Building a feud in pro-wrestling to highlight a series of bookings between wrestlers is still essential to this day, most of which transcend into bad blood when backed by a good story.
Whether it's a work or a shoot, if it blurs the lines of between fiction and reality, chances are the performers are guaranteed to hook the audience. A major selling point, though, is the work of a particular wrestler, and how far he or she is willing to go in making the story believable, often bringing out the best in their opponents whether it be on the mic or in matches.
It's impossible to remember all the great wrestling rivalries, since the foundation of sports entertainment was built on two athletes trying to topple one another. After numerous decades, the goal hasn't changed, and in popular promotions like WWE, TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor, storylines are still out in full force.
Some have made you laugh, cry and upset of the outcome, while the best feuds hit close to home. Others are best forgotten, since there have been examples in the past of matching up two wrestlers going nowhere fast and having lackluster build so they can work together for the better part of two months. Not every rivalry is fulfilling. On the flip side, it's normal for a feud that lasted three months or so to slip from one's mind, even if you're a diehard fan or the occasional watcher. Some have been really good, while others were satisfactory.
Here are 15 wrestling rivalries you may have forgotten, consisting of former world champions, influential tag teams and the bad-ass women of the squared circle:
15 Edge vs. Kurt Angle
To be fair, wrestling fans should remember the dissension between Edge and Kurt Angle, based on the Olympian's patented wrestling headgear-wig combination.
Edge became one of the top guys in the latter half of his career. When he was separated from his ties to both the Brood and the Ministry of Darkness, as well as Christian, Edge tested his might as a singles wrestler, running into Angle sooner rather than later.
Their segments backstage were full of fun, coining the popular "You Suck" sing-along whenever the current TNA Wrestling superstar made his presence felt. The Hair vs. Hair Match at Judgement Day 2002 could have been the best one in WWE history (the competition is pretty weak) and when it comes to growing hair, Angle hasn't looked back since. This rivalry made up some of the best SmackDown television in the show's history and the matches exceeded expectations, too.
14 Shawn Michaels vs. The British Bulldog
When you consider the amount of rivalries Michaels had in his career (the worked ones, at least), it's easy to forget the underrated feuds that elevated his career. Him and Marty Jannetty had under-appreciated battles against the likes of The Orient Express, Buddy Rose & Doug Somers and The Brain Busters, while Michaels climbed the singles ranks while duking it out against Tatanka, Jannetty and members of Camp Cornette (which included Owen Hart, Vader and The British Bulldog), while he had Diesel on his side.
However, the "Showstopper" and Bulldog's run-ins were nothing new at the time, having traded fisticuffs over the Intercontinental title a couple of years prior (Michaels was given his initial big push defeating Davey Boy Smith for his first singles title at Saturday Night's Main Event in 1992).
Bret Hart was always loosely tied their feuds, though, given Bulldog's association with his brother-in-law, but it didn't take away from the spectacular matches, including King of the Ring 1996 and the last Bulldog-HBK encounter at One Night Only in front of a Birmingham, England crowd in 1997.
13 Jake Roberts vs. Rick Rude
Two exceptional talents, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and "Ravishing" Rick Rude, are two names that never won the WWE Championship during their careers. But give them a story and they'll sell it faster than a pair of Jordan's on Black Friday.
Rude fancied many women at the time and one special lady that caught his eye was Cheryl Roberts, Jake's wife at the time. After refusing to kiss Rude in the summer of 1998 while at ringside, Cheryl slapped the sleaze and Jake came down for the rescue, only to have Rude wear an imprint of Cheryl on his patented tights.
When Rude decided to reveal a second pair of tights at SummerSlam 1988 and after defeating a jobber on an episode of Superstars (it became a ritual at that point), which had Cheryl's face planted right on his crotch, Roberts rushed down to the ring and tore the pants right off his adversary. Rude lost to Roberts at Madison Square Garden in 1998 and Cheryl got her revenge by slapping Rude twice before Damian slithered all over the hunk's body.
In all fairness, this feud was perhaps Rude's most highlighted feud in WWE, but it doesn't get enough recognition. There's no way of proving this, but chances are the story from Rude and Roberts inspired many of your favorite rivalries over the years.
12 Razor Ramon vs. Goldust
A perfect example of a quarrel becoming simultaneously a work and a shoot, if you consider Scott Hall's uncomfortableness with the angle. This is supposedly the feud responsible for Hall's WWE departure.
Battling over the coveted Intercontinental Championship, the mid-1990s feud between Razor Ramon and Goldust told a perfect story; one hyper-masculine competitor that oozed machismo versus a heel with highly suggestive themes that blurred the lines of gender. Goldust essentially fell in love with Razor, doing his best to throw the "Bad Guy" off his game with inappropriate touching and flirting when they clashed in the ring.
Goldust won his first title in WWE at Royal Rumble 1996, which was coincidentally the first time fans met his valet, Marlena. A distracted referee facilitated interference from 1-2-3 Kid, who clocked Razor and allowed Goldust to claim the victory.
