Induction: The Wrestlemania 31 Intercontinental Title Hunt – Turd is the Word

40 Submitted by on Thu, 24 March 2016, 20:00

WWE, 2015

By now we’ve all heard that Stuart “Wade Barrett” Bennett won’t be renewing his WWE contract later this year. It’s a shame, really, since Barrett was at one point, astoundingly, getting over with the fans with his “Bad News Barrett” gimmick — and as a babyface, no less.

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Then again, it’s perfectly understandable why Barrett wouldn’t care to continue in WWE if you recall how he spent 2015.

At least WWE Creative has a sense of irony, as I’m pretty sure this is how their meeting with Barrett went at the outset of 2015.

“Wade, you’re going to be the new Intercontinental Champion…

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…but I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news!”

In this case, the bad news was that he would turn heel again, have the worst Intercontinental reign in history, and lose the title after one of the worst builds in Wrestlemania history.

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(Creative’s meeting with Barrett about winning the King of the Ring used practically the same punchline)

The year started out well for Wade Barrett, who beat Dolph Ziggler in a two-out-of-three falls match to win the Intercontinental title.

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Now that Barrett had a title, the WWE Creative Team felt he no longer needed to win any matches, so he proceeded to — ahem —

…lose to Sin Cara… hotpotato05
hotpotato06 …lose to Dean Ambrose…
lose to Dolph Ziggler hotpotato07
hotpotato08 lose to R-Truth
lose to Dolph Ziggler again hotpotato09
hotpotato10 lose to Daniel Bryan
lose to Dean Ambrose again hotpotato11
hotpotato12 lose to Daniel Bryan again
…and lose to Dean Ambrose yet again, this time in a six-man tag match. hotpotato13

And along the way, he was on the losing team in a few tag matches as well.

Needless to say, the title wasn’t on the line in any of these matches. The beauty of non-title matches is their unpredictability; since their outcomes seldom affect the story line, there’s no way to guess who will win or lose based on how you think an angle will play out. Since the results don’t matter, you never know who will win! Nor do you care!

Thus, every Tom, Dolph, and Harry was pinning poor Wade faster than Cole could say, “What a win this would be!”

It was as if WWE wanted to bring back the hot-shot, crash-TV paradigm of the Attitude Era, where hardly a week went by without one champion or another being beaten

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— except that in 2015, the champion somehow still got to keep his title.

All in all, Wade Barrett’s one-on-one record (before finally dropping the IC title at Wrestlemania) was 3-8; his only two pinfall victories came over Sin Cara on Smackdown (the B-show) and Main Event (for which the English alphabet is too short to convey its irrelevance).

His other “win” was a disqualification victory over Dean Ambrose when the challenger wouldn’t stop beating up the champion.

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That cheap finish left Ambrose unsatisfied, so he stole Wade Barrett’s belt…

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…and kicked off a game of hot-potato with the Intercontinental strap leading into Wrestlemania, where Barrett would defend his title in a ladder match against “multiple competitors” to be determined later.

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Seeing as how the Intercontinental title meant a future full of non-stop jobbing for whomever was unlucky enough to win the championship, fans should have been hoping for their favorite man in the ladder match to lose, not win.

In my case, that meant rooting against an IC title run for Daniel Bryan…

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…but it turned out that I should have been rooting against him anyway, because he’s a turd. Or so said Dean Ambrose after a six-man tag victory.

“Can you say that on TV?” asked The King. Well, you couldn’t in 1978, when George Carlin updated his list of words you couldn’t say on television, but, he said, “when you get right down to it, who wants to say it?”

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The answer: Dolph Ziggler, who cut off Ambrose’s music just to reiterate that Daniel Bryan, popular as he may have been, was a turd.

Whether you thought the word, “turd” was filthy or just juvenile, it was certainly the first time anyone had ever used it on WWE programming…

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…minus any time Sheamus talked about winning the title for a “third time,” but that doesn’t count.

Michael Cole later weighed in on the Daniel Bryan turd debate and its implications for that night’s main event.

