Wrestling is a game of what ifs. What if a particular wrestler faces another? What if a particular wrestler enters the Royal Rumble and wins it all? When looking at wrestling, you have to be realistic and accept that some of these dream matches just aren't plausible and aren't going to happen. Wrestling isxf split into eras and people often ask what if a wrestler from the Attitude Era faced a wrestler from this New Era? People have been asking these kinds of questions since wrestling began to rise in popularity. There are wrestlers who would thrive in other eras and others that you know would have a killer match with someone from this current era.
With that in mind, a lot of the dream matches that people were hoping for, really could've happened. Many were being set up, only for a complication or issue to arise and throw a wrench into those plans. With this list, we'll take a look at 15 matches that were on the brink of happening, only to be avoided for a variety of reasons. Enjoy!
15 Steve Austin vs. Goldberg
As two of the baldest (and baddest) people of the Attitude Era, it seems that Austin and Goldberg were destined to clash, but unfortunately the timing was just never right. In 2003, Austin had his final match at WrestleMania XIX. When Goldberg debuted right after that event, many hoped it would lead to a match, as fans didn't think Austin's retirement would stick. Apparently, Austin was open to the idea, but due to his ongoing neck injuries which forced him to retire, the match never happened. The closest we got was Austin referring Goldberg's final match during that run at WrestleMania XX. If this match would have happened before Austin retired, it would have been a clash between the two biggest forces in WCW and WWE during the Attitude Era and would've likely sold like crazy. As recently as last year, Goldberg said he'd love to face Austin is he returned to WWE. He just returned to WWE, so never say never, I guess.
14 Mick Foley vs. Dean Ambrose
Though the seeds had been planted for this match in 2012, Mick Foley's health fell through and we did not get to witness what would've been one of the most hardcore matches WWE has ever put on. The premise of the feud was that Ambrose was constantly harassing Mick Foley at fan meet-ups and on Twitter because he was the reason for a generation of wrestlers injuring themselves and it would've touched on Ambrose's hardcore roots. The program was eventually canceled because Foley was also in no condition to compete. This match had the potential to be a legitimate send off for Mick Foley and could have skyrocketed Ambrose into the main event scene, almost an entire year before he would debut with The Shield, but sadly, it never happened.
13 Chris Benoit vs. CM Punk
Both men exemplified what it meant to be counter-culture in the WWE and were scheduled to clash at the 2007 Night of Champions Pay Per View. Both men had won qualifying matches to face off for the ECW World Championship and this match had been hyped up as a dream match of sorts all throughout that month. Each wrestler was known for their strong strikes, deadly suplexes and great technical wrestling prowess, with both having worked the Indies (ECW, Japan etc. for Benoit) and generating a lot of respect there. However, Chris Benoit no-showed the match, preventing the match from ever happening and he was replaced with Johnny Nitro, who would go on to beat CM Punk for the belt that night. It was later revealed that he no-showed due to the tragic murder-suicide story that swept across mainstream media.
12 Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan
The two biggest wrestlers of two different generations were supposed to clash in 2002 once the nWo was brought back as the "poison" that Vince injected to kill his own creation. Austin was the anti-hero that was going to protect WWE, not because he liked it, but because he was obliged to. Hulk Hogan even called Steve Austin out during a 2005 episode of RAW and people knew that it had only been two years since Austin's last match, so it seemed possible for him to return. Austin, however, had decided that after his final match in 2003 he wasn't ever going to wrestle again and he has kept that promise so far. Austin has even gone on record and said that the match probably wouldn't be that good. He acknowledged that it would draw money, but the two worked very different styles and the pacing wouldn't be the greatest, especially since neither would want to work heel.
11 Shawn Michaels vs. Eddie Guerrero
Two of the most charismatic wrestlers in the history of the business and two of the best performers in WWE history were scheduled to clash in 2006 at WrestleMania 22. It was planned to be another chapter in the brand war story (much like Angle vs. HBK a year later) and would've likely tore the house down. It was bound to be a great match full of action and emotion (something both men were masters of) and would have gone down as one of the best matches in WrestleMania history. Sadly, Guerrero passed before the storyline could be started and Michaels ended up facing Vince McMahon in a rather poor match, while Eddie was honored when his best friend, Rey Mysterio, won the World Heavyweight Championship in a great triple threat match.
