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Why Is WWE Superstar Gunther's Intercontinental Title Reign So Special?

History has been made – and celebration is in order!

By Chris Phelan
Gunther walks to the ring.

Brace yourselves, WWE Universe: One of the most iconic records in WWE history has been broken. 

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And it only took 35 years.

WWE Superstar Gunther has done the impossible: He has officially held the Intercontinental Championship longer than any other person in history. As of Friday, September 8, 2023, Gunther has held the illustrious title for an astonishing 455 days – and counting. WWE took to social media to celebrate the occasion, with Triple H congratulating the dominant champion.

As a former Intercontinental Champion himself, Triple H's words undoubtedly resonate with the WWE Universe. Often a title that bounces from Superstar to Superstar, the Intercontinental Championship has found a seemingly permanent home – around the waist of one of the most physically imposing men ever to step foot in the ring. 

However, USA Insider must pay respects to the man who previously held the Intercontinental Championship longevity record to better understand the significance of Gunther's accomplishments. 

Who Was the Previous Longest-Reigning Intercontinental Champion?

Long before Gunther's year-plus reign of dominance began, WWE legend The Honky Tonk Man held the distinction of being the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. For 454 days between 1987 and 1988, The Honky Tonk Man held onto the title at all costs – but there was nothing admirable about his title defense.

The Honky Tonk Man used the WWE rulebook to his advantage, intentionally losing title matches by countout or disqualification. This result would end as an official loss but would keep the championship around his waist. Honky Tonk's cowardly ways propelled him to become WWE's most hated villain in the 80s, and it wasn't until The Ultimate Warrior steamrolled him in decisive fashion that his controversial reign ended.

To say the reigns of The Honky Tonk Man and Gunther are polar opposites is the understatement of the year.

Why Is This Title Reign So Special?

Gunther wears a black outfit and boots during Wrestlemania RAW

In a way, Gunther's current 455-day reign as Intercontinental Champion is even more impressive when compared to the way The Honky Tonk Man strategized and plotted new ways to retain the title. Because Gunther made history via brute force.

Hard-hitting matches have become the hallmark of Gunther, and the fact that he endured countless title defenses since winning the title from Ricochet in June 2022 makes his reign infinitely more impressive. From classic bouts against the likes of Drew McIntyre, Sheamus, and, most recently, Chad Gable, Gunther has transformed the title into a true workhorse championship. Most impressively, Gunther is showing no signs of wearing down. Like a star NFL running back who only gets better as the game goes on, it seems to the WWE Universe that Gunther is becoming more dominant with each successful title defense. Every WWE Superstar that has tried to wrest the championship from him has failed; all dominoes fall in the shadow of Gunther.

Many well-known Superstars have held the Intercontinental Title. Still, none have done what Gunther has done – he has carved out a legacy built on systematically demolishing his opponents in the ring. Gunther is the Intercontinental Championship – and the Intercontinental Championship is Gunther.

Isn't Roman Reigns' Run as Champion More Impressive?

Roman Reigns lifts his belt above his head in a moment of passion

While many in the WWE Universe are quick to point to Roman Reigns' otherworldly 1,100-plus-day reign as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion as the high watermark in WWE, we're here to tell you that Gunther's recent accomplishment is far more impressive – with all due respect to the Tribal Chief, of course.

Gunther has 14 successful title defenses under his belt, each arguably more impressive than the last:

We're not trying to get on Roman Reigns' bad side when we say this, but we have to point out the obvious: The Tribal Chief doesn't seem to particularly care to defend his championship lately. In fact, Roman Reigns has only four title defenses in 2023 – a far cry from the workmanlike schedule Gunther has defended the Intercontinental Championship around. It's easy to stay a champion when you never defend your title; Gunther is the unparalleled definition of a fighting champion, something that clearly has inspired other Raw Superstars (Seth Rollins, we're looking at you).

Now that he is the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time and has run through the entire Monday Night Raw roster, what's next for Gunther? The WWE Universe will have to wait and find out – although we have to admit, the prospect of Gunther being the other piece of the Jey Uso trade is possible. Gunther has already defeated all comers on Raw – is it possible he moves to SmackDown for fresh competition?

Whatever happens, we know that Gunther will bring his unique brand of dominance to every match he's scheduled for. Now that he has broken The Honky Tonk Man's 35-year-old record, we and the WWE Universe are excited to see how far Gunther can take his most recent accolade.

You can tune in to Peacock to watch WWE's Fastlane on October 7. In the meantime, catch up on all things WWE Universe on Peacock.

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