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(Daniel Bryan would be sidelined by an injury and retired before we ever got to find out how he was a turd)

So with a ladder match on the horizon…

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…and with the title in Ambrose’s possession…

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…Wade stole back his belt…

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…which was then stolen by R-Truth…

…who returned it to Dean…

…who returned it to Dean…

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…who lost it to Luke Harper…

…who got mugged for the belt by Dolph…

…who got mugged for the belt by Dolph…

…only for Wade and Luke to tussle over it…

…only for Wade and Luke to tussle over it…

…which allowed Truth to abscond with it…

…which allowed Truth to abscond with it…

…and hand it over again, this time to Daniel Bryan…

…and hand it over again, this time to Daniel Bryan…

…who lost it in a sneak attack by Stardust…

…who lost it in a sneak attack by Stardust…

…who got relieved of the gold by Dean…

…who got relieved of the gold by Dean…

…who lost track of the belt during a brawl, allowing R-Truth to sneak away with it again in a burlap bag.

…who lost track of the belt during a brawl, allowing R-Truth to sneak away with it again in a burlap bag.

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Truth then pretended to return it to Wade, but when Bad News opened the burlap bag, he was extremely disappointed to find…

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Rey Mysterio’s mask!

No, sorry. It was one of those flimsy kids’ replica championships, which was apparently still heavy enough for Barrett to mistake it for the real thing.

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Leave it to WWE to both:

  1. ban all references to a “belt” being the physical object a champion wears and
  2. construct an entire Wrestlemania program built around that very object.

Finally, in a single segment, the belt (or championship title) passed from Truth (who wore a special hook on his back to hold the belt)…

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…to Dust…

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…to Dean…

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… to Truth…

r-truth ic title

…to Dolph and Daniel…

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…and finally back to Wade Barrett, its rightful owner (well, “rightful” except for the part where he lost over and over again)…

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…at which point Michael Cole assured the naïve Booker T that Barrett’s unprecedented losing streak was now moot. I mean, he may have lost all of his matches in the past month, but he also performed well in a brawl and got his trophy back. That put him ahead in Cole’s book.

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Of course, just because someone had the title didn’t mean they had the title. Uh, by which I mean, just stealing the physical belt didn’t make any of those men Intercontinental Champion. The only way to win the title officially, of course, was to beat the champion by pinfall or submission.

Which most of them did.

And the real kicker was that whoever ended up in possession of the belt by Wrestlemania knew he would have to surrender it anyway for the ladder match.

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I don’t understand why anyone would care about a title so meaningless that you could lose every match and still hold on to it, and I can’t imagine why anyone would risk life and limb in a chaotic ladder match to win such a title. But seven of WWE’s mid-carders felt differently.

So what was the big deal about this Intercontinental belt that everybody wanted so badly? Well, it was… shiny, and that white strap was pretty snappy, but you could always just buy a full-size replica from WWE Shop.

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(Like this guy did)

Cole had a different theory: “It’s all about the prestige of the Intercontinental Championship.”

Sorry, Maggil, but this angle, with its silly hot-potato antics and outright burial of the reigning champion, only brings to mind one word…

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…and it ain’t “prestige.”

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
40 Responses to "Induction: The Wrestlemania 31 Intercontinental Title Hunt – Turd is the Word"
  1. John C says:

    “I’m Turd Ferguson and I approve of this induction.”

  2. John Capion says:

    Damn good entry. Nice job.

  3. ChunkyLover53 says:

    I thought the angle was kinda fun. I mean, it did pay attention to the IC title, which is rare these days.

    • B-bop says:

      I get the feeling that there were good intentions behind it, especially since on the same show they put the US title on Cena clearly indicating that they wanted their second-tier titles to mean more, but it was executed absolutely horribly. The one thing that saved it somewhat was the unfortunate fact that Bryan ultimately had his last big moment in winning it, which means the match itself (which was fun as expected) has a bit more of an unintended legacy than it would have otherwise.

      • Si says:

        I liked Bryan’s idea he floated that he’d only defend the title on Smackdown to give the B-show some prestige, though it turned round and bit him given it was the very next Smackdown after Mania in which he picked up his career-ending concussion. At least it meant nobody really remembers the “turd” business, which was clearly an attempt to pick up where they’d left off a year earlier except with complete disregard to stakes, events, outside perception and everything else.

