The wrestling world is full of icons and superstars, which means that there's always a wealth of potential dream matches on the cards. Sometimes, due to contracts, timing or injuries, these matches never come to pass. Just occasionally, though, the fans get lucky.
Moments like The Rock and Hulk Hogan or Bret Hart and Stone Cold Steve Austin standing across the ring from each other at WrestleMania will live on forever. But some dream matches just do not live up to the hype. Here we take a look at 10 potential dream matches that just happened many years after they should have.
10 Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan
Hulk Hogan has been involved in a few inter-generational face-offs. His aforementioned bout with The Rock was a clash of leading icons from two different wrestling periods. His match with Shawn Michaels had similar potential, as HBK was one of two men who carried what was then known as the WWF after Hulkster’s departure.
But their SummerSlam 2005 match just wasn’t the epic clash it should have been. This was mostly down to Hogan’s backstage politicking in the run-up; he refused to lose to Michaels at any point in a potential series of matches, and then left HBK to sell it by himself on TV ahead of the PPV. As a result, Michaels oversold everything on the night in a match that highlighted Hogan’s physical limitations. In the early 1990s, when Michaels was an Intercontinental Champion and Hogan the top star, this would have been epic.
9 Sting vs. Bret Hart
These two icons clashed a few times during their time in WCW together. Hart had been a shining light of WWF following the departure of Hulk Hogan, while Sting had been the de facto face of the NWA and WCW at the same time.
When they met in WCW, Sting had adopted his darker, edgier Crow persona, giving up some of the flash and speed of his bleached blonde persona. Hart, meanwhile, has been accused of not committing properly to his WCW run, but a year of poor booking had taken away his aura. This potential clash of titans just wasn’t a showstopper.
8 Sting vs. Triple H
Another clash between the Stinger and a WWE superstar was this face-off at WrestleMania 31. It should have taken place in the early 2000s during the Invasion storyline, but HHH was injured and Sting refused to work for Vince McMahon.
When he finally did arrive in WWE at Survivor Series, Sting immediately faced down The Authority and put himself on course for a match with Triple H at WrestleMania. The pair worked hard to get round the 56-year-old Sting’s physical limitations and created a nice throwback match for the Monday Night Wars – but it could have been epic.
7 Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon
Had this match taken place in the late 1990s after the Montreal Screwjob (when Hart was at his best and McMahon was at the peak of his heel powers), it would have been one of the hottest contests of all time.
Unfortunately, by WrestleMania XXVI, both men were too old to put on much of a physical match; McMahon has never been the best wrestler but Hart could, in his prime, get a good match out of anyone. But at this point he was feeling his age and could not even take a bump.
6 Hulk Hogan vs. Bret Hart
The Excellence of Execution’s run in WCW threw up a slew of potential dream matches, but poor booking meant Hart was not at the top of his game for much of the period and this match with Hogan in 1998 was a classic example.
The clash should have happened in 1993 in the WWF, but Hogan refused. by the time they met five years later, the Hulkster was showing his limits in the ring and even Hart could not create the classic it should have been.
5 Goldberg vs. Undertaker
Two true icons of their time, face to face? This should have been an epic encounter of two of the greatest talents the wrestling world has ever known. That is, if it had happened in 2001. Unfortunately, wrestling fans saw this match about 20 years too late.
By the time Goldberg and The Undertaker met at Super ShowDown earlier this year, the two were too old to put on much of a match. What fans got, in the end, was a couple of big moves from each man, some slow strikes and a bit of a mess.
4 Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
Another potentially awesome face-off between two fearsome competitors, this match was torpedoed by the personal and professional situations both men were in at the time. The build had been strong – Goldberg cost Lesnar the WWE Championship and the Beast asked Vince McMahon for the match on the grandest stage of them all.
But when they got there, both men had announced their intention to leave the promotion and only guest referee Stone Cold Steve Austin got any positive reaction from the crowd. Played out a year or so earlier, with both men invested, this would have been a hard-hitting classic.
3 Demolition vs. Legion of Doom
When Demolition appeared in WWF, many compared them to the Legion of Doom, so a potential match between the two was always high on fans’ wishlists. Once LoD arrived in WWF, re-branded as Road Warriors, fans began to clamour for them to face off.
Unfortunately, by the time they did, on Wrestling Challenge in 1991, Demolition had lost some of their aura, Ax was being phased out and it was Crush who teamed with Smash to face Hawk and Animal. At the height of their powers, the two teams could have produced a tag team classic.
2 Hulk Hogan vs. Sting
This one may raise a few eyebrows, as it was an epic match which was about a year in the making. Hogan and his NWO cohorts were running wild in WCW and the Stinger – in his new Crow guise – was out to stop them.
But when they came face to face at Starrcade in 1997, Sting was visibly smaller and less explosive than he had been in his California hero days. The match and feud were great, but a match between Hogan in his prime and Sting in his bleached blonde heyday would have been even better.
1 WCW vs WWF
Arguably, no confrontation has had more build-up than the Invasion angle. Fans had been clamouring for WWF vs WCW for the whole of the Monday Night Wars and a whole host of dream match-ups had been thought up.
But when the two factions came face to face after Vince McMahon bought WCW, it was a pale imitation of what it could have been. For starters, many top WCW stars – Sting and Goldberg to name just two – sat it out, then WWF had to boost the WCW ranks by sending Stone Cold across. It could have been epic, but it wasn’t.