Perhaps the most memorable moment of this feud was when Goldust revealed a painted heart on his chest with the word "Razor" in the middle. When cameras cut to Hall backstage, you can clearly see how uncomfortable he was.
11 Dusty Rhodes vs. Steve Corino
ECW was a bit misunderstood. Considering the majority of footage and stories from feuds depict bloodshed, barbed wire and wrestlers taking dives from three-stories high to their near deaths, you couldn't blame the promotion's naysayers.
However, ECW didn't shy away from pure wrestling (Shane Douglas vs. 2 Cold Scorpio, Eddie Guerrero vs. Dean Malenko), and neither did it exclude legends from the festivities.
Dusty Rhodes was no stranger to hardcore and doing what he did for Steve Corino's career was something the King of Ring of Honor is incredibly grateful for. Calling himself the "King of Old School," the young Corino detested hardcore wrestling and the forefather of its revolution (Rhodes), which prompted the American Dream to whip him from pillar to post in a string of Bull Rope Matches (even though Corino won one of them).
And yes, this feud involved lots of blood, too.
10 Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman
Flyin' Brian Pillman was one of WCW's first Cruiserweight stars, putting the Light Heavyweight division on the map against opponents such as Scotty Flamingo (later Raven) and Brad Armstrong.
Some of his stiffest contests were against Japanese legend Jushin Thunder Liger, having competed against the 11-time IWGP Jr. Heavyweight champ in stellar matches, including their WCW Light Heavyweight Championship meetings at the Omni on Christmas Day in 1991 and SuperBrawl II, where Pillman won the title back from Liger in arguably WCW's greatest Light Heavyweight showdown ever.
Their final duel happened at the inaugural episode of Nitro, where Liger and Pillman wrestled in the opening match, coincidentally setting the tone for WCW's commitment to pro-wrestling rather than producing an hour devoted to sports entertainment.
9 Alundra Blayze vs. Bull Nakano
Women's wrestling in WWE was hard to come by in the 1990s, solely because officials weren't invested in it as much as other continents. Alundra Blayze, however, was the most popular female wrestler in North America and she was red-hot in the mid-1990s as WWE's women's titleholder. She ran into obstacles against villains like Leilani Kai, Bertha Faye and Luna Vachon, but her most thrilling encounters were against Japan's Bull Nakano, a brutal force that inspired generations of wrestlers including WWE diva Paige.
Both wrestlers worked across the globe from Quebec to Japan, and after dozens of matches against the Saitama superstar in 1994, Nakano took the title from the WWE Hall of Famer at an All Japan Pro-Wrestling show later that year. Blayze won it back in 1995, followed by a feud with Faye which was reserved for Nakano, but the latter was caught with cocaine and was subsequently fired.
They even continued to battle in WCW during 1996, yet the matches were a far cry from the work they did in WWE, participating in a Battle of The Bikes Match, where the winner got to smash the loser's bike.
8 Chris Jericho vs. Dean Malenko
Dean Malenko was severely under-utilized in WWE, based on his legendary matches against Guerrero, Ultimo Dragon and Rey Mysterio abroad. One of his feuds from WCW in particular stood out, where he and Chris Jericho found themselves in a bitter quarrel which elevated Malenko as a face.
When Jericho labeled himself the "Man of 1,004 Holds," a mockery of Malenko's "Man of 1,000 Holds" moniker, and proceeded to make fun of Dean's father, Boris, Malenko drew the line and started to show a bit of character - a darker side, if you will.
Jericho triumphed over Malenko at Uncensored 1998 via submission, only for Malenko to come back at Slamboree 1998, disguised as Ciclope, and received a massive pop when he unmasked and defeated the Canadian for his fourth Cruiserweight title in a battle royal. The two locked horns frequently in 1998 and this could be the time where Jericho started to stick out on the mic, becoming one of WCW's best talkers at the time. They probably were too disinterested to even care, considered the New World Order reigned supreme.
7 Nation of Domination vs. Disciples of Apocalypse vs. Los Boricuas
Gang warfare was pretty hot in WWE right before the Attitude Era started, with factions like the Hart Foundation and the Nation of Domination, drawing the blueprint for groups to come.
A squabble in the Nation of Domination forced three of its most powerful members - Faarooq, Crush and Savio Vega - to form legions of their own, which birthed two new factions. Faarooq kept his Nation alive, while Crush assembled a crew of biker bandits known as the Disciples of Apocalypse. Savio, on the other hand, turned to his friends in Los Boricuas, but they looked more suited for a sitcom rather than a grudge match.
The leaders eventually met in a Triple Threat Match at In Your House: Ground Zero, where Savio scored the upset over his former compadres. The clan members soon became an afterthought following the match-up.
6 Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake
The legend of Hulkamania was built by beating popular heels in Hulk Hogan's early days, stemming from his departure from the AWA up to his headlining showcases at WrestleMania. After toppling greats like The Iron Sheik and Macho Man Randy Savage, the Hulkster turned his sights towards the Canadian beast, Earthquake, who was one of the best villains in the early-1990s.
