The Steel Cage

TSC: Rick Martel

If there is one thing about the past history of professional wrestling that bothers me (well, there are tons of things that bother me, but I’ll pick just the one, for now), its that Rick Martel, between 1989 and 1991, didn’t have a run with the Intercontinental title.

Don’t get me wrong here, I totally understand why. The IC division was thriving with the likes of Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Ultimate Warrior, Kerry Von Erich and top name talent challenging such as”the Big Bossman? Hmmm”well, he was over!
Sadly for Martel, he was around at a time when the WWF was bursting with talent and he missed his turn I guess, but as the Model, he could have been one of the greatest, most memorable heel IC champions of the past 25 years. Scratch that, he WOULD have been one of the most memorable IC champions EVER!
As a babyface teaming initially with Tom Zenk (who eventually had a tantrum and threw all of his toys out of his pram) and then Tito Santana, Martel was a fast moving, somewhat high flying ‘youngster’ tag team competitor who held the WWF tag titles. He was over, his teams were over, he made a great, handsome smiling babyface, people loved the guy.
When he was put out of action by Demolition who nailed him with their finish (ON THE FLOOR!!!) and Strike Force split, people were genuinely upset and missed Martel. The WWF produced his injury perfectly, putting a large spread in WWF Magazine about his visit to the doctors complete with photographs and comments, they updated his health progress on WWF TV shows and for the most part people thought Martel was retired.
The news in early 1989 that he was coming back, AND rejoining Tito to re-form Strike Force was something people popped for. His comeback was slated for WrestleMania V on April 2nd in Atlantic City, his opponents the Brain Busters.
The match began as normal, the fans marked for the return of Strike Force, and then Tito nailed Martel and knocked him off the apron. An obvious accident, Martel didn’t see it that way, and stormed off to the back, leaving Santana to get beaten to a pulp by Anderson and Blanchard. This was just the start for Martel as a heel, and he finally showcased his promo skills, starting right after the match backstage, stood with Gene Okerlund telling Santana how sick of him he was.
After a short feud with Tito which was wasted and under booked, Martel was re-packaged as the Model, complete with fine suits, a poodle perm and his own fragrance known as ‘Arrogance’. The package was complete, the guy was a mega heat catching heel who people HATED!
As mentioned previously, the talent at that level and in the midcard of the WWF was busting at the time, and this is the only reason I can see for Martel never getting his run with the IC gold.
As much as I love Mr Perfect, his IC title runs weren’t really all that memorable. He only held it for a short time in 1990 before dropping it to Von Erich, who due to his own drug induced hazes was forced to drop it back to Perfect 3 months later. Perfect then was thrown into Rick Rudes program after Rude bolted and languished in matches with the Big Bossman which went nowhere. The IC title was officially overshadowed by Bossmans feud with Heenan who had taken to calling Bossmans mother all sorts of names.
In my opinion, THIS would have been the opportune time to put the IC title on Martel. People genuinely hated the man, he could have claimed the IC title was a fashion accessory and paraded it around the catwalks in Paris. He could have changed the strap to match his wrestling attire and more importantly than that, he could have weaselled his way out of match after match just before losing, constantly escaping by the skin of his perfectly straight, white teeth. It would have been great.
Martel had the in-ring talent, I mean the guy could work. He had the presence and the mic skills to be equal to the Honky Tonk Man as the most despised Intercontinental champion of that era.
It is a shame that it never happened, its something I’ve thought over often, the possibilities were endless with Martel, the gimmick had so much shelf life and could have gone on for years.
Martel is just another guy who, like DiBiase, Orndorf, Rude with the WWF title, would have been fun to see having a title run that never happened. I wonder how things would have been different if they had.
Rick Martel, I salute you, former future Intercontinental Champion!

2 replies on “TSC: Rick Martel”

I agree with you! Another wrestler who I would have loved to see have the belt for more than a week would have been Andre The Giant. He only had it for a week if im not mistaken…and how did Jake Roberts not become Intercontinental Champion?

Couldn’t agree more. You also didn’t mention how they started building a feud between him and Beefcake in late 89 which ended up going NOWHERE, then Beefcake of all people was to get the IC Title of Perfect, that is until his parasailing accident.

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