        The other thing about this build people forget is it accidentally led to the company getting bad mainstream publicity over its treatment of women – R-Truth on commentary one Raw tried to get #GiveRTruthAChance trending, only for enterprising Twitter fans to instead change that slightly after that same show’s subsequent infamous 31-second ridiculousness. That in turn led to AJ’s tweets to Steph and WWE then panicking themselves into the route that leads us to where we are today (a meaningless ten-Diva tag match involving someone who’s never worked so much as a developmental house show before and for which the final build is happening on Main Event)

  4. Mister Forth says:

    This angle was painful. What’s scary is they almost did this again this year.

  5. #OPC says:

    Don’t forget that time Bobby Lashley called Finlay a “bathturd”.

  6. Sean Bateman says:

    That build up is way better than this year’s one

    • Si says:

      For me the worst thing they’ve done with that build this year is bring up Sami Zayn knowing they weren’t going to go one-on-one at Mania. Imagine instead if he’d debuted at the post-WM Raw as Owens was crowing about beating everyone who was after him, then you’ve got actual time to introduce casuals to and build their blood feud until a big Summerslam match at least. Instead they spent one Miz TV segment building up their feud for new viewers (and Kevin hasn’t so much as laid a finger on Sami yet, in fact his only Raw match so far saw KO distract Miz instead), then practically dropped the heated nature of it immediately, and now they’re presenting Sami and Zack Ryder as equals in hatred.

  7. Matt S. says:

    I would have probably booked it this way in EWR. But then again I have issues….

    • Thun says:

      Then again the game probably would think this was a good storyline. Not saying it’s bad but hot potatoing a belt on television really doesn’t seem that fun when it goes to the point of one of the guys just lobbing the freaking thing.

  8. Alexandru says:

    Yeah that Nikki Bella Wins and losses promo gave me huge douche chills just like this angle, grown men “stealing” a mid-card title that didn’t make them the actual champion

  9. Autrach Sejanoz says:

    “Whether you thought the word, “turd” was filthy or just juvenile, it was certainly the first time anyone had ever used it on WWE programming…”
    What about the time Derek Bateman (TNA’s Ethan Carter III) called Dolph Ziggler “Turd Ferguson” on NXT?

  10. Zero says:

    And this would be followed up by the winner of said ladder match being forced to vacate the title, which lead to the hilariously bad Elimination Chamber match for the IC title.

    Sometimes I think the IC title could have its own wing in the Wrestlecrap Hall of Fame.

  11. Gerard says:

    Ok I am going to confess something I have no idea what the intercontinental belt is supposed to represent anyhow?? Like I mean tag team belts mean your the best two or yes three man team. Divas title means your the best female wrestler, heavyweight champion means your the best wrestler in the world but intercontinental Belt means…????

  12. D-Unit says:

    Actually, this wasn’t the first time “Turd” was used. In 1997 after the Screwjob, Shawn Michaels cut a promo about how the whole Hart family was a giant turd, and he flushed them all down the toilet, except for Owen, who was the “nugget” that kept popping back up

  13. B-bop says:

    What’s the point in the IC title, really? Intercontinental surely is just another word for ‘world’ so it’s basically a second ‘world’ title that isn’t booked as such. It would mae more sense to replace it with the European title, then you’d have a continental belt and a national belt with clear distinctions from the main championship.

    • CP says:

      It isn’t. It really isn’t.

    • Jed Shaffer says:

      You could look at it one of two ways:

      1) Since the title was spawned from the old WWWF North American Title, and it was “won” in a “tournament” in Brazil, its history spans two continents.

      Or, 2) It represents the North American continent. Inside the continent, internal, intercontinental.

      Yeah, I know, that one is hogwash (the proper term would be intracontinental), but I’ve actually heard that explanation.

    • Mark Smart says:

      the way I see it, the Intercontinental Title is really just the Beta championship. It was intended to give midcarders something to fight over and be a springboard towards going for the big belt. It was a way to see how a guy could handle a title reign. This didn’t matter much in the 80s cuz Hogan was staying on top but eventually guys like Savage and Warrior who had been IC champs were given World titles.