Forced into bad gimmicks during the latter half of his career (Shark, Golga), Earthquake was the perfect candidate to dethrone Hogan and when you factor in the American's drawing power, this rivalry was destined to do well. It all came crashing down during an episode of the Brother Love Show, where Earthquake squashed Hogan and took him out of action for a while by breaking his ribs (kayfabe, of course). This made Hogan seem like the underdog for the first time in his WWE career and while their match at SummerSlam 1990 wasn't an all time classic, it put Hogan over (obviously) and protected Earthquake by having him lose via count-out.
5 Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis
Two popular Mexican Luchadores stars, Mysterio and Psicosis, had a string of exciting encounters in promotions all over the world.
Psicosis, trained by Mysterio's father and uncle, fought the current AAA star hundreds of times during his career, with most of their encounters taking place in Mexico. Their most revered matches, however, took place under the ECW banner, where both lucha libre standouts had some of the most exhilarating matches that Paul Heyman ever promoted, including their renown Two out of Three Falls encounter.
The two would lock horns in WCW soon after (where he was known as Psychosis), nearly stealing the show at Bash at the Beach 1996, had it not been for Hogan's heel turn at a relatively lacklustre pay-per-view. This rivalry was special because not only did both wrestlers hone their crafts in their native Mexico - which obviously has a different style than North America - they were able to adapt to multiple forms of wrestling.
4 Randy Savage vs. Diamond Dallas Page
During a time where the nWo dominated the WCW landscape, one of the true WCW homegrown talents, Diamond Dallas Page, was the recipient of attacks from an embittered Macho Man, who targeted DDP's wife, Kimberly Page, at Uncensored 1997.
Both wrestlers were no strangers to ferocity, which helped sell their feud to the fans. They started to hack at each other in early-1997, with their first big match taking place at Spring Stampede, where Page walked away with the victory. Savage would exact revenge at both the Great American Bash and Bash at the Beach, pummelling Page until the latter found victory in a tag team match at Fall Brawl, culminating at Halloween Havoc, where Page lost again due to interference from the fake Sting.
The work done by these two legends is a prime example of how animosity plays a huge role into selling a feud and they had intense matches to back it up, too.
3 CM Punk vs. Raven
ROH had an abundance of memorable feuds over the years (notably ones involving CM Punk), but this one turned the tide and elevated the promotion to new heights.
When Raven was released from WWE in the mid-2000s, he found work with rival promotions, including ROH. This feud saw the aging veteran, who wasn't exactly conscious of his health over the years, against a straight-edge up and comer in both ROH and MLW.
Reminiscent of Punk's feud against Jeff Hardy and Chris Jericho, the storyline wasn't all that different, considering Raven represented Punk's alcoholic father. The hatred between the two escalated to a boiling point, after Punk formed the Second City Saints, which saw Colt Cabana turn on the hardcore legend after a tag team match concluded. Two huge matches followed, including a Dog Collar Match and post-match crucifixion (Death Before Dishonor 2003) and a Clockwork Orange House of Fun Steel Cage Match (Beating The Odds), with each wrestler notching a win under his belt. They would finish off the feud at Conclusion 2003, with Punk defeating Raven in a blow-off Cage Match.
2 The Rock vs. Chris Benoit
Chris Benoit never earned a spot in the main event picture during his time in WCW, even though he deserved one. When he jumped ship to WWE alongside Malenko, Guerrero and Saturn, he was arguably the one that stuck out the most, due to his experience wrestling all over the world.
After taking on great wrestlers like Jericho and Angle, Benoit was lingering around the main event scene, deciding to attack the promotion's hottest attraction, The Rock, aligning with Shane McMahon.
After an encounter on an episode of Raw in July 2000, the two locked horns at Fully Loaded later that month, which showed The Rock's capabilities when matched up against an opponent who would bring out the best in him. Benoit and The Rock crossed paths in tag matches along the way and eventually capped off a short but entertaining feud after a series of matches on Raw, where Rocky earned the bragging rights.
1 Ricky Steamboat vs. Steve Austin
The United States title was quite the prestigious piece dating back to the NWA's Mid-Atlantic years. Some of the best matches in wrestling history took place with the title on the line and one particular feud involving two standouts added a shining light to WCW's mid-card in the early-1990s.
Ricky Steamboat, who had won WWE's Intercontinental strap and took part in five-star matches against Ric Flair years prior, challenged young gun Stunning Steve Austin for a shot at the U.S. title, after the two met in a series of matches for the Television strap in 1992 and at house shows in 1993. The Dragon lost their first encounter at Bash at the Beach 1994, but took the belt off Austin a thrilling encounter at Clash of the Champions XXVIII, before a severe injury forced him to forfeit the title and cost him his job.
Had Steamboat been healthy, he would have surely resumed his rivalry against Austin, seeing that Steamboat revisited his feud against Flair upon his WCW return. It may not have lasted long, yet the Steamboat-Austin affairs are definitely worth the watch.
And if you're looking for more early Austin rivalries to revisit, try his feuds against Savio, Pillman, Dustin Rhodes and Barry Windham.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!