection with some kicks and throws Patterson to ringside over the ropes. Patera drives Patterson into the steel barricade. Patera dishes out a scoop slam onto the floor, taking time in between offense to gloat in the ring. Patterson tries to get back into the ring, but Patera kicks him off. Patterson makes it to the apron, but immediately eats some forearm smashes. Patera chokes on the ropes and talks some smack, at the risk of getting disqualified. Patterson finally blocks but gets immediately elbowed in the eyes. Patera hits a couple of vicious backbreakers but can only get a cover for 2. Patera follows up with the back attack, hitting a hard Irish whip into a bear hug. Patterson is selling the bear hug as if it was death. Patterson clubs the head with everything he has to finally break the hold (the crowd is going nuts, by the way). Patterson grabs the ropes to block a full nelson. Patera goes back to the bear hug. Patterson counters a full nelson and follows up with a back body drop. Patterson is on fire, punishing Patera by slamming his leg into the ring post. Patterson repeatedly kicks the leg to massive crowd approval. Figure four by Patterson! Patera is trapped for while, almost getting pinned at times, before finally getting the ropes. Patterson gets the figure four again! Rope break by Patera. Patterson unleashes his fury with a series of strikes. Patera is visibly hurt, and Patterson stretches his leg around the ropes. The match is getting dirty. Hard Irish whip by Patera, but he misses with a charge into the turnbuckles. Cover by Patterson is broken by the ropes. Patterson thinks he should have won and argues with the referee. Frustrated, Patterson assaults and gets a shoulder block. Patera pushes Patterson into the ref! Patera goes high risk and drops a knee to the back. Cover by Patera, Patterson gets a rope break, but the referee doesn’t see it! Patera is declared the champion at 20:25! This was a fine wrestling match, full of emotion and intelligent grappling, ****.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Ken Patera
-Korpela puts things into perspective, mentioning that there have been over 50 Intercontinental Champions, and we’re only at number 3 now. I’m assuming that the Chris Benoit portions of the title history will be ignored in future installments, but otherwise this looks to be a very thorough program. Korpela talks about how Patera went on to lose the belt to Pedro Morales, who became a fighting champion.
Pedro Morales © vs. Sgt. Slaughter (with The Grand Wizard)
June 8th 1981
Madison Square Garden
Slaughter is furious with the crowd’s “Gomer” chants. That’s just precious. A shoving contest kicks off the match. They slug it out, and things get dirty as both men rake the eyes. Snapmare by Slaughter sets up some knee strikes and a cover attempt. They block turnbuckle shots, with Morales getting the upper hand. Slaughter is in a daze and is an easy target for some clubbing blows. Morales drives Slaughter into the turnbuckles. Morales continues to methodically strike Slaughter. The referee condemns Morales and misses Slaughter pulling something out of his tights and hiding it in his elbow pad. Slaughter begs for mercy, but Morales continues to dish out the pounding. Slaughter elbows the head, assisted by whatever he’s hiding in his pad. The referee is suspicious, making him smarter than 90% of modern day referees. Slaughter goes high risk, threatening to leap onto Morales on the floor (that would have been an insane spot for 1981). Morales avoids the attack by getting back into the ring. Slaughter goes high risk again, but this time Morales knocks him off. Slaughter recovers and they slut it out, with Morales gaining the advantage. Slaughter is in a daze and is easily knocked down. Slaughter accidentally targets the referee, earning himself a disqualification at 6:44. Entertaining brawl, **½.
Winner by DQ: Pedro Morales
-After the match, they continue to brawl. Slaughter intentionally knocks the referee away so the fight can continue. Slaughter starts choking the referee on the ropes, but Morales breaks it up. Slaughter celebrates his moral victory and heads to the back.
Final Thoughts: Good first installment. The Patterson/Patera match is an epic worth your time. Otherwise, this is solid action and each match has historical significance. I look forward to seeing this series continue through the years, though I’m curious about what’s going to happen when Benoit’s multiple reigns spring up.