      But in the meantime it also allowed heels to win a belt since they weren’t getting it off Hogan. I guess INTERCONTINENTAL sounded cool and wasn’t quite on the same scale as the World Title. Whereas the IC belt could only technically pertain to the continents, the World title could also include the oceans and even the atmosphere. I know it sounds ridiculous but in the 80s these guys were walking talking comic book/cartoon characters. There was a point where they speculated Warrior came from another planet so…………

      actually I came up with a system for WWE 2K16 for Universe play/EFeds or whatever as far as the titles go. There was the World title which was reserved for the Legends (Undertaker, Stone Cold, Hogan, etc) , then there was the WWE title which were for the big name guys that were still mostly active or not quite “Legends” (Cena, Kane, Big Show) but for the IC title I went with an international type division like the World Cup. So only guys from other countries could challenge for it. say Sheamus (Ireland) vs William Regal (England) or Jericho (Canada) vs. Rey Mysterio (Mexico). this also would give the US Title value because the US Champion would have to be from the USA and only the US champion could challenge for the IC title.

      hypothetically if WWE were to do that then at least there would be some semblance of value and guidelines. get enough title defenses as the IC champ and then you get to challenge for the World Title, the kicker would be you’d have to forfeit the belt to get the shot. So if they lost, they’d have to go challenge for the IC title again. IDK looks good on paper and does great in a game but something tells me it wouldn’t work in the WWE.

  14. CP says:

    Uh oh, Art Billy Gunn’d the induction.

  15. JSWH says:

    I enjoyed R-Truth’s antics during this

    • Guest says:

      Even the one that involved him and Barett getting into an awful feud over the ring to call themselves King?

  16. Gabriel Benson says:

    I can enjoy a funny story from time to time, but I can definitely see why WWE has made Barrett retire. Ugh

  17. Brad says:

    The match itself was kind of fun albeit in a funny aneurysm way considering it probably didn’t help Bryan’s condition, but the build up was so tacky, and lazy. I get why they would have multi-man matches, but it just seems like they do it so often now it just seems lazy.

  18. Geoff says:

    It could’ve been worse. They could’ve gave him the name Bad News Brown, brought back Piper from retirement (or in this case death) and then have them feud with each other all the while a dead Piper was half black/half white. To make things go a bit more extreme, they could’ve painted Barrett half white/half black and then beat each other senseless over the head with coconuts. Note to WWE: NOT AN IDEA!!!!

    • ChunkyLover53 says:

      If there’s any feud that was lazy, pointless, and had no meaning behind it, it was the Piper/Bad News Brown “feud”. It started when Piper eliminated Brown from the Royal Rumble, then Bad News coming back in and eliminates him. They brawl all the way back to the locker room which gives the feud a potential start.

      They then do nothing to advance the feud until WrestleMania and then had a match that consisted of THE EXACT SAME THING THEY WERE DOING AT THE RUMBLE, except in a one on one match where they ended up being counted out.

      Even back when I was in full-blown mark mode(I was 3 then and watched it later on tape growing up) that feud still confused me.

  19. MistaMaddog says:

    Calling people “turds”? Hotshotting the IC belt around like the game Monkey In The Middle? This is like a grade school version of the Attitude Era…

  20. Lee W. says:

    A time when IC could have just as well stood for idiotic crap as much as intercontinental

  21. Guest says:

    “I don’t understand why anyone would care about a title so meaningless that you could lose every match and still hold on to it,”

    This is exactly the way I felt about AJ Lee’s first and unnecessarily long divas title reign which more or less saw her being subjected to the same exact thing.

    And yet everyone swears that AJ and her 1st reign were hot shit.

  22. John Barnes says:

    Surprised you didn’t mention that Dean’s original motivation for the IC Championship was so he could have his face on the wall at Titan Towers, much like somebody who ate the big burger at a restaurant.

  23. ohellmotel says:

    “Of course, just because someone had the title didn’t mean they had the title. Uh, by which I mean, just stealing the physical belt didn’t make any of those men Intercontinental Champion. The only way to win the title officially, of course, was to beat the champion by pinfall or submission.”

    The irony being that in the actual WrestleMania match, pins and submissions meant nothing, and the only way to actually win the title was to… snatch the physical belt.

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