10 Sting vs. Kurt Angle
WrestleMania X8 is often heralded as the best WrestleMania ever, due to the dream match between The Rock and Hulk Hogan and its all around great card. At the time, there were also talks of Sting coming into the WWE to face Kurt Angle and it was going to take place at that show. Sting had made it known that he didn't want to sign with WWE when they originally bought WCW from Time Warner because he knew that they would eventually treat him poorly because he was not a home grown talent. He sat out the rest of his contract with Time Warner and, by the time it was up, WrestleMania X8 was on the horizon. Former WWE creative staff member and current TNA creative member Dave Lagana recalls Sting being in talks with WWE about coming into WWE in 2002 and working a match with Kurt Angle at WrestleMania X8. The main reason this deal fell apart was because Sting was unwilling to work the full WWE schedule. He was already 43 years old and wasn't prepared for the workload. Now, we know Sting and Angle fought in TNA, but imagine how much better it would've been if they fought at WrestleMania while Angle was at his peak and Sting was closer to his.
9 Brock Lesnar vs. Steve Austin
The clash between "The Next Big Thing" and the ace of the Attitude Era was bound to put butts in seats and sell tickets, but ultimately Steve Austin's ego got in the way of Brock Lesnar conquering him. McMahon had planned for the two to clash on an episode of RAW in 2002 with Lesnar going over, but Austin had objections to the plans. He had no problem losing to Lesnar (he knew Lesnar was bound for glory) but didn't want it to be on a meaningless RAW and knew the match could get the company Pay Per View buys. Austin suggested it take place at King of the Ring 2002 (which Lesnar Won) so that it could replicate Austin's success at King of the Ring 1996, but Vince insisted that it take place on RAW because both men had other plans for the King of the Ring PPV. Austin said he wasn't going to do the match unless it was on PPV and took his ball and went home. Austin has said on his podcast that he knew he was difficult to work with at times and regrets the way he handled that situation.
8 Daniel Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
This is the most recent entry on our list, as both men have expressed that if Shinsuke Nakamura ever came to WWE and Bryan was healthy, they would make sure to clash. Sadly, only one of those things is currently happening. Both men are known for their exceptionally hard strikes, great submission game and their ability to get over with the crowd, regardless of what management wants. "The King of Strong Style" has said for some time that Bryan was his favorite wrestler and one of the main reasons that he signed with WWE in early 2016. When asked who he wanted to come to the WWE, Bryan has said Shinsuke Nakamura and it seemed like the two were destined to clash in the squared circle. Unfortunately, Bryan's injuries forced him to retire and he has said that even if he were to leave WWE, he isn't going to wrestle regardless of what the non-WWE doctors tell him.
7 Mick Foley vs. Mr. McMahon
This match was extremely close to happening before Mick Foley turned it down. It was supposed to take place at WrestleMania X-Seven (in place of Vince vs. Shane). The story was supposed to be based on McMahon's constant neglect of Foley, even though he was without a doubt one of the top five stars of the Attitude Era. Foley was going to decide he had enough and face off with McMahon at WrestleMania in a street fight. Foley decided against it because of his health and chose instead to referee the match between Vince and Shane. If this match had taken place, given Vince's tendencies to oversell for his employees (see Hogan vs. McMahon at WrestleMania XIX), you could only imagine how brutal and hardcore the match would have been.
6 Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
Two of the biggest stars of the Ruthless Aggression era and two of the biggest egos in wrestling were scheduled to clash at WrestleMania 21. There were plans for it to be an extension of the brand warfare storyline that gave us HBK vs. Angle, but the plans eventually fell through when Brock took left the WWE to pursue his NFL dream.
While we did eventually get this match (multiple times) following his 2012 return, there is a big difference between 2004 Brock Lesnar and 2012 Brock Lesnar, and the same can be said for Triple H. While Triple H hasn't changed as much as Lesnar, you can't deny that the match would be very different if it had taken place 11 years ago.
5 The Rock vs. Shawn Michaels
No matter who would've won, it's likely that HBK and The Rock would've put on a terrific match. These two men, who were known for their outrageous personalities and large egos (mostly Michaels), somehow never clashed even though there was a time in 1997 (and early 1998) where they could have, and should have. Apparently, The Rock had always harbored animosity towards Michaels (he had reportedly disrespected Rock's grandmother during a show in Hawaii) and HBK (along with Triple H) allegedly tried to stop The Rock's push as IC champion in 1997. Sadly, by the time The Rock would be an actual challenger for HBK, HBK had to step away from the ring due to a back injury. The Rock has said that he now had no interest in working with HBK and that they were always okay with each other despite that, even though evidence says otherwise.
4 CM Punk vs. Steve Austin
As two of the biggest anti-heroes in wrestling history, CM Punk was always compared to Stone Cole and neither of them particularly liked the comparison. Both men have said that they were each other's dream opponent, even though Austin knew he was never going to compete in-ring again. On an episode of The Ross Report. Austin was asked about it and he said he had never fully considered it because he knew he wasn't going to wrestle again. Austin said he knew they would be money together and that the promos they'd cut on each other would be incredible. but that's all he was interested in doing. Both men were featured in a interview for WWE '13 before it was released where they duelled against each other on the microphone and teased a confrontation.
With both men no longer in the WWE, even if Austin was willing to wrestle again, the match likely won't happen.
3 Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan
While these two men have fought in multiple matches together (including a very sad one in TNA), these two were supposed to have a clash of the titans in 1991 for the WWE that was going to elevate both men to new heights. When Flair debuted in WWE, he almost immediately targeted Hogan, ending matches with The Undertaker due to outside interference. It was even announced that both men would face off for the championship at WrestleMania VIII, but it was eventually changed to a "double main event." Many believe that Flair was replaced with Sid Vicious because Vince wanted Hogan to conquer a big monster heel and pit Flair with Savage because he knew they would put on a very good match. However, it has also been said that Vince was very New York centric with his booking (like his father) and he didn't think Flair could draw in the Northeast like he could in the South. We did eventually get these two men facing off in WCW, but both men weren't in their physical primes.
2 Sting vs. Steve Austin
Both men were heralded as anti-heros during the Attitude Era and were top stars in their respective companies. What many fans might not know is that there was a planned feud between the two that was supposed to start at WrestleMania 19. It was said in an interview with Sting from The Attitude Era released in 2015 that he was very close to signing with WWE in 2003 and the plan was for him to come out and confront Steve Austin following his match against The Rock. They were going to buildup to an eventual clash at Backlash 2003. Sting said that if the match had actually taken place it would have led to much more in the WWE. Unfortunately, Sting got cold feet during the contract negotiations and ended up backing out of talks with McMahon. Austin's match at WrestleMania XIX would also end up being his last match since negotiations fell apart.
1 Sting vs. The Undertaker
This is easily the biggest dream match that has never happened (and most likely won't happen at this point). Sting and The Undertaker were two men who refused to betray the company they made their name in, which made them the gatekeepers of their respective companies. It seems both men were always in the Main Even,t but never the first choice for champion and usually ended up being the man that won the belt when they needed to build someone else up. Once Sting became 'Crow Sting', the comparisons between the two became even stronger and it seemed that once WWE bought out WCW, it was bound to happen. However, Sting had other plans. He knew how much fans wanted the match, but he didn't want to do business with Vince, seeing how Vince had treated other wrestlers who had came over from WCW during the invasion. Last year, Sting suffered an injury and confirmed during his Hall of Fame speech that he was no longer going to wrestle, which threw a wrench in the plans of a rumored match between Sting and Taker at WrestleMania 33.